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3 Tools for Reducing Change Resistance

3 Tools for Reducing Change Resistance

Change resistance and other roadblocks can delay a change initiative– or worse yet, cause it to fail. This is why companies about to embark on a business transformation or ERP project should use change management assessments to anticipate and mitigate roadblocks.

These assessments can help you understand the impact of change, your employees’ readiness for change and what change management activities to include in your project plan. We use change management assessments to help companies reduce risk and ensure an on-time, on-budget project with a high ROI.

2019 ERP Report

This year's report delves deep into the data to analyze what ERP industry trends mean for organizations now and in the future.

We have found that the ability to identify employee resistance early in the project leads to faster ERP benefits realization. Essentially, the more time employees spend using new ERP software instead of resisting it, the more the software will benefit your bottom line.

While there are many different change management assessments, three of the most common assessments we use are listed below.

3 Common Change Management Assessments

1. Change Impact Assessment

A change impact assessment gives insight into the potential effects of a proposed change. Knowing what people and processes will be affected by change enables your team to develop a change management plan.

More specifically, a change impact assessment evaluates the impact of a change from three perspectives:

  • Consequences of making the change
  • Mandatory resource modifications
  • Effort and tasks to complete the change

The main purpose of a change impact assessment is to minimize the negative impacts of change. It accomplishes this by allowing the project team to anticipate issues, such as resource constraints, before they occur.

There are two major benefits of using a change impact assessment:

Minimizing Ripple Effects

A change impact assessment is especially beneficial for projects where quality and safety are paramount. In these projects, a small change can cause huge issues down the line.

We recommend continuously monitoring the impacts of change during the project. This will help you address issues while they’re still small.

Controlling Project Scope

On a complex project that has hundreds or thousands of intertwined processes, a change impact assessment can prevent the project scope from expanding.

How does scope expansion occur? Imagine if a developer on your team promises a change to an end-user, fails to perform a change impact assessment and ends up spending months on a single change order.

2. Organizational Readiness Assessment

The willingness of employees to support change determines on how quickly you can implement change. That’s why we use readiness assessments at our client engagements – the client needs to know if their employees will be supportive of organizational changes.

Some of our clients find that their culture is either resistant to change, or it doesn’t align with the specific changes being proposed. This knowledge helps clients develop a plan to adjust their culture and prepare employees.

There are two main reasons companies use readiness assessments:

To Identify Root Causes

Oftentimes, change resistance does not stem from ill intent, but rather poor internal communication, distrust of senior leaders or extreme organizational silos. Once you understand these aspects of your culture, you can begin overcoming resistance.

To Gain Employee Buy-in

Employee buy-in is important both during and after a change initiative.

After a project, for example, employee buy-in can mean increased ERP system usage and higher benefits realization.

During a project, employee buy-in can mean increased insight into employee needs and the ability to design business processes that benefit employees. As you can imagine, prying knowledge out of an employee worried about job security is quite difficult.

3. Stakeholder Analysis

Typically, stakeholder analysis refers to the techniques or tools used to identify and understand the needs of major interests outside the immediate project environment.

The goal of this assessment is to understand what individual stakeholders care about and what relationships exist between stakeholders. This allows the project team to avoid stepping on toes and implement changes that benefit stakeholders.

Here are two reasons to conduct a stakeholder analysis:

Stakeholders are a Key Source of Information

Stakeholders’ ideas and suggestions can help guide team members in their process improvement efforts.

Stakeholders can be Change Champions

Stakeholders who visibly support change will naturally elicit buy-in from other employees.

You Will Encounter Roadblocks

We have a yet to see an ERP implementation that hasn’t encountered organizational roadblocks. While the most noticeable roadblock is change resistance, there are usually several root causes.

Change management assessments not only identify sources of resistance but help you develop a more effective change management plan – and overall project plan.

Panorama’s ERP consultants can help you conduct change management assessments and use the resulting insights to adjust your company culture and gain employee buy-in.

Most employees have a fear of the unknown and a fear of job loss when presented with the prospect of organizational changes. Let us help you alleviate employees’ fears and fast-track your ERP system usage.

5 Change Management Communication Tips

5 Change Management Communication Tips

How do you define business transformation success? Does it mean your project was on-time and on-budget, or does it mean more than that?

Just because you adhered to a budget and timeline doesn’t mean your project succeeded. If everyone was working toward the same goal during the project and continues to do so, this is more characteristic of a successful project. In other words, organizational alignment both enables and signifies success.

2019 ERP Report

This year's report delves deep into the data to analyze what ERP industry trends mean for organizations now and in the future.

Organizational alignment is a topic we often mention in our blogs. Today, we’ll discuss one key strategy for achieving this alignment: change management communication.

How to Communicate With Employees to Ensure Business Transformation Success

1. Build a Project Team

When it comes to large-scale projects that involve many stakeholders, it’s essential to form a project team. Part of this project team should include an organizational change management team responsible for determining employees’ change readiness and developing a change management plan.

We recommend designating change agents as key influencers within the change management team responsible for executing many of the communication activities of the change management plan.

2. Communicate Early​

It’s far easier to obtain employee buy-in when they understand that the project is an opportunity to improve the company and their individual jobs. As such, your change management team and executives should communicate the nature of change long before it happens.

For example, how significant is the change, and how will employees be impacted? Why is the change necessary, and what improvements stand to be gained?

3. Listen to Employees’ Concerns

We have found that both top-down and bottom-up communication help ensure organizational alignment prior to an ERP implementation or business transformation.

Bottom-up communication is especially important because end-users may have insights that senior leaders don’t have. End-users have this insight as they are the ones performing the business processes.

In addition to insights, end-users will also have concerns. These should not be taken lightly, as employees respond much more positively to change when they know their concerns are seriously considered.

Every client we’ve worked with has had several employees who initially resisted change but became supportive of the project once they had the opportunity to communicate their concerns. This communication often took place one-on-one, but sometimes was facilitated through “town hall” meetings.

4. Manage Issue Escalation During the Project

Once the project is underway, bottom-up communication should not stop. In fact, projects without a communication hierarchy can get derailed by an inconsequential problem if end-users don’t understand how to communicate issues and to whom.

For example, let’s say that during a software upgrade for a system at an asset management firm, a calculation error is discovered in a test environment. End-users escalate the issue to the Chief Risk Officer (CRO). However, the CRO is not tech savvy, so he misinterprets the bug as something that affects live operations. He then shuts down trading operations to investigate the issue. This decision could potentially cost a firm millions of dollars.

5. Share Key Information During the Project​

Just as bottom-up communication should continue after the project commences, so should top-down communication.

Relevant information to communicate might include details about upcoming milestones or findings from previous milestones. For example, what business benefits did the company realize from the first phase of the project?

Continuous communication about project goals also is essential for maintaining employee engagement. As project challenges arise, buy-in naturally fluctuates, so it’s important to repeat key messaging to convey why the gain is worth the temporary pain.

How do Employees Perceive Change?

Effective communication requires an understanding of employee perceptions. In general, employees perceive change as something negative.

If your change management approach is to succeed, they must put themselves in the shoes of a typical end-user. From this perspective, change may seem like a cost-cutting measure aimed at eliminating staff. Additionally, new responsibilities may seem intimidating and cause you to feel inadequate.

Considering these fears, it’s important to develop a comprehensive change management plan with a strong focus on employee communication. We have found that poor communication only serves to increase employees’ fears.

Panorama’s ERP consultants understand that employee buy-in is essential to business transformation success. We can help your company align employees around common goals by building a communication-savvy change management team.

