Organizational change management is one of the most important critical success factors for any enterprise software initiative, but it is even more critical for global ERP software implementations. Challenges such as employee acceptance of redesigned business processes are magnified by issues related to cultural differences, inter-office politics, language barriers, and organizational complexity.
A coordinated global organizational change management initiative can help alleviate some of these risks. We have helped manage organizational change for enterprise software initiatives for numerous multi-national companies such as Samsonite, Kodak, and Nufarm. Based on this experience, below are five tips to address the organizational complexities of a global ERP implementation:
- Business process standardization. Companies with global offices, particularly if those locations were acquired from another company, often have very non-standardized business processes. A global enterprise software implementation provides an opportunity to standardize processes across locations, but it can be very challenging to make that change happen. Organizational change management is crucial to overcoming such challenges.
- Understanding of local needs. Standardization is important to optimize ERP benefits and achieve a positive return on investment. On the other hand, it is also important to understand local needs to ensure that the standardized operational model of the new system will accommodate local needs. Even if every local need or want is not addressed via the new system, listening to local needs goes a long way toward securing employee buy-in and support for the new system across the globe.
- Localized delivery of employee communication and training. Not everyone speaks English or the preferred language of your corporate headquarters, so it is important to communicate and train in the language most appropriate for each location. We have worked with many multi-national companies where management and key team members in overseas locations speak perfect English, but it is not necessarily the case for lower-level employees. New ERP software takes enough time to learn without language barriers, so translation of key messages and training will typically pay dividends in the long run.
- Rely on your change agents. Each major office should have a local representative that acts as a change agent for the project team. These change agents typically represent the local interests of their offices, validate how standardized business processes will work with their location, and communicate key process and organizational changes to their respective stakeholders. This employee representation is key to a successful implementation.
- Leverage performance measures. Performance measures transcend language and culture in a way that everyone can understand. They should be used to quantify the results you expect to achieve from your ERP software investment and how each local office is expected to contribute to the improvements. These measures become important in identifying opportunities to improve results after go-live.
These are just a few of the many things to keep in mind when managing change in a multi-national environment. Visit our resource center to view our detailed presentation about how to handle organizational change management for global ERP software implementations.