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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 a successful enterprise software initiative. In fact, according to our 2014 ERP Report published earlier this year, organizational change management and training issues were cited as the largest contributor of project delays and budgetary overruns, according to those that had recently completed their ERP implementations.

Most people don’t have a clear understanding of what organizational 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. Even more concerning, most ERP consultants aren’t well-equipped to handle the complexities of organizational change management, as evidenced by the fact that most difficult ERP implementations involve consultants.

So how do you know if your team or consultant has the experience and skill set required to effectively address the organizational change management critical success factors? 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 an organizational change management methodology. It may be one-dimensional and myopically focused on software training, but it exists. However, not all organizational change methodologies are created equally. An effective approach will be structured, repeatable and address the various dimensions of organizational change – not just the more obvious ones (like training to use the ERP software). 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. Refer toPanorama’s PERFECT Change™ organizational change management methodology for examples of the types of processes and experience you should expect from your ERP consultant.

2.  How does your approach address the soft and hard sides of organizational change management? Organizational change management involves a spectrum of activities, ranging from more “touchy feely” activities, such as communication and leadership, to more tangible components, such as end-user training. An organizational change strategy will only be effective if it addresses both sides of the spectrum – and everything in between. On the one hand, your organizational change plan should include employee communications, stakeholder alignment, organizational readiness and other things that that may seem unrelated to ERP implementations on the surface, but still critical to their success. On the other hand, your organizational change plan should also include more tangible outputs, such as benefits realization, 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 overly focused on one side of the spectrum while neglecting the other.

3.  How does your organizational change management approach integrate with the more technical aspects of the ERP implementation? Organizational change management executed in a silo is just as ineffective as no change management at all, so it is critical that your organizational change plan integrate into the overall ERP implementation project plan. For example, during the technical design or blueprint stage of the project, your organizational change team should be focused 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 ways to look for the organizational change approach to integrate with the overall implementation strategy and plan. Panorama’s proprietary PERFECT Change™ 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 organizational change management consultant to help ensure that 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 outside skill sets, methodologies and experience base.

Learn more about organizational change management by checking out our PERFECT Change™ methodology.

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