8 Tips for End User Training

8 Tips for End User Training

Most people dislike change. This makes implementing organizational changes difficult.

If your company is about to undergo significant organizational changes, then preparing employees is the best way to mitigate change resistance. In fact, a comprehensive end user training strategy is an essential component of an effective organizational change management plan.

Unfortunately, less than half of companies in our 2019 ERP Report included customized training as one of their project activities.

2019 ERP Report

This year's report delves deep into the data to analyze what ERP industry trends mean for organizations now and in the future.

So, how do you develop a training strategy to prepare team members for an ERP implementation or business transformation? We’ve compiled eight tips that can help you:

1. Ensure Executives are on Board.

Executives should understand the importance of change management and understand what activities are necessary for change management success. It’s especially important to set realistic expectations around employee training in terms of budget, timeline and resources.

2. Assume You Have Underinvested in Training.

We have yet to be involved in a project where the company spent too much time on training. Rather than looking for ways to save money by cutting change management activities, you should look for ways to help employees feel comfortable with change. This will actually decrease your overall costs and increase your ROI in the long-term.

3. Start With Business Processes.

Before designing a training program, we recommend documenting business process changes. Only then can you determine the impact of change on employees and the knowledge gaps that need to be filled.

We use change impact assessments to help our clients connect the dots for their employees in terms of the way things work now and how they will work in the future.

4. Begin Training Early.

There is a common assumption among project managers that employee training should be conducted a few weeks before changes are rolled out. Instead, employees should receive multiple rounds of training well before they are expected to adopt new processes and/or technology.

While it is tempting to train employees in one session, this is never a productive practice. Regular training sessions ensure employees retain information and learn to use new software functionality as it is rolled out over time.

5. Customize Employee Training.

Everyone learns differently, and a one-size-fits all approach leads to broad skillsets with holes in understanding. The ideal solution is to offer individualized training. This helps you address individual roles and skill levels.

One tool you can use is a change impact assessment. This helps you identify how change will affect each employee and guides you in developing individuated training plans.

6. Use Employees as Trainers.

As business owners, you may not always know the details of every employee’s job. This is why it’s a good idea for a managers and subject matter experts to take on the role of trainer.

This peer-to-peer learning technique is especially effective in large organizations. Employees can each be assigned a coach who understands their role and provides personalized feedback.

At Panorama, we design train-the-trainer programs for many of our clients implementing new ERP software. This helps them efficiently train employees on new business processes and technology.

7. Use Mobile Technology.

Much of today’s workforce works remotely. Training these employees can present a challenge.

However, incorporating mobile technology in your training strategy ensures remote employees receive effective training.

Popular apps, like Slack, can improve training through gamification. In other words, you can test employees’ knowledge via quizzes and games. This leads to higher engagement and memory retention.

Microlearning is another mobile-friendly technique that breaks training content into a smaller, more manageable pieces. This often includes short videos that employees can watch at their own pace.

Geo-fencing is one mobile technology you can use for microlearning. It is a location-based service where mobile phones use GPS, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a programmed action when an individual enters or exits a virtual geographical boundary.

While traditionally used by companies for marketing purposes, some companies are using geo-fencing for microlearning. For example, field employees who work with compliance-related issues can be sent push notifications reminding them to conduct specific checks.

8. Combine In-person and Online Training.

While many employees find that in-person training is the best way to learn, it can be difficult to hold employees’ attention without incorporating online training materials.

Using multiple teaching methods, such as pre-recorded videos and demonstrations, can keep employees engaged during in-person training sessions.

When employees inevitably forget concepts over time, online resources, again, become useful. Many ERP vendors have user communities that provide ongoing support to end users.

Online training is especially effective for Millennial employees. Traditional classroom-based training alone won’t cut it with this group.


Effective Training Programs

Developing an effective training strategy will ensure the success of your ERP project or change initiative. In fact, we have found that employee adoption is one of the main drivers of benefits realization.

This is why Panorama’s ERP consultants design comprehensive change management plans for companies and prioritize training early in the project. If you are planning for major changes at your company, let Panorama help you develop a strategy for success.

10 Communication Tools for Change Agents

10 Communication Tools for Change Agents

Although both organizational change management and innovative communication tools have been around for some time, many organizations don’t combine them. As a change agent, you can pick and choose which tools work best for you, and you can adjust them to suit the needs of your ERP implementation

First, let’s lay down some ground rules for what makes an effective communication tool for change management:

  1. The tool must help the people involved understand the change.
  2. The tool must minimize disruption without dismissing concerns.
  3. The tool must instill accountability and delivery clarity.
  4. The tool should be able to boost employee morale and drive involvement.
  5. The tool should captivate your audience and promote buy-in.

Ultimately, communications tools should help tackle common challenges of implementing new ERP software, such as resistance to change. Following are ten traditional and modern tools you can add to your change toolkit:

Traditional Communication Tools

Traditional communication formats cultivate trust with most employees as something is comforting about interacting on a non-digital level.

In fact, if you’re in the early stages of business transformation, traditional communication tools might be most effective tools you have.

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1. Bulletin Board

Put up a bulletin board where employees can post questions. Make it clear that questions will receive answers, and statements will be read and recorded.

Some companies issue different colored index cards or pins to identify which department a question comes from. This helps you provide more relevant answers.

2. Town Hall Meetings

Failing to communicate the project vision is one of the common struggles in an ERP project or business transformation. Hosting town hall meetings allows you to effectively communicate with employees at all levels of the organization.

During these meetings, clearly explain the project vision in a compelling manner. Several times throughout the meeting, open the floor to questions. If you make people wait until the end, you’ll lose them.

If employees express frustration during the meeting, offer to meet with these individuals face-to-face. This may come as a surprise to some employees – according to Forbes, less than a third of employees believe that there will be any changes based on their input.

When our clients conduct town hall meetings, they typically find that these meetings increase alignment among executives, the ERP project team and the change management team.

3. Playbooks

Playbooks help coaches guide their teams to victory, and they can help you too. Essentially, you’re telling your employees what changes are coming and how they can prepare.

The playbook should be high-level and easy to skim. It should include:

  • The project’s one-sentence goal
  • The vision statement
  • A list of the people and systems directly impacted
  • A list of the people and systems indirectly impacted
  • A list of new technology being implemented

4. One-on-one Meetings

When our consultants work with change agents, we help them develop elevator pitches appropriate for each stakeholder group. The elevator pitch can be used in one-on-one meetings to explain why the change is happening and what specifically is changing.

These meetings should occur at key milestones throughout the project. They should be two-way conversations that encourage employees to share feedback.

In our experience, one-on-one meetings can be more emotional than team meetings, so we typically help change agents develop key messaging to address various emotional responses.

Mobile Communication Tools

While you may have security concerns about mobile apps for the workplace, these apps are specifically designed with security in mind. Here a few you should consider if you want to improve your change communication:

5. Slack

Slack is well-known for its desktop software that works as a team communication hub. In Slack, you can create different boards for anything and everything.

You can tag people in conversations, nudge them and mark certain statements with a tag making them easy to find later. The nudge and tagging features can make a big difference when it comes to addressing key issues with employees.

6. Troop

Troop allows individual communication and can store the entire history of a conversation.

This app also allows you to set administrators or moderators for group chats, so you can allow teams to discuss the project but have their manager moderate the discussion.

Software Communication Tools

Innovative software usually doesn’t have too much pushback when you try to integrate it into your change program. Most of these tools are reasonably priced and require no training.

7. Calendly

It’s more of a service than a software solution, and the only person that has to do anything is you. Create an account, and then use your unique code to direct people to your calendar. If someone wants to schedule a meeting with you, they must select from one of your open time slots.

