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You might not know it, but the human resources professionals that you employ might be some key contributors to your ERP project. Often overlooked and sometimes underutilized in ERP implementations, these resources can provide a unique perspective and hands-on help.

While some may think of HR resources as paper-pushers and recruiting resources, many in this field are highly trained professionals familiar with emergent strategies that can be “team smart” talent.

Environmental scanning – internally and externally

A good HR professional understands and keeps abreast of both threats and opportunities. They are aware of relevant competitive data, and as good relationship builders, may even have insights into what makes your competition successful. It’s not unusual for HR resources from competing companies to network with each other while recruiting or placing employees. They can talk about the world in which your company operates, as well as the changing strategies of your industry. Therefore, it might be a promising idea to get them involved in your ERP strategic planning, not only for their knowledge but also for their ability to tap into internal and external opinions.

Back it up

HR professionals are trained to obtain and allocate resources. An ERP project is all about resources, and typically there are not enough to go around. Most successful ERP initiatives require some degree of backfilling. Your HR person understands this and can help you to find and justify these resources. If you didn’t think involving your HR person was important before, maybe you will now. Most ERP projects often run into cost overruns (sometimes with good reason) and guess what often gets cut? Backfilling. A talented HR person will construct a readiness assessment which will not only highlight, but support the importance of backfilling while helping quantify the costs.

Show and tell

In a general sense, HR understands the jobs, roles and functions within your company. HR has their ear to the ground and will often know the likes, dislikes and roadblocks that employees encounter. The root cause of a stressed-out employee, or a department with high turnover, might possibly involve the processes and technology they must work with on a day to day basis. An essential part of preparing for an ERP project is process mapping. HR professionals can be of major help in defining your current state which you need to know before you forge ahead. They might be helpful identifying your pain points and process that are redundant or not working efficiently. On top of that, your HR people are more likely to include all stakeholders as to not miss pertinent information or steps. If they are trained in Six Sigma or Lean (as some are) all the better. If not, have your HR resource partner with an inside our external resource that is.

Rally the troops

Any major IT initiative points to change, the problem is most employees don’t like change. For acceptance to occur during an ERP project, there must be an organizational change management plan. Without one, you will encounter resistance, rumors and distractions which can impede the success of your initiative. Employees fear job loss when they hear about new systems. Most companies are looking for efficiencies that can help the company grow and/or reduce costs. You must make this clear to your employees, very early on, and keep reinforcing the goals of the project. This means listening to and communicating with employees on a regular basis. Your HR professional can be of great assistance with this. A best practice is to also bring in an independent party or consultant to get a “deep dive” on what employees are really thinking.

Not involving your HR professionals in your ERP plan is a missed opportunity. Along with helping gather strategic information for the project as key team members, they can be purveyors of transparency at a time when the organization needs critical cooperation and buy-in from employees and management.

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