In most situations, creativity is pretty great. In the midst of a high-stress ERP implementations, however, creativity is probably the last thing the C-level wants to see in the end-user community. But look at it from a typical user’s point of view: when no one is listening to you, the last thing you want to do is continue asking questions. You probably become distressed from a lack of direction and eventually start doing things your own creative way.

ERP software is meant to achieve particular goals, whether it’s increasing profit or achieving greater efficiencies. But the sad fact is that no matter how expensive or complicated the software is, the business simply will not accelerate if there is no determined, unified strategy on the most efficient way to accomplish tasks. And that strategy must seek to minimize any system usage “creativity” from the very beginning of implementation.

The best way to ensure new software is being utilized properly is not only to train employees but also to develop and implement a communications plan as part of the company’s organizational change management activities.

A lack of two-way communication throughout the entire ERP project could result in resistance to the new system as employees struggle to get their questions answered. The more questions project leaders are able to address, the more attractive structure will appear in comparison to guesswork and creativity.

Some of the most common questions employees have include:

  • How will business processes and day-to-day jobs change?
  • What is the current status of the project?
  • When can we expect to be trained?
  • When will we be expected to convert to the new system?
  • What tools will we have at our disposal if we have problems or questions?
  • Why was this system was chosen, what is it supposed to do and what is our role is in making it a success?
  • Will there be layoffs?
  • What’s in it for me?

Common questions executives may have, in addition to the concerns above, include:

  • What are the major risks and risk mitigation plans?
  • Where do we stand on budget vs. actual?
  • What are the benefits we’ll stand to receive from the ERP system and how will we measure them?

According to The 2012 ERP Report, 29-percent of respondents stated they did not have top-level management commitment during their implementation. Executive commitment is especially critical since negative opinions are likely to trickle down to lower-level employees. Complaints from lower-level employees can also spread surprisingly quickly.

It all comes down to who is communicating most – that’s what will stick in employee’s minds. A multitude of positive, helpful and informative messages  have potential to consume the grapevine of negativity created by casual communication among employees.

Organizational change management focuses on many different factors, but each of these factors hinges on the quality of your communication. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bulletin board or website with project updates. Sometimes it’s more elaborate.

However you communicate, aim for consistency and regularity. When you listen and respond to questions and complaints on a regular basis, you will be surprised how open employees will be to change. They will be eager to learn, and they may actually come to embrace structure and predictability when they see how it helps the organization overall.

Read more about organizational change management and employee communication by visiting our Organizational Change Management page. Also, be sure to search for “employee communications” in our blog.

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