8. Gensuite

A software solution specifically for change management teams, Gensuite focuses on the impact of change. Teams can use Gensuite to plan and manage risk while working towards legal compliance.

The system is flexible and allows stakeholders to engage in different steps of the change plan. You can customize controls, restrict certain users and automate communication.

9. Redbooth

Redbooth uses a task system to restrict and direct communication. The goal with Redbooth is to restrict communication to that which is relevant to the task or project. Employees must sort, organize and tag moveable tasks to keep communication concise and avoid repetitive questions.

10. Blogin

One of the biggest struggles that change agents face is helping employees work through deep-set feelings of uncertainty. A lot of this uncertainty comes from not having access to information.

Blogin acts as an internal company blog where you can archive company knowledge. It allows staff and team members to share information, search through the information, make suggestions for additions and ask questions.

Blogin keeps information flowing without disrupting the project. It’s a great place to put meeting minutes, your change management playbook and more.

Which Tools Will Work Best for You?

Change agents know that each project requires a different approach, which is why it’s critical to have more than just a few tools on hand.

Panorama’s ERP consultants can help you build a change activation toolkit that incorporates some of the tools mentioned here and provides guidelines for developing messaging. We’ll help you proactively lead and inspire your employees to embrace change.

5 Tips to Avoid Change Management Failure

5 Tips to Avoid Change Management Failure

Many organizations launch organizational change management programs that fail to fully transition employees into the desired future state. These organizations often focus on developing a communication plan while forgoing many other change management activities.

According to Panorama’s 2019 ERP Report, a communication plan is the most common change management activity respondents used for their ERP projects. While a communication plan is important, it’s not enough for most ERP implementations and business transformations.

2019 ERP Report

This year's report delves deep into the data to analyze what ERP industry trends mean for organizations now and in the future.

Signs of Change Management Failure

Change management failure takes many forms, but it is most apparent at the completion of an ERP project. At this point, you’re expecting to begin realizing business benefits, but instead you’re facing low employee morale, low user adoption and low productivity.

It’s important to identify the signs of change management failure sooner rather than later. Signs might include:

  • The project manager does not understand the needs of the end-user.
  • The change impacts people who aren’t aware of or involved in the project.
  • Management or executives are resisting change.

Fortunately, there are many change management activities you can employ to mitigate these challenges. Following are five change management tips that incorporate some of the most overlooked change management activities.

5 Change Management Tips

1. Be Proactive and Start Early

Change management often fails when the project manager does not understand the needs of the end-user.

Before selecting ERP software, you should assemble a team to assess employees’ needs. We recommend conducting focus groups. These are useful for several reasons:


  • During focus groups you can document employees’ pain points with the current system. Exposing these pain points can help you to convince executives to invest in new technology.
  • Focus groups are effective in gaining employee buy-in. When communicating the reasons for change, you can use the insights from the focus groups to align your message with employees’ needs.
  • Focus groups help you select a system that addresses employees’ pain points. This is important because when employees’ needs are fulfilled by a technology solution, they are likely to respond more positively to your change management efforts.

2. Start at the Top

The most effective change management strategies start at the top. This is because people model the behavior they see. If executives appear fearful of change, employees will fear it as well. Inconsistency erodes employees’ trust in leadership and increases change resistance.

For example, one of our ERP selection and implementation clients achieved strong executive buy-in, which they used to gain employee buy-in. The communication from management was consistently supportive of change and focused on a clear, unified message that employees easily understood.

3. Provide a Big Picture View

You have probably heard a manager ask why they need to move to a new system when the existing system is fine. Additionally, executives may regularly remind you that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

A big picture view is the best way to address executive and management concerns as they are typically big-picture thinkers.

What Executives Want to Know

  • How the project will cut costs or mitigate risk.
  • How the project will impact multiple departments.
  • How the project will address the pain points of key stakeholders.
  • How the goals of the project align with business objectives.

Executives like specifics, so be sure to provide details. What specific business benefits will the ERP implementation bring? Will it improve communication and integration between departments? Will it improve the company’s ability to serve customers? Quantify these benefits as accurately as you can.

For example, one of our process manufacturing clients wanted to improve the efficiency of their sales function. They demonstrated to executives how the new system would provide better insights into their customer service function, allowing them to automate many aspects of it. They showed how this would free up time for employees to focus more on outbound calls. This appeals to the executive’s desire for efficiency and increased revenue.

Our ERP consulting services include a benefits realization plan, which allows clients to track the realization of the benefits they’re using the promote the project. This provides further validation to employees that the benefits being promoted are on track to be achieved.

4. Customize Your Training

As ERP systems and CRM systems prove their worth across industries, many companies are happy to implement new technology without a thought. They are confident that their “tech-savvy” staff will quickly and painlessly learn the new system.

However, even truly tech-savvy employees don’t innately know how a new system operates. When you consider your less tech-savvy employees, a technological change seems hopeless.

The good news is that you have many resources available to educate your staff. In addition to the ERP vendor’s training materials, you can design customized training based on the new business processes in each department.

For example, it’s important to train your accounting department on their unique processes within the ERP system. Additionally, you should train your customer service reps on their functions and help them understand upstream and downstream processes.

What Does Change Management Success Look Like?

Whether you’re beginning an ERP implementation or a business transformation, change management requires more than communication. It requires a full change management plan that ensures executive support, employee buy-in, and most importantly, benefits realization. This is what change management success looks like.

Panorama’s ERP consultants can ensure your change management initiative is successful. We’ll help you plan for and execute all of the activities that companies tend to overlook.

How to Use a Change Management Plan to Increase Your ERP ROI

How to Use a Change Management Plan to Increase Your ERP ROI

Ensuring a high ROI on your ERP implementation is no easy task. Many organizations have tried to accelerate their projects by implementing out-of-the-box ERP software, minimizing process changes and cutting change management from their budgets. While this may save you money in the short-term, it does nothing to position your organization for long-term growth.

So how do you maximize ERP ROI without reducing your project budget to the bare necessities? One answer is organizational change management. In other words, your employees will determine your ROI.

The Human Factors That Influence ROI

  • Speed of Adoption​ – How quickly are employees adopting new technology, business processes and job roles?​
  • Ultimate Utilization​ – How many employees are using the ERP system and demonstrating buy-in?
  • Proficiency​ – How well are employees performing their jobs with the new ERP system?​

If one of these factors is negatively impacting your ERP project, you may want to conduct an ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) Assessment. Evaluating how well you’re meeting employees’ needs will help you develop a change management plan, which is a key pre-implementation activity.

What Employees Need During a Change Initiative

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to make the change happen
  • Knowledge about how to change
  • Ability to implement new skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to retain the change once it has been made

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Desire is one of the key components of ADKAR that organizations overlook. They see change as a mandate that employees will follow whether or not they desire it. While this may be the case with some employees, software usage isn’t the ultimate goal. Employees must be proficient with new software for your organization to realize business benefits, but they are unlikely to become proficient without the desire to change.

Reluctant software users are almost as bad as employees who refuse adoption altogether. It’s important to begin change management activities before ERP selection, so you can proactively build desire among employees and give them more time to process the changes. While SAP and Oracle may be infinitely better than your old ERP system, employees may still be reluctant to adopt a new system if you don’t give them reasons to desire change.

Another aspect of ADKAR that many organizations forget to address is employees’ need for reinforcement. When employees revert to old processes, this may indicate the need for reinforcement. The best way to reinforce change is through recurrent training and frequent communication. Our experience as a software implementation expert witness has revealed that a lack of communication is a leading cause of ERP implementation failure.

