Panorama Consulting has been a high-growth company since President Eric Kimberling first opened the doors seven years ago. In 2011, Panorama joined The Prescott Group and successfully integrated a corporate restructure that included bringing on new members to its leadership team and expanding service offerings. And like many high-growth companies, PCS started feeling the pinch of an operations framework that couldn’t keep up. Excel spreadsheet, anyone? It soon became clear that the ERP consultants needed a new ERP system themselves.

We knew the drill.

We followed our own proven ERP software selection methodology that began with identifying our business practices and future needs. After careful review of several impressive systems, we chose a best of breed solution that would provide greater insight into our consulting practice, and integrate our in-house operations seamlessly. Our phased communication and training plan included a combination of vendor and in-house multi-media instruction and hands-on practice in a planning environment.  The ROI metrics were evident from the input of the very first project.

We live and breathe our espoused principles on a daily basis. So why did I find myself on the phone talking one of our ERP consultants down from the ledge?

Business begins with people.

ERP systems are designed to support a corporate offering, to enhance the ability of a company to maximize the impact of their industry differentiators and to enable sustainable growth. We stress that a successful ERP implementation begins with the fundamental understanding that the software must fit the business . . . and business begins with people.

In this case, the consultant was absolutely sold on the value of the new system. She was enthusiastic and optimistic in regards to the benefits to be reaped both personally and at the corporate level. But when the system inexplicably blocked her input and she viewed data that made no sense, frustration set in quickly. Another factor of her distress was the fact that she was working remotely and we had a hard initial deadline for financial input. Where other employees could call me over to their desks for some brief guidance, she was trying to sort out her confusion independently – and it wasn’t working. Once we sorted out the issues together, her unease immediately abated and her buy-in returned. The hope is that when the next “crisis” arises — as it inevitably will — she’ll have enough confidence both in the ERP system and the in-house support structure to avoid panic.

Training must be an on-going process.

In the last days before going live, the implementation team put our new system through the ringer. As we uncovered real and perceived kinks in the system, (and bonded with our ERP vendor’s training personnel), we developed and documented strategies for consistency and success moving forward. So thankfully, we were prepared and able to reassure the consultant and sort out her issues easily.

Adult education is predicated on the understanding that adults learn best when their learning is experiential. Working in a production environment on real projects definitely provided further opportunities for learning both for our consultants and our implementation team. In our experience, anytime users can train with “real data,” their comprehension rises exponentially.

As we all know, learning anything new takes time. The point is to keep the training and support going until (and even after) end-users feel absolutely comfortable in the system. For more organizational change management tips to increase user buy-in, download A Guide to Increasing User Acceptance of ERP Systems in our resource center.

Written by Laura Florence, Senior ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

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