ERP implementations can be momentously unsettling to executives, employees and end-users who feel that a new ERP system is intrusive, unnecessary and inconvenient to their usual business processes. In frustration, end-users can intentionally or unintentionally undermine an ERP project by spreading negativity, adhering to time-consuming workarounds or simply refusing to learn how to use the new ERP system.
But don’t lose hope. The issues above can be prevented in one simple way: communication. Communication is the cornerstone of every successful company (and every successful organizational change management initiative) and the key to preventing ERP failure. Since modern technology allows more creative, dynamic communication than has ever been possible, there is no longer any excuse for sending dry memos from upper management, issuing large instruction binders or delivering boring speeches. This type of communication does little to foster dialogue between employees and executives.
Executives need to show their employees that they are listening to their concerns because they need their buy-in and feedback to make both the ERP implementation and the organization on a whole successful. Employee communication should be creative and consistent and should resemble many of the aspects present in PR campaigns.
Following are some brief tips on how to bring PR principles into your organizational change management (OCM) plan:
- Ask for employee opinions about how they anticipate the new ERP system will affect the company and their jobs. Be sure to listen to employee needs and be honest about what the ERP system will and won’t address. Use the information you hear to tailor your OCM campaign for maximum efficacy.
- Embrace new communication tools and new technology in order to encourage dialogue and sharing of ideas. Consider building an intranet or private micro-site where employees can get the latest information about the status of the ERP project. There are many free and low-cost services to help companies build internal relationships and share information.
- Public relations campaigns often suggest the importance of “key opinion leaders.” Identify and engage with employees who have natural influence over others and make sure they know and can articulate the driving need for – and coming benefits of – the ERP system. As advocates, these opinion leaders can leverage their personal or professional credibility to convince colleagues of the importance of the ERP project.
Absorbing the wisdom of public relations is a great way to improve your OCM initiative. Our independent ERP consultants tackle every project with a solid understanding of internal PR, marketing and social networking. Be sure to read about the full gamut of OCM services Panorama offers on our organizational change management page. You can also view some of our OCM webinars by visiting our On-Demand Webinar page.