It’s helpful to think of ADKAR as sequential. You cannot meet every need simultaneously, and each employee will go through the process at a different pace. Managers should be the first to complete the ADKAR process followed by the employees they supervise.

How to Be a Change Leader

  1. Prepare yourself for change​ – What changes will impact your team and how? Why are these changes being made? Answering these questions is the first step to becoming a change leader.
  2. Adapt to the change that is happening to you​ – Just because you’re a manager doesn’t mean you like all the proposed changes. You should share your concerns​ but ultimately commit to supporting change.
  3. Develop competencies to manage change​ – A manager should have the competencies to take on the roles of a communicator, liaison, advocate, resistance manager and coach.

If your organization is experiencing low productivity, high turnover and low morale as a result of organizational changes, the role of coach will be essential to your digital strategy. Managers who assume this role significantly impact how employees perceive change. By listening to employees’ concerns and using ADKAR, these managers are able to identify barriers to change and develop plans to address them. Executives can also play the role of coach. In fact, they can be some of the most effective coaches because of their level of influence.

6 Tips for Coaching Employees

  • Remove barriers – Barriers to change may relate to family, personal issues, physical limitations or money. Coaches should fully understand the individual situation of each employee to determine how to remove barriers.
  • Build desire by providing choices – Employees need to know in simple and clear terms what their choices are and what consequences they face for making a particular choice. This puts a level of control back into the hands of employees.
  • Create hope – Employees are more open to change when you frame it as an opportunity for a better future. Coaches can create desire for change among employees by expressing their own excitement and enthusiasm. While this tactic is effective, it can be misused if coaches create false hope and don’t believe in the change themselves.
  • Convert the strongest dissenters – By focusing their energy on the most vocal dissenters, coaches can reduce the spread of negativity. Another reason that converting vocal dissenters is worthwhile is because they may be some of the most vocal advocates when converted.
  • Highlight the tangible benefits – Case studies and testimonials can tangibly demonstrate the benefits of change. Conducting pilot programs and sharing the successful outcomes is also useful for generating buy-in.
  • Use money or power – This tactic works well with mid-level and senior managers that are critical about the success of the ERP project. Offering higher pay in exchange for project support can be worth the investment.

Aiming for a Higher ERP ROI

While many organizations aim for short-term cost savings, some organizations understand the importance of long-term ROI. They expect more from their ERP software because they know its true value lies at the intersection of people, processes and technology. They know that technology alone cannot deliver long-term ROI.

However, this is easier said than done. If you know the true value of ERP software but need a little guidance to achieve it, hiring an ERP consultant, like Panorama, is great investment.

5 Ways to Prepare for Transformational Change

5 Ways to Prepare for Transformational Change

If you’re considering digital transformation, you probably know it entails significant operational changes. Whether you’re changing your entire business model or certain business processes, these transformational changes are challenging for organizations and their employees.

Many executives and project teams struggle to integrate organizational change management into their projects. Here are five ways you can prepare your organization for change:

5 Ways to Prepare for Change

1. Ensure executive alignment

Most organizations have at least one executive who is not on board with the goals of the project or is working against the project. Your executive team needs to be aligned – the success of all other change management activities depends on it. Executive involvement precedes executive buy-in. Asking executives questions, such as what they would like to achieve with new technology, can help establish buy-in.

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2. Facilitate organizational readiness assessments

How can you implement transformational change without understanding your employees and your culture? Conducting an online survey and series of focus groups can give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your organizational culture. This insight can identify the root causes of change resistance and help you determine strategies for implementing change.

3. Conduct organizational impact assessments

You can simply inform employees that their jobs will change, or you can explain exactly how they will change. An organizational impact assessment helps you understand the degree of change and nature of change so you can effectively communicate this to employees. Communication should be targeted, personalized and continuous.

4. Customize your training materials to fit your business processes

While most ERP vendors have training materials for their products, the training isn’t customized. When you train employees without considering the nuances unique to your organization and industry, employees may experience confusion, and training won’t be nearly as effective. Training materials should be tailored to your business processes. A training program should cover more than just how to use the ERP system. Employees also need to know what processes and decisions need to happen outside the system.

5. Develop a comprehensive organizational change management plan

Merely focusing on end-user training and basic employee communications will not lead to long-term transformational change. An independent consultant can help you define the change management activities that will enable digital transformation.

How to Communicate With Employees

1. Look for signs of resistance

While employees may appear to embrace change, subtle forms of resistance may still exist. Be on the lookout for signs such as reduced productivity, absenteeism and conflict. When developing a communication plan, you should pay attention to change resistant employees.

2. Develop a communication plan

A clear understanding of stakeholder needs allows you to develop a targeted communication plan outlining key messages for each stakeholder group. The plan should also specify when and by whom information should be communicated.

3. Provide leadership

Executives should provide clear, consistent and repeated communication of project goals, and they should explain how these goals align with the organizational vision. Without this type of communication, employees won’t understand how new technology will help the organization grow, better serve customers and become more efficient. Instead they’ll assume the organization is using technology as a cost-cutting measure and a strategy for eliminating staff.

4. Facilitate two-way communication

When will training occur? When will changes roll out? How can I express my concerns? These are common questions employees have during ERP projects. Executives and the project team should hold meetings throughout the project so employees can ask questions and express concerns.

5. Establish a project brand

A brand is a value proposition that encourages loyalty. A brand for a digital transformation project should reinforce the importance of the project. A branding contest is a fun way to engage employees and help them feel a sense of ownership. When communicating with employees, don’t underestimate the power of branding.

6. Create a project portal website

This serves as a central location for employees to find timely project information. Available materials should include implementation plans, upcoming events and training schedules. Smaller organizations sometimes use a bulletin board to disseminate information in lieu of a website. A central location for information encourages collaboration and participation from all stakeholders.

7. Utilize change agents

These are people inside the organization responsible for communicating key messages to end-users. As trusted advisors and super-users of the new technology, they are likely to hear different thoughts, concerns and reactions than executives hear.

Is Organizational Change Management Really Necessary?

Many executives believe organizational change management is a luxury rather than a necessity – even if they’re undergoing a digital transformation that’s radically changing their operational model. Time and resource constraints prompt executives to cut organizational change management from their project budgets in an attempt to complete the project as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, executives that forgo change management typically find their projects require more time and money in the long run as they scramble to increase system usage after the technology is already implemented.

Executives that do believe in organizational change management often struggle to develop an actionable plan. If this describes you, Panorama’s ERP consultants can help your company prepare for transformational change.

The Importance of Change Management During Digital Transformation

The Importance of Change Management During Digital Transformation

You may have noticed the ERP consulting industry moving away from the term “ERP implementation” in favor of “digital transformation.” This isn’t surprising as ERP implementations have a bad reputation – they often go over budget and over schedule and fail to realize significant business benefits. While digital transformation does involve ERP software or other technology, “ERP implementation” insufficiently describes initiatives involving large-scale change to people and processes.

Digital transformation can create competitive advantage and position your organization for future growth – but not without a detailed change management strategy and a strong change management methodology.

What is Large-scale Change?

If your initiative is truly a digital transformation, that means you’re changing more than your technology – you’re undergoing large-scale change and fundamentally altering structures, processes and employees’ day-to-day jobs. If new technology is merely enhancing one of these elements, then you’re likely experiencing small-scale change. You’ll still need a change management methodology, but it will account for a smaller percentage of your project budget.

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Whenever an organization implements new technology, it should consider the possibility of large-scale change. New technology is an opportunity to reengineer business processes and improve efficiency. This proves more difficult after a technology solution is already in place. Maybe you want to stick to business as usual for now, but what about five years down the road when you want to pursue digital transformation? Technology configured for your old business processes may not support new processes, at least without extensive customization.

