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Businesses that implement ERP systems have nothing but good intentions when deciding to reengineer business processes and alter IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, employees sometimes overlook this good intent and focus solely on the consequences: new business processes means they must learn new procedures which means they must fumble through unfamiliar territory to get their work done.

Employees will go to great lengths to defend and protect the privilege – or, as some may call it, the “right” – to convenience and familiarity. In response to unwelcome changes, employees may choose to sabotage an ERP implementation by stubbornly sticking to old, inefficient processes. As Panorama has seen time and again, internal sabotage is no laughing matter.

Refusing to adapt to the new system is not even the worst employees can do. Some employees – especially those that feel disconnected to their colleagues – aim to do much greater damage to an ERP implementation and the company as a whole.

The boisterous employees are the ones to watch out for.

These type of employees will openly voice their discontent to their peers but clam up around the people who actually have the power to help them. By sharing concerns with fellow end-users who are in similarly powerless predicaments – i.e., they are expected to adapt to the new system but have no real decision-making power for the project as a whole – they spread negativity like a virus. Change-resistant employees who also happen to be outspoken can be a great hindrance to ERP success.

But widespread resistance to change does not necessarily have to lead to ERP failure. Effective organization change management (OCM) can empower employees to direct their questions and concerns to the right people in the form of constructive criticism (as opposed to bitter comments spoken behind executives’ backs).

To prevent internal sabotage, OCM plans should focus on training managers to recognize signs of employee unease and emphasize the importance of making time to speak with particularly discontented employees one-on-one. Because traditional OCM activities such as vigorous communication and open-door policies are often not sufficient for engaging severely distressed end-users, managers must make the effort to directly approach the end-users and facilitate discussion.

Another technique for reducing occurrences of internal sabotage is to foster a team-oriented culture. Reminding employees that “we’re all in this together” can humanize the project team, which makes employees less likely to cause the team “harm” by undermining the ERP initiative. Humanizing the project team and executives makes them seem more approachable and employees will be more likely to voice their concerns to the people with the power to make a difference.

Internal sabotage can be intentional or unintentional. Not all discontented employees intend to cause serious harm to the company, but unfortunately, this a common side effect of selfish, retaliatory behavior. When employees refuse to adapt to change or decide to spread negativity throughout the organization, they put the company at risk for slow implementation, decreased business benefits and ultimately, ERP failure.

Learn more about Panorama’s independent ERP consultants’ experience managing employee resistance by watching Panorama’s on-demand webinar, Organizational Change Management: A Critical (and Often Overlooked) ERP Implementation Success Factor.

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