We’ve all been there. After hours of feverish work, you try to hit “Save” on your computer and nothing happens. Or it won’t export. Or it just freezes up. The stress of completing important tasks coupled with the stress of a computer (or ERP system) on the fritz can drive even the most zen among us to irrational degrees of fear and anger. In fact, a recent survey by Denver-based TrackVia (an organization that helps businesses build their own SaaS solutions) shows that three out of five workers who are not IT professionals or C-level executives have yelled at their computer screens. That’s not only an awful lot of rage directed towards an inanimate object but also an awful lot of rage to have to manage in the work place. Business owners and executives in the process of an ERP implementation would be well-served to take heed of this trend and employ the proper organizational change management tactics to protect against it. Three good ways to reduce this frustration include:
1. Creating direct communication and problem escalation channels. When Sally in accounting has an issue with her ERP software, she takes it straight to the top by calling the CIO. Joe in HR first asks around the office to see if anyone can help and then tries online ERP user forums. Executive assistant Harry sends a help request form to the IT department via e-mail and goes to lunch while he waits to hear back. While each of these approaches to an ERP problem may work (to a point) for the specific user, the variety shows that the organization has not set up or communicated to staff members a clear path from problem to solution. Users need to know that they can depend on an efficient system to help them when they experience ERP difficulties.
2. Encouraging your ERP users to give feedback . . . and then listening to it. A lot of companies take a hands-off approach to ERP system usability. Once the implementation and initial training is done, any forums for users to give feedback often dry up (if they ever existed in the first place). This can prove damaging to usability moving forward. A user who doesn’t feel that management cares about their difficulties with the system will often lose faith. This can be disastrous for morale and even benefits realization if the user begins to create inefficient workarounds outside of the ERP system to address problems in his or her own unique way. Reduce these risks by making that your employees know that their input is important and that their voices are being heard.
3. Explaining the goals and benefits the ERP system will help the company realize. Users who have a clear understanding of the overall purpose of the ERP system will begin to see their individual problems in a new context. Rather than feeling adrift alone, they will see their struggles as part of a valiant, company-wide effort to make things better. Don’t hide objectives of the implementation — shout them from the rooftops. Make sure everyone knows why this system was chosen, what it’s supposed to do, and what their role is in making it a success.
Companies often find organizational change management among the most baffling parts of an ERP implementation. Without two-way communication, it’s not just hard to understand what the users are experiencing but also hard to explain why they’re experiencing it, how it will be addressed and what the end goals of all this strife actually are. If you’re concerned about this aspect of your implementation, contact our independent ERP experts today or register for our upcoming webinar, Organizational Change Management: A Critical (and Often Overlooked) ERP Implementation Success Factor.