A widely known critical success factor for effective ERP or large IT projects is organizational change management. But what exactly is change management, and what key activities should you include in your project plan?

Organizational change management means a lot of different things to different people. It is a broad topic that encompasses everything from ensuring employee buy-in to organizational design to communications and training. It might include cultural assessments, organizational assessments, executive alignment, and many other topics.

A common reality of ERP projects, however, is that there is not an unlimited budget or resources to implement a huge amount of change management activities. While organizational change management is very important to successful IT projects, some aspects of change are more important than others and have a more immediate impact. I typically advise focusing on organizational change activities that are going to have tangible results on the success of the implementation.

Organizational Change Management Considerations for Driving Successful ERP Projects

  1. Define your “as-is” business processes for each location, as well as what the “to-be” operating model will be across locations. This is an opportunity to standardize your operating model, if it isn’t already. This documentation will also help you identify how your organization and processes will change after ERP.
  2. Define key stakeholders and change agents from each plant to ensure you have sufficient involvement and representation from each area. These people will also help identify change activities that will work for their specific work locations.
  3. Define performance measures at the plant level, which then link back to your high-level business case and ROI analysis. This will “operationalize” your business case and assign accountability to people at the factory level to ensure you realize measurable business improvements as a result of ERP.
  4. Measure baseline, pre-implementation measures and define performance targets to quantify how ERP will improve your business. Just as importantly, plan to conduct a post-go-live audit to measure performance after your implementation to ensure you are realizing your projected business benefits.
  5. Ensure you have project subject matter experts and core team members who understand your operations from all key locations. These people will be instrumental in helping implement business process and organizational changes.
  6. Identify the impact that ERP will have on employees’ jobs, and develop a change management, communications, and training program that focuses on those employee groups with the largest impacts.

This is just a starting list of some of the key activities I recommend considering during an implementation as part of an effective IT organizational change management program.

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