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People can make projects much more complicated if they don’t know what to expect. But, honestly, can you blame them? Most people are programmed to fear change at some level and that definitely does not change when it comes to ERP implementations. People-related issues are frequently the most difficult aspects of an ERP implementation. Software and other technical-related issues typically pale in comparison to the challenges associated with employee adoption.

To further complicate things, most ERP consultants and implementing organizations don’t know a whole lot about how to address these complexities. With the right approach and guidance, you and your team will be able to effectively navigate these challenges.
Here are the best five strategies for ERP training and employee adoption:

  1. Start with business processes. Many ERP vendors will tell you that your business processes don’t matter because their software will direct you on how to run your business. This is not true. Today’s ERP systems are too flexible and robust to assume that their software will provide the answers to your business processes. You still need to define your overall business processes and workflows, as well as identify business process reengineering opportunities. The software will fill in the blanks on the details of exactly how those processes will be performed, but software functionality is no surrogate for taking the time to map out your processes. Only then can you help migrate your employees from the as-is state to the future state.
  1. Identify change impacts to those new business processes. Once future state business processes have been defined, it is important to highlight the gaps between the as-is and the to-be processes for each major workgroup in your organization. This will help employees connect the dots between the way things work now and how they will work in the future. For example, what is Suzy from accounting going to do now that you are planning to replace her favorite Excel spreadsheet with a new ERP system? She needs to understand how the new system will affect her job roles and responsibilities prior to adopting the new system and processes.
  1. Begin training well before end-user training. There is a common – and severely flawed – assumption in the industry that end-user training a few weeks before go-live will be enough to get employees comfortable with change. This one faulty assumption can undermine your overall enterprise software initiative more than most, so it is important to get it right. Instead, employees should receive multiple rounds of business process and organizational role and responsibility training well before they are trained on the new system. End-user training should simply reinforce the specifics of what they already know, understand and embrace about their new system rather than serve as the main focus of organizational change management.
  1. Always assume that you have underinvested in organizational change management and training. I have yet to be involved with a project where we over communicated or spent too much time on organizational change management. Some change initiatives are certainly better than others, but I don’t know that there is such a thing as investing too much time or money on employee adoption. Rather than evaluating ways to save budgetary dollars by cutting organizational change activities, you will be much better served by looking for ways to invest more in your people initiatives. This will actually decrease your overall costs and increase your ROI in the long-term.
  1. Ensure your executive and management team is on board. Nothing much matters if your executive management team is not on board – your project will fail without it. It is vital that your organizational change team works hard to ensure that management understands the time commitments to make the project successful, helps provide necessary resources to the project and makes strategic decisions in a timely matter. An effective organizational change management plan should incorporate this important aspect.

Yes. Change can be scary. The unknown always leaves a sour taste, but you can combat that feeling by investing in organizational change management. Believe me when I say, you won’t regret it.

Learn all about ensuring employee adoption by tuning into tomorrow’s webinar, An Effective Organizational Change Management Approach.

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