As a reader of our blog posts and white papers, you probably know by now that one of the absolutely critical components of ERP success is organizational change management (or OCM). But did you know that a solid OCM plan actually can decrease the fixed costs of IT staffing? That’s right: employees who both believe in the ERP system’s capabilities and are trained on the ERP system’s capabilities quickly develop independent expertise. This means they are less prone to run to the IT department or help desk each time a new challenge presents itself. Instead, they often are educated and motivated enough to problem-solve on their own. And a staff that can problem-solve within an ERP system is a staff that will need less and less handholding by the IT department as time moves on, meaning the organization may be able to realize cost efficiencies by streamlining or reorganizing its IT department.
So how does a company make its employees confident enough to become their own support staff? Following are some organizational change tips to get the ball rolling:
1. Listen more than you talk. Every organization in the midst of an ERP implementation is excited . . . and rightfully so. But the benefits you see coming down the pike may not be readily apparent to the end-users of the system. Ask what your staff members think and listen to what they tell you. If you hear fear, anxiety, resentment, anger or any other negative emotion, work with a third-party consultant like Panorama to develop the OCM plan necessary to achieve alignment, buy-in and support. This is absolutely critical to any successful ERP implementation.
2. But talk more than you think you should. When it comes to ERP implementations, there is never too much communication. Be transparent with your staff about timelines, anticipated benefits, KPIs, hold-ups, issues and the like as you work through the project . . . and ask for suggestions as you go. The more involved they feel in the process, the more likely they are to have a stake in it. And if something happens to go awry (as it very well might), don’t clam up. Task your organizational change lead to issue any delicate information with a positive, forward-looking spin and respond to feedback.
3. And don’t forget to train the right way. Most ERP vendors will try to tell you that their boilerplate training materials are all that is needed to get an organization up and running on the software. Don’t believe the hype. Materials that are customized to your organization, its employees and its processes will go much further in expanding capabilities, instilling confidence and weaning your staff off their help desk dependency. Another key factor will be whether or not your organization targets training to the individual. Mountains of educational research show that people absorb information in different ways (by seeing, reading, doing, discussing, etc.) so be sure to provide opportunities for all of your staff to learn — not just those who happen to fit into the ERP software vendor’s idea of how your staff should learn.
In best case scenarios, ERP software provides dozens of ways for organizations to become leaner and more productive. The low-hanging fruit, however, just might be hanging around answering help desk queries in your IT department. If you can engage and support your staff throughout the ERP implementation and training, you might be able to create (and then eradicate) true IT staffing redundancies.
If you have any questions about organizational change management — or how Panorama’s proven OCM methodologies can bring business benefits to your business — contact us today. And don’t forget to sign up for the Organizational Change Management: A Critical (and Often Overlooked) ERP Success Factor webinar on May 17 at 10 a.m. MT.