That’s not to say you can’t pursue a change management initiative without implementing new technology. Many organizations want to transform their culture or introduce incremental process improvements without touching technology. However, a full-scale business process reengineering initiative typically necessitates at least an evaluation of your current technology.

How to Implement Large-scale Change

Three words: Organizational change management. That’s the only way to successfully change your people, processes and technology. You may have heard it called people enablementworkforce transition or business process implementation, but the most accurate term is organizational change management, as it encompasses everything from communications to training.

Here’s a high-level overview of an effective change management methodology:

1.Prepare for Change

You should perform a risk analysis and assess your organizational readiness. This involves identifying the characteristics of change as well as organizational attributes, such as culture and leadership style. These assessments set the stage for developing a change management strategy roadmap, which includes a proposed change management team as well as a sponsorship model.

Executive sponsorship is key for project success. Executive sponsors should secure resources for the project team, encourage manager buy-in and educate employees about upcoming changes.

2. Manage Change

Following your change management roadmap, you can develop a communications plan, resistance management plan and training plan. A communications plan involves a stakeholder assessment and an outline of key messages. When developing a training plan, you should conduct a needs assessment and gap analysis, then document your business requirements.

Employees and executives have different perspectives on change. While the executive might see process efficiency and cost savings, the employee sees new required skills, changes to their work environment and a possible loss of status. That’s why you need a change management methodology that addresses communication, resistance management and training.

3. Reinforce Change

You should gather feedback from employees to assess the results of change management activities. Identifying root causes and pockets of resistance will help you implement corrective action. If some of your changes are successful, you should celebrate these to ensure continued success.

Reducing Resistance to Change

Executives hear the word “change” and think of cost savings and efficiency gains. Employees hear the word “change” and think of additional responsibility and possible job loss. Unsurprisingly, employees almost always resist organizational change.

Employees may refuse to learn new processes, or they may speak negatively about the project amongst coworkers. This can slow down your digital transformation, and you might experience quality problems and reduced productivity. If employees don’t use your new software or follow new business processes, you won’t achieve the business benefits you expect.

One way to reduce resistance to change is to increase employee involvement. For example, employees can help brand the project. You can run a contest and ask them to submit potential project names and project logos.

You can also reduce resistance by answering key questions: Why are we changing? What are we changing? Who will be changing? Most importantly, you should answer the question, What’s in it for me? You should explain how employees will benefit from the project, not just how the organization will benefit.

Why are Most Change Efforts Unsuccessful?

Lack of Executive Sponsorship

Executives should demonstrate support for the digital transformation and remain visible throughout the project. They should also build a coalition of other sponsors.

Ignoring the “People Side” of Change

You may be changing processes and technology, but employees will need to change too. They will have new roles and responsibilities, and if they don’t embrace these, your change management initiative may fail.

Lack of Dedicated Resources

The number of project resources you will need depends on the nature of change, scope of change, geographical distribution and project phase. A lack of resources translates to a lack of ownership and accountability.

Ignoring Resistance to Change

You can identify resistance to change by seeking feedback through meetings, interviews and focus groups.

No Communications Plan

Your plan should outline messaging, timing and audience. Typically, senior leadership and project leads will deliver these messages, which will be unique to each audience and each project phase.

Success of Change Management

The ideal change management methodology depends on the scope of change. Digital transformation typically involves large-scale change that entails strong executive sponsorship, a targeted communications plan and a large team of dedicated resources.

Why Cybersecurity Requires a Change Management Plan

Why Cybersecurity Requires a Change Management Plan

Some organizations believe the right technology and processes are all they need for strong cybersecurity. However, they are overlooking their strongest defense: their people.

Hackers know that employees are the quickest and easiest route to company data. Naturally, everyone in your organization should be responsible for protecting this data. But, how can employees be vigilant if they don’t know what to look for? It’s your responsibility to prepare them for the inevitable phishing scam, ransomware attack or public wifi hack.

A Change Management Plan for Cybersecurity

An ERP implementation shouldn’t be the only time your organization considers improving its cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a continuous battle that requires a long-term change management plan.

You can implement all the cybersecurity control frameworks you want, but your processes will become ineffective as soon as an employee clicks a phishing link. That’s why you need more than technical frameworks – you need clearly communicated best practices and recurrent training.

Why Employees Need Cybersecurity Knowledge

The “Old Ways” Are Easy

Imagine a world where you never need to change your passwords and you’re allowed to “work from home” at your nearest coffee shop. This is the world employees are leaving behind when they adopt new cybersecurity practices. This loss shouldn’t be treated lightly. Convincing employees to change familiar patterns will require compelling reasons. Your organization should communicate the importance of cybersecurity and emphasize what’s at stake in the event of a security breach.

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Cyber Safety is a Habit

Annual trainings aren’t enough. As technology grows in sophistication so do the techniques for hacking it. New vulnerabilities are created daily, and employees need to learn to recognize potential threats in all shapes and forms. Your organization should develop a continuous training plan addressing the different types of attacks each department might encounter. Some organizations go so far as to conduct simulated cyberattacks, so employees can learn from their mistakes – which is often the best form of learning.

Access Points are Numerous

The increased use of mobile devices and cloud technology presents a new challenge for organizations trying to secure company data. Employees can now access this data from anywhere via their mobile phones, which are vulnerable to mobile malware and infected apps, not to mention Wi-Fi hacking. However, it’s not difficult to equip employees with the knowledge necessary to protect their devices. Your organization should gain executive support for a cybersecurity change management plan, so you can implement training and communication initiatives that result in long-term behavior changes.

A Few Notes About Communication

Communicating with employees about cybersecurity is no different than communicating with employees about an ERP implementation. Both require strong leadership that fosters trust and two-way communication. Both entail precise timing and personalization. Both necessitate an organizational change management team with defined roles and responsibilities.

Why Organizational Change is so Difficult (According to Science)

Why Organizational Change is so Difficult (According to Science)

If you dread organizational change, you are not alone. Any type of work-related change, regardless of how large or small, is typically met with resistance. These sentiments are universal and affect everyone from part-time employees to C-level executives. Why? Because it’s built into our biology.

Here’s what you need to know about the science of change resistance:

1. We are creatures of habit

Researchers have determined that humans are most comfortable when involved in “high levels of repetitive activities within the same context day after day.” (1) Any deviation from this routine can be difficult to manage. This is true even when changes may be beneficial.

2. Change makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed

Change, particularly in the workplace, can trigger anxiety. New job responsibilities may make employees feel incompetent. As they worry about their job performance, they become increasingly fearful of organizational change. This is especially true for long-time employees who’ve been following particular business processes for a very long time.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

3. We hunger for certainty

The human brain yearns for certainty, and makes every effort to avoid uncertainty. Organizational change can cause employees to feel uncertain about their job security. Could process automation make their position obsolete?

4. We know that change can result in unforeseen problems

In everyday life, humans instinctively anticipate negative outcomes, regardless of how unlikely they may be. It goes without saying that the fear of negative outcomes leads to change resistance. What if an employee was greeted on Monday morning with the news that their supervisor was replaced by someone new? This may be good news if the old supervisor was a poor manager, but the employee may still focus on the negatives.

It’s impossible to deny that organizational change is difficult, even when changes are beneficial. Humans are wired to fear change, which is why organizational change management consultants exist.

Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of ERP in Developing Countries

Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of ERP in Developing Countries

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have proved effective in streamlining business processes in many highly urbanized countries. The enhancements it brings to organizations like private institutions and even governments are significant, especially in terms of delivering better customer service. By integrating data systems from various departments and subsections of an organization, ERP systems save money and improve decision-making time.

