You only have 30 minutes to compile a report for your boss. On your desktop you see two options: a dashboard for your organization’s ERP system and . . . a little icon for Microsoft Excel. Which one do you choose? Your answer to this question primarily depends on how comfortable you are using your organization’s ERP software.

While no employee is immune to the ERP learning curve, workarounds should be discouraged whenever possible – even at the beginning of an ERP implementation. There are a number of ways organizations can help employees feel comfortable using ERP software, no matter how foreign it may initially be.

When an employee is not adequately trained on how to use new ERP software, they will often turn to Excel spreadsheets and other familiar workarounds that are quicker and easier to use. Workarounds are also prevalent in organizations that do not adequately define and document business processes. If processes are not defined before implementation, the system may not be configured to meet all of the organization’s needs and employees will find other ways of meeting these needs outside of the system.

Following are several ways organizations can overcome ERP system workarounds:

1.   Communicate with and train employees – In addition to holding group training sessions, organizations should work one-on-one with employees to show them how to use the ERP system and identify who they should come to with questions.

2.   Define current and future state business processes – The ERP project team should work with employees to document business processes and ensure that software functionality is aligned with business requirements.

3.   Seek executive buy-in – The executive team should understand the importance of the implementation and the benefits it will bring to the organization. Once executives are on board, they will have more incentive to allocate sufficient time, money and resources to the ERP training and organizational change management necessary to overcome resistance and achieve results.

4.   Conduct an ERP system usage audit – Use pre-defined KPIs to track system usage and identify risk areas such as strong change resistance among employees. Determine and communicate accountability for poor system usage, so that the organization is aligned around the importance of the initiative.

While ERP software is meant to integrate and centralize data, workarounds have the opposite effect – they decrease productivity and create silos of data that undermine the goals of your ERP project. Do what you can to identify and discourage workarounds during every stage of implementation.

To learn more, download Chapter Six of An Expert’s Guide to ERP Success.

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