Facilitating an open and honest dialogue between your team members and departments is critical to project success.

This is especially the case during an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation. A solid communication plan has the power to increase the business benefits you realize from your new software.

However, ERP communication isn’t always easy. Today, we’re sharing the challenges of organizational communication that can lead to project failure. 

ERP Training Plan Success Story

We helped this manufacturer implement an ERP training strategy to increase user adoption of its new ERP system.

5 Challenges of Organizational Communication

1. Lack of Executive Buy-In

Change can be nerve-wracking for employees, but if employees see their leaders supporting the new ERP software, they’re liable to follow suit. As such, executives must be present in every phase of the implementation and be some of the project’s biggest cheerleaders.

The best-laid communication plan will struggle to get off the ground if your C-suite isn’t fully engaged. You can’t expect your employees to rally behind the ERP project if their bosses aren’t doing the same. 

Executives must attend steering committee meetings, make the final call on important project decisions, and be available to answer employee questions as they arise. 

2. Underemphasizing OCM​

It can be difficult to effectively communicate with team members who are frustrated. Anything you say is liable to go in one ear and out the other as they contend with their own fears and worries.

This disengagement is common in any type of enterprise software implementation. Employees often resist new workflows, worrying that automated tools will make their position less critical. They might also look at the new technology and fear that it’s too advanced for them. 

Project leaders can ease all these anxieties, but their approach must be strategic. This is where organizational change management (OCM) comes in. This is an approach that prioritizes the people side of a change, making sure employees have the resources they need to embrace new processes and technology.

In addition to employing clear and consistent communication, OCM is also about providing adequate training to every employee. A comprehensive skills assessment can help you understand what each employee currently knows and the skills they need to develop. 

strategies for improving organizational communication

3. An Unclear Enterprise Strategy

To be effective, project communication must be cohesive. You can’t have one project leader who says one thing and another who directly contradicts that statement.

Before you begin talking about the project with employees, make sure your project team members are all on the same page. You can accomplish this by developing a strategic plan that addresses big questions, such as:

  • What is the size, scale, and significance of this project?
  • How will ERP software help us reach our short-term and long-term goals?
  • What level of change management is required to get there?

Only when you have reached a consensus on these answers can you create a united front. It’s imperative that everyone communicating about the project knows exactly why the initiative is happening, the steps it will entail, and the benefits it’s expected to deliver.

4. Not Reaching All Employees

It’s easy to underestimate just how many employees an ERP implementation will affect. You might know that upper-level managers will be impacted, but what about the employees who report to them? What about their colleagues?

It can be difficult to know precisely who communicates with whom over the course of a given business day. This is especially the case in organizations that are large and located in multiple geographies. 

If you want to understand cross-functional workflows from beginning to end, then employing business process management is the way to go. This approach can help you visualize the interactions and handoffs that occur on a daily basis, allowing you to identify all the people who will be impacted by the coming changes. 

With an understanding of these change impacts, you can develop a communication plan that includes personalized messaging for a variety of stakeholder groups.

5. Ignoring Change Resistant Employees

As mentioned, you may have some people who are resistant to the project at first but, with some encouragement, eventually warm up to the idea. 

Then, there are the long-term nay-sayers who threaten to usurp all your efforts. These are the people who vocally disapprove of the software and have no qualms about letting everyone know.

While it’s easy to brush their remarks aside, it’s important to listen to what they have to say. In some cases, these detractors may have valid concerns about the project that you hadn’t considered. By taking the time to hear them out, you can discern whether they’re genuinely concerned or just griping. 

If it’s the latter, your team should devise a strategic communication plan to mitigate the ongoing negativity. While a degree of resistance is expected, someone who openly complains the entire time can bring others down, and that’s a domino effect you don’t want. 

Poor Communication Can Derail Any ERP Project

When you know about the challenges of organizational communication ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared to steer clear of them. All it takes is the right change management communication strategy.

Our team of change management consultants can help you develop this strategy, so you hit every stakeholder with the right message at the right time. Contact us below for a free consultation.

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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