The benefits of ERP implementation are readily apparent in most developed countries, even though it’s not without its own challenges. For developing countries, however, those challenges appear steeper by comparison.

Addressing Complexities and Habits

ERP is fundamentally complex for a single person to grasp. Opting to use ERP in an organization means a massive overhaul in existing processes and habits to adopt wholly new ones. If that sounds hard, think of how people struggle when they try to quit smoking, or pledge to start a grueling exercise regimen. It’s often not a pretty picture, and people are likely to give up halfway and fall back to old habits. Now imagine doing that with hundreds or thousands of people, and we’re looking at a tremendous organizational change management challenge.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Adapting to New Systems

Compounding the challenge for developing countries is a particular set of factors unique to their setting. The most prominent of these key challenges is the inherent design of ERP systems as a product catering to western audiences. ERP’s implementation strategies were developed with western firms in mind, which makes their adoption in a market like India an exercise in futility.

Another key factor is the number of iterations that ERP systems embedded in western companies have undergone since its inception. This gives developed countries better capabilities and flexibility in adapting to changes. For developing nations with relatively new enterprises, tackling such changes that come with ERP can be much tougher.

Legacy systems like spreadsheet software (or even pencil and paper) often get in the way of implementing ERP. In relation to the previous points, it can be hard to pry old systems away from people who have been using them for years, even if it means replacing them with more efficient ones. Humans are creatures of habit, and resistance to change is quite natural especially in business settings.

Crucially, ERP stakeholders seek simplicity most of all. If we’re proposing increased efficiency in an organization’s work processes, an IT approach (as most ERP solutions are nowadays) is bound to reduce interest due to the perceived complications it brings in terms of usability, features, etc.

Using ERP Competencies to their Advantage

This doesn’t mean that ERP can never work with businesses in developing countries. These systems have plenty of promise when utilizing its core competencies. One study observed how a company in Asia used an ERP system to reduce ideation-to-implementation time, slash operational costs by 40%, accurately identify planning errors, and use the centralized data system to generate reports and devise unified strategies.

A Solution in the Cloud

The advent of cloud computing brought a new dimension and agility to ERP solutions. Using cloud-based ERP systems ensures businesses with more savings in operational costs, constant and timely system updates, and faster deployment compared to on-site ERP systems. The continuous expansion of internet access across the world makes it even easier for a business in any part of the world to acquire cloud-based ERP.

We can therefore infer that ERP systems have tremendous potential in accelerating progress in developing countries by introducing their local enterprise to the opportunities offered by such systems.

This is precisely the reason why experienced independent ERP consultants like Panorama Consulting exist: to provide expert insight on ERP systems that suit an organization’s requirements and conditions, be they infrastructure- or location-wise. Contact us today, and let’s work together on an ERP solution to optimize your burgeoning business for growth.

You Give Change a Bad Name: 5 Ways to Overcome Organizational Change Management Fraud

You Give Change a Bad Name: 5 Ways to Overcome Organizational Change Management Fraud

There’s a reason why some companies have a gag reflex to the term organizational change management. It’s because most change initiatives fail.

Organizational change management is one of the most misunderstood, nebulous, and ignored terms in the world of digital transformation and ERP implementation initiatives. For some:

  • It describes “touchy feely” activities that don’t deliver measurable business value;
  • Others have no idea what the term means, or maybe it’s nebulous at best;
  • It’s deemed noncritical, thus the choice to ignore it becomes an option;
  • Understand it, but don’t realize the direct correlation to ERP implementation success;
  • Chop it out of an ERP plan, with the goal of saving time or money;
  • Confuse it with new software training (it’s much bigger than just training).

Additionally, most ERP consultants have very myopic views of organizational change. Most are more comfortable with activities like software selection etc., it’s little wonder that organizational change has a severe perception problem, too many incomplete, mismanaged, or missing change management initiatives have led to implementation delays or failures, which has resulted in the aforementioned severe perception problem.

I was having trouble reconciling perception with reality, so I recently posed a hotly debated question on LinkedIn: since the term organizational change management leaves a bad taste in many people’s mouths, what are some alternative, more descriptive terms? I received some good suggestions in the comment thread, such as workflow alignment, people enablement, and stakeholder management. Others suggested that the name shouldn’t be changed since resistance to the term is a form of resistance to change in and of itself. Others called me out for allegedly not being enough of a supporter of organizational change.

After engaging in this online discourse, I realized that I was missing the bigger picture. Rather than trying to find a better name for organizational change, I realized that I needed to focus on defining what organizational change management is and should be – rather than relying on people’s perceptions.

Stakeholder Management

There’s usually someone at the executive or management level who isn’t on board with the changes. You may not win over everyone, but you should be able to convert most. For extreme resistors, your focus should be on neutralizing their negative impact on the change initiative(s). This can be accomplished by identifying key stakeholders and implementing a targeted plan to engage and “sell” them on the importance of the changes. Ensure there are solid lines of two-way communication with the key players within your organization. This might include the need to get your CIO to buy in. Some CIOs may be focused intently on the technical vision for the ERP project, to the detriment of the path that must happen to ensure success.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Business Process Change Impact

Business process management and change efforts are arguably the most important part of any digital transformation. I’m not talking about the way employees enter information into the system. Instead, I’m referring to the higher-level business process changes, as well as changes to people’s roles and responsibilities. How well do your newly defined processes meld with the new software? These changes can add up to death by a thousand cuts, so it’s important to ensure that the change impacts have been clearly defined and repeatedly vetted with employees. It’s harder and more time consuming than it sounds.

Employee Communications and Training

Everyone wants to know what the new system will mean to them personally. They want to know how their jobs are going to change. Some may fear being laid off, so address this early and spot on. They want to know what’s going to happen to that set of spreadsheets that only they understand, because they created them. Once specific processes and job changes have been identified, it is important to roll them out through a series of multi-channel employee communications. And these communications shouldn’t wait until training – they should start months before. A best practice is to vary your types of communication. Don’t rely on any one communication method, e.g. anticipate that some employees won’t read the emails.

Benefits Realization

Organizational change management shouldn’t just be a “touchy feely” work stream in your project. It should instead deliver measurable business value. Otherwise, it will always be perceived by some as a nice-to-have rather than a critical component of your project. Make sure that your organizational change activities all tie back to measurable business benefits, performance metrics, and key performance indicators. This is the best way to get executive attention and ensure that the entire project delivers a positive return on investment.

Organizational Readiness

You and your team will probably feel ready for the changes well before the rest of your employee base. Rather than relying on your gut to gauge whether or not your people are accepting the necessary changes, you need objective and quantifiable means of measuring employee readiness. This should be done via a series of online surveys and focus groups multiple times throughout your project so you can evaluate how the organizational change needle is moving. It will also identify ongoing pockets of resistance that should be addressed before going-live. Only flip the switch on the new system once the organization is ready for the changes.

Misunderstood perceptions of organizational change management won’t change overnight, but doing it and doing it right will ensure that it is well received within your organization.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, there are independent consultants like Panorama that know how to execute and facilitate comprehensive organizational change management efforts. An outside consultant can also be an effective way at getting employees to open up about their true feelings about the upcoming changes.

