Large ERP and IT projects can be exciting: they can provide new technologies, new business processes, and endless possibilities to organizations that implement them. However, implementing the technologies and overcoming some of the organization’s political obstacles can be another story.

Large ERP projects often entail some sort of standardization of operations and business processes across multiple departments and geographies, especially if it is being used as a tool to improve efficiencies. However, managers and employees may have spent many years performing processes in their own unique ways. Therefore, they often feel that standardization takes away their sense of pride in the way they have always done things.

Large-scale, international ERP or IT implementations are the most likely to see these types of political challenges. One of our recent posts addressed the cultural and organizational change management issues associated with international IT implementations.

So what can a manager or executive do to address these politics and resistance to change?

Steps to Overcome the ERP Politics

  1. Involve a broad geographic and functional cross-section in the planning, process improvement, and implementation activities. This will help employees feel a sense of pride and ownerhip in the project.
  2. Over-communicate. Project managers should make the extra effort to communicate why the project is important to the company and how business changes will help employees. In short, employees need to understand the “what’s in it for me?” aspects of the project, as well as “what’s in it for the company?”
  3. Understand and acknowledge local requirements. Even if local needs are going to be overriden by global standardization, the project team should have a strong understanding of the local needs. This helps employees across the globe feel as though they are being heard. It also helps the project team understand the impacts that the new, post-ERP environment will have on the organization.
  4. Establish performance measures to drive accountability. Measuring and rewarding managers in areas that will be enhanced by the ERP or IT implementation is a great way to ensure they collaborate with other geographies and functions to make decisions that are best for the company. This should be part of a larger performance measurement and IT Benefits Realization strategy.

These are just a few steps that help address the politics of ERP. It is one more reason why large IT projects should not underestimate the importance of organizational change management as part of their ERP project planning efforts.

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