Business team and growing chartIntroducing a new ERP system can be like throwing a bottle of bleach into a delicate ecosystem if not executed well.  We could talk about critically important things like top-down support or selecting the right system, but let’s assume those steps were well executed.

Don’t underestimate the human factor.

While most of today’s job descriptions look to employees to be able to handle change well, we know the opposite can sometimes be true.  A conscientious employee may have spent years working around inferior systems.  Introducing change to someone who has done a creative job of mitigating system limitations might feel like a slap in the face.  Like it or not, most of us are creatures of habit.

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It is vital to get your team involved with organizational change management early when contemplating system changes.  Not just the management team, but your all-stars that push the buttons to get the product out the door.  This can be challenging to do because your MVPs are probably too busy doing the work.  However, getting them involved will often provide a plethora of details that may otherwise go uncovered.  It’s also an opportunity to make these contributors feel important.  They’ve somehow made things work and haven’t been sitting around complaining.  Lift them up by valuing each nugget of information they give you.  It will help with their buy-in down the road.

Done correctly, each employee feels important because they can describe the process in detail often without political correctness.  As you may imagine, their candor is invaluable and has the possibility to mitigate system changes that were not in the original scope or budget.

OOPS … Forgot to do that part, or didn’t do it in enough depth

Call in the Super User.  Great term, isn’t it?   Kind of like super food.  Super Users are almost always a positive in any scenario.  If you’re not familiar with the term, the Super User is an experienced, knowledgeable user of the new system you are deploying.  They aren’t usually managers, but are talented, detail oriented workers that know that when the screen freezes, here’s what you do.

Back to the, “human factor.”  Reward your Super Users and pair them with your best workers for your roll out.  Keep in mind that rewards don’t always have to be financial. Instead, you can get creative and use a combo of financial and recognition rewards for more impact.  Celebrate success with the entire team and use the team camaraderie to endure the bumps.

As a manager implementing a new CRM system at a previous company, I had not done a good job at involving my end users beforehand.  However, I was familiar with the Super User approach.  We did some classroom and hands on training by partnering the Super Users with our training staff.  And when our go live day came, we had Super Users sprinkled in our call center standing and ready.  Yes, standing.  Anyone in need of help put their hand up and the Super User quietly assisted.

When focusing on the successful execution of a new ERP system, be sensitive to the emotions of end users, open to assisting them during the transition in creative ways and quick to celebrate the little wins.  While the old system worked, the new one should propel efficiency. However, you will need a willing, appreciated workforce to reach that goal.  A team that struggles and learns together ends up stronger and more cohesive.

Written by Bob Blanchette, Manager of Quality and Client Satisfaction.

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