Never equate activity with efficiency. Organizations have a long standing history of putting a high level of emphasis on the software being implemented and ignoring the people side of the implementation. In other words, organization’s consistently value technology first and people second.
As we know, ERP systems are complex and ever-evolving. New features and functions are constantly added while ERP vendors rapidly extend the functionality of their core systems. Various types of ERP software and deployment options further add a dizzying array of choices for organizations about to deploy new enterprise software. Add to the mix upstart ERP and CRM systems that are threatening incumbent ERP vendors – such as Salesforce.com, Workday and Odoo open source software – it is no wonder that navigating the technology alone can consume most of the bandwidth of many executives and project teams.
Although the technological landscape of ERP systems is changing rapidly, the variables most critical to ERP success have fortunately not changed over my 20 years in this industry. Issues related to people are still most likely to make or break an ERP implementation, yet executives and project teams have a tendency to overlook this important detail, often in the name of navigating the complex technical landscape mentioned above.
But, there’s good news: the things that make people tick haven’t really changed in the last 20 years, either. The end-users of your ERP system are still going to either buy-in or resist the changes based on pretty simple and predictable criteria. Regardless of whether you were implementing ERP systems 20 years ago, you’re starting your implementation today or plan to 10 years in the future, the effectiveness of your impact and management of people during this business transformation will determine whether your project succeeds or fails.
This explains why organizational change management is hands-down the most important aspect of any business transformation such as a CRM, ERP or other enterprise software implementation. All the bells, whistles and sexy technology in the world doesn’t mean a thing if people don’t leverage that technology to improve business operations. Many issues may be overlooked when executives do not invest in OCM. It can be anything from an organization’s individuals not understanding the changes that had been made, a lack of proper training, business processes not being properly defined, internal politics and infighting disruptions or roles and responsibility changes without notice– all of which lead to business disruptions both during the implementation and after go-live.
To make matters worse, most ERP vendors, system integrators and ERP consultants aren’t good at addressing the people side of the equation. They know their software well and provide technology experts that are able to configure, build and test world-class solutions, but effective organizational change management requires a completely different skill set and array of tools. In other words, the ERP vendors that organizations are leaning on for advice are the same ones fueling the neglect of this critical success factor. This explains why ERP failure rates have been so consistently high in the industry. While it may not be intentional on their part, it does perpetuate the problem.
The bottom line is this: if you want your enterprise software implementation to be successful, don’t discount efficiency for activity. While updated technology is helpful, your organization’s people must be trained on how to use it or else it was pointless. Take the time to clearly define and communicate roles and responsibilities, identify specific business processes and how those changes will affect various workgroups and err on the side of over-communicating and over-training. The companies that do these things well are overwhelmingly more successful than their counterparts – regardless of specific ERP software, industry, company size or geography.
If you can’t or don’t want to invest the time and resources to make this commitment to organizational change management, it may be worth reconsidering whether or not you should be embarking on an ERP software initiative in the first place.
To learn more about how to improve your OCM strategy, register for our upcoming webinar, Five Key Organizational Change Management Challenges With ERP Implementations.