Developing the right communications strategy for an ERP implementation can present a major organizational challenge. This is especially true when navigating the hazardous waters of organizational politics. Creative ERP communications tactics can make or break your ability to successfully implement an ERP system. Following are six ERP communication tactics that you may have overlooked:
1. Establish a Project Brand – Products and services have brands so why not an ERP implementation? A brand is a unique value proposition expressed in a way that creates loyalty among key audiences. It explains why employees should care about and support the ERP implementation and it can persuade key decision-makers of the need for change. Don’t be afraid to have fun with a project brand – initiate a contest and celebrate the winners. Never underestimate the power of a great name and design.
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2. Distribute Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Documents – ERP implementations, by nature, cause both excitement and anxiety within an organization. This inevitably leads to people asking a lot of questions. FAQ documents provide answers to commonly asked questions about an ERP implementation. If distributed at critical touch points, FAQ’s help alleviate anxiety among end-users.
3. Set up a Project Portal Website – A project portal website serves as a central location for people to find information about the ERP implementation. Common materials shared are implementation plans, upcoming events and training schedules. Smaller organizations may use a bulletin board to disseminate important information. A central location to share information allows an organization to keep everyone updated on implementation progress and encourages collaboration and participation from all stakeholders.
4. Utilize Change Agents – Change agents are people inside the organization who liaison between the technical team and the rest of the organization. They are likely to hear different thoughts, concerns and reactions related to the ERP business transformation. As trusted advisors and super-users of the new tool they can be utilized to provide key messages to end-users.
5. Develop a Communications Plan – It is important to identify and understand the needs and concerns of different stakeholders. For example, end-users will want to know how their jobs will change or how they will be trained on the new ERP system; Customers will want to know how the ERP system will impact their ability to place orders or make payments. A clear understanding of stakeholder needs allows the organization to develop a targeted communication plan that outlines communication requirements for each group and provides a timeline of when and by whom the information should be communicated.
6. ERP Update Meetings – Routine town hall meetings can provide an overview and update on the ERP implementation to all employees. They should be scheduled at critical times throughout implementation when key information needs to be shared. This is a time for executives and implementation team members to be visible and promote implementation buy-in. Town halls can also be used to celebrate achievements with the project team; pizza parties and ice cream socials can facilitate team-building among the entire organization.
Communications is a vital component to your overall organizational change management strategy. Using innovative ideas and tactics to communicate important change management messages increases team buy-in and positions your ERP implementation for success.
Written by January Paulk, Director of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.