Organizational change management is one of the most important aspects of an enterprise software project. It’s also one of the most challenging. 

As your company embarks on an ERP implementation or digital transformation, it’s important to avoid the change management challenges that are befuddling organizations across industries.

Today, we’re looking at a few of these challenges and sharing ways to overcome them.

6 Change Management Challenges

1. Lack of Executive Support

When change management issues occur, it’s often because executive sponsorship of change management was lacking from the beginning. Other times, executive support starts strong but eventually wanes.

A change management plan must have the support of upper management. Without the active sponsorship of your C-suite, your plan will be nothing more than ideas on paper. It requires money and resources to implement a change strategy, and executives are the ones with the power to allocate budget and team members to get the effort off the ground and keep it afloat.

Before taking the next step in your ERP implementation, make sure your leaders are on board with both the project goals and the change management activities necessary to achieve those goals.

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.

2. Breakdowns in Communication

Effective change management hinges on communication. When a communication breakdown occurs at any point in the cycle, it can make technology and process changes infinitely harder to implement.

Executives, managers, and project team members must be in constant communication concerning the goals and progress of the project. At the same time, department leaders and individual employees must communicate about their needs and expectations, and those messages must be relayed to upper management. 

Finally, the change management team must communicate with all project stakeholders to ensure they understand what’s changing in their individual roles and responsibilities and how these changes will benefit them.

3. Misaligned Project Goals

What does your organization want to achieve by implementing a new ERP solution? Do you want to standardize and automate core business processes? Are you looking to cut costs, improve efficiency, and achieve a higher level of customer service?

If your project leadership can’t agree on common goals, it can be difficult to design and execute a stakeholder communication strategy. It’s important to obtain organizational alignment before developing messaging for a communications plan because cohesive communication builds trust.

4. Only Focusing on Training

Employee training is an important part of a change management strategy. A lack of knowledge can lead to fear, so by learning how to use a new ERP system, employees become more confident and more willing to embrace change. 

That said, end-user training shouldn’t be the totality of your change management initiative. Other components, such as resistance management and change impact assessments are equally important but often overlooked. 

In addition to putting these strategies into action, it’s also important to ensure they’re executed correctly and completely. Too many times, change leaders rush through these components just to check them off.

5. Employee Resistance

Many change management efforts fail because employees refuse to get on board with the new ERP software. It’s human nature to question the unfamiliar and that which disrupts your everyday routine.

Instead of reactively fighting this resistance, learn why it happens so you can proactively prevent it.

This means including resistance management in your change management plan so you can mitigate much of the potential resistance and know how you plan to manage the resistance that does arise.

One resistance management strategy involves putting steps in place to stop the spread of misinformation. You can do so by keeping your communication clear and consistent and keeping your ear to the ground for any harmful rumors.

Designating change champions can also stop the spread of misinformation as these team members can rally enthusiasm around the project, making employees less likely to believe and spread negative rumors.

6. Cultural Issues

When you notice change resistance, remember that resistance can often stem from your organizational culture. Employee buy-in can be impossible to achieve without a cultural environment that supports flexibility and ingenuity.

Does your culture empower employees to suggest new ideas, or do you tend to operate under the mantra of “This is just how it’s always been”?

If it’s the latter, then introducing a new digital strategy is definitely going to throw your team members for a loop and lead to change resistance.

There are several issues that can contribute to a change-resistant culture. These include:

  • A history of failed organizational change
  • Company politics 
  • Personal motivations and agendas

Conducting various types of change management assessments can help you gauge whether your culture and employees are ready for an ERP project. You may find that you need to address certain internal issues before you can take the next step. 

Avoid These Change Management Challenges

If our software expert witness experience has taught us anything it’s that change management challenges typically occur in companies that focus more on the technical aspects of their project than the human side.

Based on this, we can definitively say that the ERP comparison effort shouldn’t consume all your resources and attention. With the right level of focus on organizational change management, you can avoid these common pitfalls. 

Our organizational change management consultants can help you ensure your company embraces the new technology and processes you’re planning to implement. To learn more about change management, check out our post, What is Change Management? Also, contact us below for a free consultation.

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