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Most CIOs, project managers and consultants who have been through ERP implementations will tell you that organizational change management is one of the most challenging aspects of an ERP implementation. Most people don’t have a clear understanding of what change management means. It’s a fairly nebulous term, especially if you’re not properly trained or don’t have the breadth of experience required to be effective in this discipline.

Most ERP consultants aren’t well-equipped to handle the complexities of change management. How do you know if your ERP consultant has the experience and skillset to address change management? Here are three questions to ask when trying to identify the best organizational change management consultant for your ERP project:

1.  What is your organizational change management methodology? Every ERP consultant will tell you that they have a change management methodology. It may be one-dimensional and myopically focused on software training, but it exists. However, not all change methodologies are created equally. An effective approach is structured, repeatable and addresses the various dimensions of organizational change – not just the more obvious ones, like ERP training. Look for steps in the process that will address organizational readiness, change impacts on employees, stakeholder alignment, communications and other key components required for a successful implementation.

2.  How does your approach address the soft and hard sides of organizational change management? Organizational change management involves a spectrum of activities, from communication and leadership, to more tangible components like end-user training. A change management strategy will only be effective if it addresses both sides of the spectrum – and everything in between. On one hand, your change management plan should include employee communication, stakeholder alignment, organizational readiness and other aspects that that may seem unrelated to ERP implementations on the surface, but still critical to their success. On the other hand, your change management plan should include more tangible inputs, such as a benefits realization plan, skills assessments and other easier-to measure tactics. You will often find that among the consultants that do have decent expertise in organizational change management, most tend to be focused on one side of the spectrum while neglecting the other.

3.  How does your organizational change management approach integrate with the technical aspects of ERP implementation? Change management executed in a silo is just as ineffective as no change management at all, so it is critical that your change management plan integrate into the overall ERP implementation project plan. For example, during the technical design or blueprint stage of the project, your change management team should focus on identifying the gaps between the “to-be” and “as-is” business processes so they can craft targeted communications regarding the changes for each affected workgroup. Another example: one of the organizational readiness assessments conducted shortly before go-live should serve as a key input into the go/no-go decision of the overall go-live. These are just two examples of how change management can integrate with the overall implementation strategy and plan. Panorama’s change management approach is designed to integrate with the technical components of leading ERP implementation methodologies used by SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor and others.

There are several more questions that you should ask when seeking out a potential change management consultant to ensure the people side of your implementation is not overlooked. This is hands-down the most important aspect of an ERP implementation, so it is critical that you have the right skillsets, methodologies and experience.