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A strong organizational change management team is a critical component of ERP implementations that is often overlooked. Without the contributions and encouragement of a change management team, the ERP project team will most likely be overwhelmed by project fatigue and conflicting priorities.

A change management team should be responsible for working with third-party consultants to develop communication and training strategies that address how end-users will be informed of process changes, how they will come to accept those changes and how they eventually will become comfortable using the new ERP system.

Additionally, the team should lead and support all stakeholders that could be potentially affected by process changes wrought by the new system. Following are five characteristics of a strong change management team:

1.   Leading by example. The change management team should not only communicate that the ERP implementation is a priority, they also should demonstrate this in their actions and decisions. There’s no doubt that the team will have to make tough decisions, such as postponing or suspending another initiative outside of the ERP project. In order to make such decisions, the team needs to understand the pressures of competing priorities and be able to communicate their concern to the project team.

2.    Recognizing achievements. When the project team loses sight of priorities, reinforcing these priorities through recognition of effort goes a long way. The change management team should regularly acknowledge and celebrate the work being done and sacrifices being made by the project team, SMEs and end-users.

3.    Promoting accountability. Speaking to project team members about their responsibilities will reinforce their accountability to each other and to the organization as a whole. The change management team should encourage team members to hold each other accountable and to voice disagreements constructively. Regular meetings are a great way to lay everything on the table for discussion and to encourage the project team to come to a consensus. Once a consensus is reached, the change management team should ensure everyone understands the shared responsibilities and reinforce overall expectations.

4.    Including change agents. Change agents may be a part of the change management team, or they may just serve as liaisons between the project team and end-users. Either way, change agents can redirect employees’ attention to what really matters – the goals and objectives of the organization as a whole and their individual role in the success of the implementation.

5.    Communicating effectively. Organizations should staff their change management teams with strong verbal and written communicators. Team members should be empathetic but persistent.

Time constraints and financial concerns cause many organizations to push organizational change management to the backburner. However, an on-time and on-budget ERP implementation is not necessarily a successful one unless it brings measurable business benefits and helps your organization achieve its long-term goals.

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