Cutting on Change Management Budget: a Mistake That Will Hunt you Down

Cutting on Change Management Budget: a Mistake That Will Hunt you Down

Every single ERP project, no matter the size, is about change. We all know that a new ERP system demands that organizations change the way they do business, otherwise why else would a company go through the painful process of an ERP implementation, right? The whole purpose behind selecting and implementing a new software system is to improve the organization and its processes. Most of the time the challenge is not the system itself, but the people using the system. Bringing a new software system means that people will have to adapt to a new way of doing things, and let’s be real, people do not like change. Even though most companies out there talk about how important their people are, somehow they seem to leave the organizational change management topic for a different conversation.

Many organizations seem to be very enthusiastic in the early stages of an ERP project about executing an organizational change management strategy, but for some inexplicable reason, the initiative vanishes slowly as the project moves on until they finally decide the budget is not enough to invest in the human factor. It is also common for organizations to think that it is the responsibility of project managers to execute an OCM strategy. Unfortunately, most of the time project managers do not have the necessary experience or what’s more important, the time – remember they are managing the project – to run an effective organizational change management plan.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

A comprehensive organizational change management strategy must be an integral part of any organizational transformation. It is indisputable that those projects that include a solid OCM strategy have a higher likelihood of success. A positive organizational change management strategy calls for a holistic take in regards to preparation and readiness. Companies need to plan ahead in order to overcome the resistance to change. If an organization hasn’t started organizational change management until end-user training comes along, then the project may be set up for a failure and the financial implications will reflect eventually by reducing benefits realization.

Do not wait until is too late and your own internal resources are depleted.  Take charge of your ERP project from day one and make sure that the backbone of your implementation is in fact your team. Don’t focus just on getting to the Go-Live date, instead focus on getting to the Go-Live successfully; these are actually two different things. Your organization should not only prepare for an initial decline in production, as well as for an initial increase in resistance from its people, but also for the fact that no matter how great your organizational management strategy is, you will never eliminate the human challenge completely.

Unless your organizations have a firm plan for training and a clear and committed organizational change management strategy, your new ERP system will just be another expensive effort to increase the bottom line. You must commit to your people and your people’s strategy before selecting your new ERP system.

How Your Digital Transformation Will Affect Employees

How Your Digital Transformation Will Affect Employees

No matter the size or complexity of your organization, ERP implementations entail significant organizational changes. From new technology to reengineered business processes, your employees are likely to feel the full impact of digital transformation. And you better believe they will resist it. Why? Because their roles and responsibilities are changing, and it feels like starting from square one.

What’s the most effective way of preparing employees for the impact of change? That would be organizational change management. An essential component of ERP implementations, change management focuses on communication, training and benefits realization with the goal of helping employees embrace change. By preparing for employees’ resistance to change, your organization can achieve a higher level of efficiency and maximize the ROI of your enterprise software.

The Importance of Organizational Change Management

When you develop and implement an organizational change management plan, you can expect to see increased employee buy-in, even to the point of excitement and enthusiasm at go-live.

However, when you don’t put the right change management activities in place, you face the following risks:

  1. Resistance to change due to lack of communication
  2. Lack of system usage since employees aren’t adequately trained
  3. Elusive business benefits because you didn’t assign accountability or establish metrics

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Change Management 101

The first step to developing a change management plan is to conduct an organizational assessment early in your project – ideally during the software evaluation and selection stage. This will identify sources of resistance within the organization so you can target your organizational change efforts. Your organization also should conduct change impact assessments, process training and organizational risk assessments.

In addition, you’ll want to develop a business case that can be translated into a benefits realization plan used to measure actual business results. If you can’t achieve business benefits with your core business as is, you can’t expect the ERP system to enable effective growth in the future.

An Organizational Change Management Success Story

A large organization with locations across the globe assembled an organizational change management team with representatives at each of their sites. Team members were assigned different tasks such as communications and training. As a result, the organization saw greater alignment and buy-in throughout implementation and following go-live.

No matter how many people you are able to dedicate – 1 or 501 – building an organizational change management team is essential.

More Than Cool Technology

While organizational change management might seem like a simple concept, many organizations don’t understand its value. However, if you’ve lived through an ERP implementation, you can attest to the fact that it’s not just about cool technology – if it was, employees would be more excited about it.

It’s up to you to find the right resources to help your organization benefit from digital transformation – whether that means attending a training such as Digital Enterprise Boot Camp or hiring an independent third-party. Information is power.

Be Different: Focus on Organizational Change Management

Be Different: Focus on Organizational Change Management

While digital transformation initiatives can be challenging, organizations that focus on organizational change management can greatly increase their chances of success by prioritizing people and processes over technology.

For years, people have struggled to understand why ERP projects fail. The reality is that the outcome of most ERP implementations depends on organizational change management. An effective change management strategy helps organizations manage expectations, reduce fear, increase buy-in and ensure a focus on performance optimization within their new ERP system. All of these benefits can have a material impact on the project’s success and return on investment.

Mitigating Risk

Project risks can include anything from operational disruption at go-live to cost overruns and extended duration. These risks are often increased when an organization can’t persuade employees to use new ERP software the way it was mean to be used. When you think of risk in this context, then organizational change management becomes one of the most powerful risk mitigation strategies. Focusing on training, job design, process gap analysis, business process testing and communication can go a long way in mitigating project risks.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

More Than Training

If an organization hasn’t started organizational change management until end-user training comes along, then the project may be in trouble. While end-user training is important, it is just one component of what is ultimately required to ensure employees embrace new enterprise software. An organizational change management plan should include organizational readiness assessments, change impact assessments, change discussions, communications plans and a number of other people-focused activities.

Just How Much is This Going to Cost?

While many executives want to focus on organizational change management, they often don’t know how much to invest in this important success factor. According to our 2016 Change Management Report, few organizations invest in sufficient change management. In fact, 54-percent of respondents allocated 25-percent or less of their project budget to organizational change management.

Budget cuts that look good on paper can have disastrous consequences in the long-term. Organizations need to understand where it makes sense to pragmatically minimize costs without compromising results.

Buy-in and Business Benefits

Focusing on employee buy-in will ensure that your digital transformation isn’t just another IT initiative. Digital transformation should be an enterprise-wide effort that helps your organization grow and achieve its goals. Don’t be afraid to be different.

How Sneaky is Your Organizational Change Management?

How Sneaky is Your Organizational Change Management?

That was a rhetorical question. In truth, it’s an oxymoron. Organizational change management is anything but sneaky.

The introduction of a new ERP system should never feel like an ambush by a hawk – employees need a bit more advance notice than that. With adequate warning and preparation, your employees won’t feel “eaten alive” by your new ERP system.

Think of an ERP implementation as more like a whale – it’s approach is felt long before its within sight. With a call at 188 decibels, blue whales can be heard from many miles away. Similarly, the decision to implement a new ERP system, should be announced many months in advance. Your project team and your executives need to communicate the right message at the right “volume” to adequately prepare employees for the “whale of an ERP system” that is coming their way.

While many organizations understand the importance of organizational change management, few understand how to develop a plan that effectively prepares employees for change. If your organization wants to minimize the effects of employee resistance, read on.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

One aspect of an organizational change management plan is the communications strategy. Employee buy-in depends on the timing and nature of your communication. In terms of timing, communicate early and often. In terms of the nature of your message, be sure it is clear and purpose-driven – what does your organization hope to achieve by implementing new ERP software?

Another important aspect of an organizational change management plan is the training strategy. While ERP vendors provide decent “out-of-the-box” training, it isn’t specific to your organization’s business processes. Employees should receive multiple rounds of both technical and process training that pertains to their specific functional area.

Obviously, this is a broad overview of a full organizational change management plan. Other essential components include organizational readiness assessments, change impact assessments, key performance indicators and workforce transition plans. Together, these elements will mitigate risk and make a noticeable impact on your ROI.

