It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an ERP implementation. The technology is new, the software is promising, and the CTO is revved up.
However, once go-live rolls around, many companies find that the majority of employees are resistant to use the new software.
This is why change management assessments are critical. What is change management? It is the process of looking at the human side of a project. Today, we’re outlining a few different types of assessments and discussing the value that each one can provide your organization.
Change Management Case Study
The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.
Why Conduct Change Management Assessments?
Shouldn’t your employees just accept the new workflows and embrace the technology meant to make their lives easier?
While it sounds simple in theory, the reality is that any type of ERP project or digital transformation can result in resistance, frustration, and pushback from your workforce. This, in turn, could lead to ERP failure.
As you reengineer your business processes and improve existing workflows, you’re changing the familiar best practices that your team members love. Even if the new technology is faster and easier to use than your legacy systems, it’s common for workers to resist using it.
Planning ahead can help you avoid this roadblock. Before starting an ERP project, you need to clearly understand a few key points:
- The overall impact the change will have on your organization
- Your employees’ readiness for change
- What change management activities to include in your project plan
Change management assessments can provide the answers you need and inform how you manage change resistance. The sooner you identify employee resistance, the earlier you can start realizing the benefits of your new ERP solution.
3 Essential Change Management Assessments
1. Change Impact Assessment
In a change impact assessment, business leaders examine the potential effects that might occur after they implement a proposed change.
What processes will be impacted? Which people will the change the most affect? The answers to these questions will guide you in developing an organizational change management plan.
Start by considering the following three aspects of the change:
- The consequences of making the change
- The mandatory resource modifications that the change will catalyze
- The efforts and tasks required to complete the change
The main point of this exercise is to minimize any negative effects that the change might have. If you take a proactive approach and address these issues before they become pain points, you can avoid surprises down the road.
Resource constraints are one example of an unwelcome surprise. You don’t want to find yourself halfway through an ERP project only to find that the subject matter experts you wanted on the project no longer have the capacity to participate.
Anticipating such issues ahead of time has two main benefits:
Minimize Ripple Effects
In any enterprise software project, it doesn’t take much for one small problem to snowball. Soon, issues are popping up all over the place due to one inefficiency.
Prevention is critical, especially for projects where quality and safety are paramount. In these cases, a minor infraction could have detrimental consequences.
It’s better to identify and address issues while they’re still small. As such, we recommend continuously monitoring the impacts of change throughout the project.
Control Project Scope
Try as you might to keep them in check, projects have a way of creeping beyond their intended scope. This often happens when a project has hundreds or even thousands of intertwined processes.
A change impact assessment gives you a clearer view of how each process will change and how that will impact related processes. Otherwise, a single change order could become more complex than you imagined.
For example, consider what would happen if a developer promised something to an end-user without first conducting an impact assessment. Suddenly, that “quick fix” becomes a months-long project because there were unidentified consequences of making a minor tweak.
2. Organizational Readiness Assessment
Without an active and involved workforce, even the most impressive ERP system could fail to deliver its anticipated benefits. The involvement of your employees directly influences how quickly you can implement change — and start seeing real results.
An organizational readiness assessment helps you predict the degree to which your employees will be supportive of the changes that lie ahead. Through this analysis, our clients typically come to one of three realizations:
- Their company culture is open to embracing change
- Their company culture is resistant to change
- Their company culture doesn’t align with the changes being proposed
With this knowledge, you can create a change management plan that addresses weaknesses in your company culture and prepares your employees to respond favorably to the new system.
There are two main benefits that this type of change management assessment can help you achieve:
Identify the Root Causes of Resistance
Often, employee resistance will resemble irritation. As such, it’s tempting to think that your workforce simply has it out for you. They’re upset about the changes and want to make the transition as difficult as possible.
Usually, resistance is the byproduct of miscommunication. Unless they clearly and fully understand why the change is taking place, the specific changes that will happen, and how the change will affect their individual jobs, employees are prone to push back.
Other times, resistance might stem from a distrust of senior leaders or extreme organizational silos.
An organizational readiness assessment helps you identify these root causes so you can ensure that the current level of resistance doesn’t continue throughout the project.
Gain Employee Buy-In
An organizational readiness assessment gives you greater insight into employees’ individual needs. You can use this knowledge to inform your business process management efforts by designing processes that employees are more likely to support.
The insights from this assessment can also help you develop messaging that resonates with individual employees. This, in turn, leads to further buy-in.
3. Stakeholder Analysis
In an ERP system implementation, there are two spheres of influence. One is the immediate project environment. The other is all the major interests that operate outside of this realm.
Your stakeholders are in the second realm. Although they might not be engaged in hands-on project activities, they have a direct connection to your effort and will benefit if it succeeds (and vice versa).
A stakeholder analysis refers to the techniques or tools that a company uses to identify and understand the needs of these stakeholders. Through this exercise, you can get a clearer picture of what your stakeholders care about, as well as the relationships that exist between them.
When you know this information, you can approach individual stakeholders with greater care and caution. You’ll be able to implement changes that you know they care about — ones that deliver real benefit to them. You’ll also know which issues and topics to avoid so you don’t step on any toes.
There are two main benefits to conducting a stakeholder analysis:
Guide Process Improvements
Business process reengineering is often required to better align your workflows with your project goals. While it isn’t always easy and can lead to pushback, it’s important to rethink old and familiar “best practices” that are no longer helping you reach your organizational goals.
As you’re brainstorming which processes to change and how to optimize them, you can use inputs, ideas, and suggestions from key stakeholders. They’ll be able to look at the project from a different perspective and can propose adjustments that make smart use of the new technology.
Create Change Champions
Throughout your ERP project, there will inevitably be people who are more actively involved and vocal about the change than others. Many organizations leverage this enthusiasm to ramp up excitement and energy within their workforce.
While your project team members will champion the project to some degree, it can help to have someone outside of the immediate effort to lend their voice.
Many of the stakeholders you outlined in your analysis may be able to naturally assume this role. If they visibly support the change, they can elicit the same level of buy-in from their peers. This can have a positive impact on the project that drives user adoption and minimizes workplace resistance.
Will You Encounter Change Resistance?
For most organizations, the answer is yes.
However, it doesn’t have to derail your plans. With these change management assessments, you’ll learn how to identify and move past the root causes of resistance. Ultimately, you’ll be able to develop a more effective change management strategy.
The more time your employees spend using your new ERP software solution instead of resisting it, the greater impact the software will have on your bottom line. Need help getting there? Our change management consultants can help you conduct the right organizational assessments and understand the results. Contact us below for a free consultation.