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During every ERP implementation Panorama has ever been involved with, we have emphasized to our client that organizational change management is fundamental to benefits realization and ROI. As is shown in our 2011 Guide to ERP Systems and Vendors,  and as we have experienced time and again, duration and cost overflows can often directly be attributed to unanticipated organizational issues, underestimations of staffing needs and/or training issues. But what our surveys don’t dig deeply into is just what the “organizational” and “training” issues are that can so derail an ERP implementation. Sure, there are the obvious suspects: employees just don’t get the new system, training isn’t adequate, software adoption falls low on the priority list, and so on. But all of that can be corrected with time. What can’t be corrected with just time? The presence of a saboteur within your organization.

In Frank LaFasto’s and Carl Larson’s bestselling book, When Teams Work Best, the authors posit that there are people within organizations who, despite appearance, will not ever collaborate or embrace change. They explain:

“Most of [these employees’] time and effort is directed toward securing their position in the organization structure. They want to perform their job or manage their function effectively, and they will do it in a way that provides stability for them even if the consequences are disastrous for others and decrease the likelihood of the whole organization achieving its goal.”

This is the employee who nods about the importance of the new ERP software and then creates costly and inefficient work-arounds to avoid learning it. This is the employee who gossips about the organization’s ineptitude in choosing the software, its foolishness in spending money on the project, and its high chances of failure. This is the employee who shrewdly works to undermine every aspect of the implementation out of fear that they will be left behind. And that fear, and the demoralization it can create, is highly contagious and must be addressed as part of any good organizational change program.

Have you had experience managing an employee like this (either in an ERP implementation or just in general)? Did you fire him or her or try to divert extra resources to achieve his or her buy-in? What happened? Let us know in the comments.

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