A Hawk’s Organizational Change Management Methodology

  • “Change management is too expensive. Let’s throw it out.”
  • “Oh, by the way, we’re going live with a new ERP system in a couple weeks.”
  • “Reasons aren’t important.”
  • “No one needs to like the system. We just need to use it.”
  • “Address your complaints to . . . the trash can.”

A whale is actually a pretty appropriate metaphor for an ERP implementation. This project may be the BIGGEST undertaking your organization has pursued in a long time. It makes sense that your communication needs to be equally astronomic.

Three Change Management Hacks to Ensure ERP Success

Three Change Management Hacks to Ensure ERP Success

ERP implementations entail significant operational changes. Whether it’s new business models or new business processes, these types of changes are never easy for organizations and their employees. This all means that organizational change management is critical to the success of your ERP project. However, most organizations don’t know how to integrate change management into their projects – assuming they understand what “organizational change management” means to begin with.

With this in mind, there are a number of “hacks” that executives can leverage to address the people side of their ERP project without investing too much time and money. These hacks may not be shortcuts, but they are the low-hanging fruit that can typically deliver the most value at the least cost. Here are three hacks that we’ve seen work very well with current and past clients:

1. Facilitate Organizational Change Readiness Assessments

 It’s impossible to know how to best effectuate change without first understanding what cultural and people issues you’re up against. Conducting a brief online survey and a series of isolated focus groups with key employees gives you a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of your current culture. You also will gain an understanding of necessary activities for migrating your organization from current to future state. Organizational readiness assessments are extremely low-cost activity and they deliver a great deal of value.

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2. Conduct Organizational Change Impact Assessments

While it may be easier to focus on the future state of business processes, it is also important to understand how these processes will be different from the status quo. This enables the change management team to communicate to employees how exactly their jobs will change. For example, the employee that created that sophisticated Excel spreadsheet ten years ago will want to know how new technology is going to change that process. Only by conducting an organizational change impact assessment can your team understand how to effectively communicate changes to employees.

3. Customize Your Training Materials to Fit Your Business Processes

Most ERP vendors have developed great training materials for their products, albeit generic ones. For example, Panorama was once involved in an ERP implementation at a large beverage manufacturer. When it came time to train employees using the vendor’s canned materials, most examples and case studies used a laptop manufacturer as an example. This created a great deal of confusion with employees and failed to consider nuances unique to their company. It is important that training materials be unique to your company, business processes and the specific ways you have configured and customized the software.

Every digital transformation has time and resource constraints, but that is no reason to cut change management from the mix. These three hacks are three good places to start when developing your initial organizational change management plan.

The ‘Success’ Hierarchy

The ‘Success’ Hierarchy

Hierarchy (Noun): A system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.

Think about it when it comes to royalty. It’s like a pecking order. The King or Queen make the decisions and then everyone “under” them will follow suit.

Change starts at the top, and in today’s world it is coming faster than ever. For a company to gain and remain successful, you have to be nimble and constantly be looking toward the horizon of innovation. Unfortunately, as humans, we are (usually) resistant to change.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Think about it when it comes to royalty. It’s like a pecking order. The King or Queen make the decisions and then everyone “under” them will follow suit.

Change starts at the top, and in today’s world it is coming faster than ever. For a company to gain and remain successful, you have to be nimble and constantly be looking toward the horizon of innovation. Unfortunately, as humans, we are (usually) resistant to change.

The “Discomfort Zone” takes three “P’s”:

The three of these are necessary for a successful ERP implementation. While the C-suite must initiate the change, it is imperative that employees are fully involved from the get-go. To have a comprehensive organizational readiness and communications plan means identifying the gaps that lead to the resistance. In turn, this will help with issues stemming from new ERP software. As you can see, this is a slippery slope, but a slippery slope that can be avoided.

Let’s go back to the hierarchy reference, every organization (of any kind, really) needs a leader. Business-wise, this typically stems from the C-suite; however, that isn’t always the case. By giving employees power from the beginning, they can help identify issues that could potentially paralyze a project. Leadership has many faces and it is up to you to find out who (can be multiple people) that may be.

New Year = New Business?

New Year = New Business?

About this time of the year, people start making their new year’s resolutions. We all know that local gyms will get more crowded, grocery stores will go through more fruits and veggies and people will want to “spend less and save more” – especially after the holidays. However, the business world has their own set of resolutions. With the new year comes new budgets and typically a new focus. Everyone wants to “do better” in every coming new year, but how do you know if you truly will?

The key is: plan for it.

Have you already started with your strategy plan? Post-holiday blues are real. It is hard to get refocused after the end of the year festivities. This can make starting a new project in January difficult. Do some preliminary research on ERP vendors (download our 2017 Top 10 ERP Systems Rankings Report to see how clients have ranked their vendors of choice) to find out what ones could potentially suit your organization’s needs.

Have any leftover funds from 2016? Near the end of the year, some organizations get very picky (with reason!) about what they spend their money on. Every bit counts! However, check to see if there is any money left over to allocate to your IT and operations budget—check if your fiscal year coincides with the calendar year. Also, keep in mind that you should invest in activities that will increase your odds of success so that you don’t waste money on software that doesn’t fit your business needs. Independent ERP consultants can look at your business from an outside perspective to see where you can use some help. They can recommend the right software or help with organizational change management to see if your employees are ready for a new ERP system.

Speaking of organizational change management… It is important to know that it is NEVER TOO EARLY to start organizational change management. It is a necessary in any organization—whether you decide to deep dive into an ERP implementation or not. No matter what technology you have, your employees have to run it. If they don’t get it—or don’t like it for that matter—what is the point in having it? By investing in organizational change management, your employees will get the proper training and understanding of your business and will help make it run MUCH smoother.

With the new year right around the corner, it is important to start thinking about what your professional focus will be. Make it a healthy 2017 in all of your endeavors, personal and professional alike.

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…But Are You?

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…But Are You?

By now, Christmas is in full steam. There are Christmas tunes on the radio, every store has decked their halls in wreaths and bows and there are sales around every corner. While you may be in full on Christmas spirit, have you thought about if your employees are feeling the joy?

What a lot of organizations fail to realize is: your business is run by your people. You can have all the new technology there is to offer, but if your employees are not having a holy jolly time, then the software is worthless.

While most people avoid change, there are ways to have your employees jump on board the Polar Express to success! (cheesy I know, but go along with it) Change starts from the top and trickles down. There must be executive buy in for your project to work. If your C-Suite isn’t on board, then why should your end users be? As our 2016 ERP Report outlines, only a small percentage of project teams feel as though their process and organizational changes were easy. It is vital to understand that organizational change and training issues account for the number one reason(s) why ERP implementations take longer than expected. 17-percent of projects attribute their number one implementation challenge to their organization’s organizational change and training issues.

So what needs to happen?

For starters, organizational change needs to be thought of as a necessity instead of a nice-to-have. Organizational change management (OCM) is VITAL to the success of your project. OCM is typically the first thing to go when the budget starts getting too high, when it should be the highest priority in the entire project. Effective change management have tangible and quantifiable results on a business’ digital transformation.

OCM is NOT a one-size-fits all

Even though Santa is tailored for children, not all kids are going to like him. Same goes for OCM. You can’t use the same OCM strategy for a $30M / year corporation that you would for a $5M / year family ran business. The specifics that go into creating an organizational change strategy must be tailored for the company. Ideally, this would happen during the software evaluation and selection stage. This way, the executive team will better understand the organizational dynamics, sources of resistance to change and the pockets of resistance within the organization.While it may not quite be Santa’s workshop, but your employees can be on board with change if you push them in the right direction.