Any time you introduce new workflows or software to your organization, you’re asking your employees to pivot. For some, the change is easy and manageable. For others, it conjures up feelings of resentment, especially if you’re altering familiar processes. 

This is where change management comes in. While organizational change management (OCM) is about managing the people side of any type of change, ERP change management is about managing the people side of a specific type of change: an ERP implementation.

Today, we’re sharing some of the best practices to follow as you develop an OCM strategy for your ERP project. 

6 ERP Change Management Best Practices​

1. Build the Case for Change

Before you can truly begin an ERP implementation, you must build a case for it. Otherwise, it can be difficult to secure the budget and resources you need to see the project through to completion. 

Executives need more than lofty promises. They need to clearly understand the project scope as well as the rollout strategy, implementation schedule, and projected benefits. By communicating these details early on, you can build credibility and obtain buy-in. 

Once the ERP project is underway, be sure to provide regular updates so your leadership team knows how to support the change at every turn. 

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. Approach All Levels

While you need the support of your C-suite to get your ERP project off the ground, they aren’t the only ones you’ll need to convince.

From your top executives to your newest intern, everyone should understand why the new software is necessary and the benefits it can bring. This might mean using visuals and reports to substantiate your claims.

It also means conducting change management assessments, such as a change impact assessment. This assessment can help you define the positive impacts each stakeholder can expect from the ERP system.  

3. Conduct a Readiness Assessment​

Is your organization really ready to start this ERP implementation? While you might have strong feelings about replacing your inefficient technologies, what about the people side of the project?

You never want to upgrade just for the sake of upgrading or implement one of the top 10 ERP software systems just because everyone else is. You need to be fully confident that this is the best step forward for your entire enterprise.

A change readiness assessment can help you understand organizational attributes, like the number of change initiatives that are already happening. It also pinpoints the groups and individuals who will feel the effects of the change most directly and predicts how they might react. 

This can help you understand where you need to focus your attention at every point, including the post-live stage. When you know the individuals who are most likely to detract from the project, you can place more emphasis on helping them navigate it. 

4. Easier Cross-Department Collaboration

Every day, employees working in different departments must communicate with one another and share information. Salespersons must contact the warehouse, and HR teams must work with project managers. Meanwhile, accounting experts are calling the C-suite and marketing personnel, while collaborating with customer service representatives.

Traditionally, these teams would access an internal network to store and share files through a folder-based system. Not only was this time-consuming to navigate, but it also led to issues with version control and user access. It became even more complicated when these insights were spread across different machines and systems in multiple locations.

With integrated CRM and ERP software, all authorized users can log into a shared central platform. They all have access to the same information in real time. If someone makes a change to the data, it updates across the board. 

This helps employees work together more easily, so they can reach their shared goals. It also reduces communication breakdowns and operational siloes, which indirectly improves employee morale

4. Build a Change Culture

Successful ERP change management doesn’t happen overnight. To help your employees understand and embrace what lies ahead, it’s important to establish a company culture where innovation and change are celebrated and encouraged. 

If everyone feels validated and knows that they can contribute to the greater organizational good, it’s less jarring when a new eCommerce, supply chain management, or manufacturing ERP system is introduced. 

If your culture is already set up this way, then use the ERP implementation to reinforce this culture of continuous improvement. By explaining how the new system will fit with your culture, you can minimize resistance and drive workplace support. 

5. Customize Your ERP Training

An effective ERP training strategy can go a long way toward mitigating employee resistance.

The key is to tailor your approach to each group. Using a one-size-fits-all strategy assumes that everyone will be using the same aspects of the system. This could never be true since employees have different roles and thus different workflows.

Referring to your change impact assessment, you can see which workflows each employee will need to learn in the new system and how these differ from their current workflows.

In addition to the training materials that your ERP vendor provides, you should develop custom guides based on the process changes that you documented for each group. By doing so, you can meet each learner where they are and equip them with the knowledge they need to integrate the new system into their day-to-day job. 

6. Fine-Tune Your Communication Plan

A majority of your OCM strategy will hinge on knowing what to say and when to say it.

Like training, a generic approach won’t work here. While the basic information will stay the same, you’ll need to tailor the tone, content, and direction of your message based on who’s listening. 

For instance, your C-suite may be most interested in hearing financial and operational updates, while your warehouse wants logistical data. Meanwhile, employees, in general, want to know if the new technology will replace their jobs. 

A well-prepared communication plan is the answer. Take the time to identify your functional groups and strategize how you will cater your content to answer their questions, minimize their worries, and maximize their support. 

As you do so, be as forthcoming as possible, sharing updates as you receive them. 

Find ERP Success Through Change Management

An ERP system implementation can help your company streamline operations and improve efficiencies. However, your workforce might be hesitant to move forward with the change, especially with so many unknowns hanging in the balance.

By prioritizing ERP change management, you can equip your workforce with the confidence they need to embrace the new system. 

Ready to get started? Contact our change management consultants below for a free consultation.

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