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Organizational change management has always been a pretty nebulous term. At best, it can be perceived as touchy feel-y. At worst, it can be viewed as an expendable nice-to-have that can be cut from a project at any given time.

Here are some of the common musings we hear from skeptical executives questioning the value of organizational change:

  • “Our people are ready for change, so we don’t need to worry about organizational change.”
  • We’re different – our people trust us and will follow us down this path without having to invest in organizational change.”
  • “Why should we even bother with organizational change when we haven’t even selected new ERP software

Of course, none of these observations could be further from the truth. The harsh reality is fairly simple: ERP implementations that underinvest in organizational change fail. Period. I have yet to see an exception to this rule, whether it be in my own experience implementing new ERP systems, cleaning up the failed implementations of others or testifying in dozens of ERP expert witness engagements over the years.
Don’t just take my word for it; most executives and project teams that recently finished their ERP initiatives also share this sentiment. As our 2016 ERP Report outlines, a very small portion of project teams feel that their process and organizational changes were easy.

In addition, organizational change and training issues together account for the number one reason(s) why ERP implementations take longer than expected. A full 17-percent of projects attribute their number one implementation challenge to their own organizational change and training issues.

So, what’s one to do when their boss and executive team resist the need for organizational change? (On a side note, this in and of itself is a form of resistance that further underscores the need for change management help, but that is a whole separate discussion for another time.) Here are a few ways to help get your management team on board with the need for organizational change:

1. Arm them with the facts. Use the above data to illustrate how important organizational change really is to success or failure. And, if that’s not enough, here is another interesting tidbit of information: nearly 50-percent of organizations have some sort of material operational disruption at the time of go live. Along with that, most of these disruptions are due to organizational change issues. The below graph shows the average length of operational disruption, which often gets the attention of executives.

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2. Explain what organizational change really means. Many executives think of self-help sessions where employees sing kumbaya or do other “soft” activities that have no measurable impact on the business. However, effective organizational change initiatives are very tangible and have quantifiable results on the business. For example, the below graphic illustrates some of the critical organizational change activates that Panorama has found to be critical to the success of most ERP software and digital transformation.

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3. Tailor your organizational change strategy to fit your corporate culture and strategy. Although the above graphic outlines a good starting point approach, the specifics of how it is executed should be tailored to fit your organization’s unique situation. A simple way to do this is to conduct an organizational assessment early in your project – ideally during the software evaluation and selection stage – to determine the most appropriate organizational change strategy. This will allow you and your executive team to better understand the organizational dynamics, sources of resistance to change and pockets of resistance within the organization so you can target your organizational change efforts.

These three things often work for our more jaded client executives that don’t believe in the people side of change. By arming your team with the facts and details of what organizational change management can and should mean to your particular initiative, they will be more likely to understand the importance and connect the dots between these activities and measurable business results.

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