So you’re about to become an ERP owner. Sometimes you’re eager to get started, and other times, you’d rather run far, far away! To conquer that fear, we’ll cover the basics of ERP change management so that you can prepare yourself and your team for implementation. We know that change can be overwhelming at times, but having a strong system that will last is a journey worth taking.
People ask us all the time, “How do you manage change?” At Silverware, we like to say that if you manage your people and their expectations, they will manage the change. If your people understand the benefits, help create the process, and approve its execution, they will work to make the change happen. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to facilitate the smoothest implementation possible:
Start with an engaged employee base
While you can’t expect all your employees to get excited about ERP, their engagement is key for a smooth implementation. Getting the right buy-in from your staff works wonders in the long-term and will get you through many unexpected moments. You want your employees to know that this change, while it may mean more work upfront, will yield higher efficiency and makes their jobs easier.
How will you convince them of this? Know your staff and know what matters to them. Target some of the most painful parts of their job and communicate how the upcoming implementation will address it.
Be honest about the level of effort required
The more data you want for insights, the more entry that means for someone else. For every trend evaluated at the executive level, there are typically multiple data points captured and/or entered by your staff. Tell them openly about your expectations for their role in the implementation and how it may affect their current workload. Doing this upfront builds a dialogue with your people so that they can ask for what they need when they need it. Secondly, be honest with yourself. How much time are you willing and able to commit to this process? Are your expectations truly in line with those of your team? Are your goals known and achievable in the time and budget provided? If there’s a need-to-have on your list, is it really worth the effort or expense required? If you’re asking, “How will I know what’s worth it?” Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
Communicate the tradeoffs to your consultants
Your consultant’s knowledge as they guide you through these tradeoffs is the key to their value. ERP is designed to work across industries and business methodologies and therefore implementations of the same package may vary wildly from one company to the next. Understanding your business’s current AND future needs must be the focus of your partner to ensure the proper path is taken.
The best consultants will give you a well thought out recommendation that accounts for your tradeoffs, plus some others you did not expect. Sometimes a big impact can be achieved through a small change that requires less time and effort to implement. For those of you who doubt consultants would never sell you on the more cost-effective change, check their references. Consultants that believe in long-term relationships are the ones who have a history of doing this for other clients. Never be afraid to ask for a reference list when choosing a software partner so you can get the people who are right for you.
Show employees the beef
What are your employees really getting out of it? They might just see high spend and extra work on top of their day jobs. Therefore, it’s important to show them, not just tell them, what they’re working for. Here are a couple of practical tips to engage them in this process:
- Involve them in the process design of the solution. Not only will this make them feel they are a valued and integral part of choices being made, but also that their specific needs are being addressed. Problems are cheapest to fix the earlier you know about them. Now is the perfect time to get hidden issues out in the open. It’s important to know as much as you can going in so precious dollars are spent implementing the best possible solution. Scheduling routine updates with your team for brainstorming and tradeoff evaluation could save you thousands of dollars.
- Have your consultant demo the proposed process to your people. This is a clear way of showing what will happen once the change has been made. Allowing employees to give input at this stage maximizes the impact of the solution.
Once the process is created, make sure the right people are in the room, then test until you’ve gotten approval from the entire team. Without this key step, you could end up building something that’s inefficient to use or provides incomplete or inaccurate data. Instead of letting a poor solution incentivize short cuts and lower data quality, validate until it’s right. This will save you time, money, and talent in the long run.
Still not excited about ERP change management yet?
Not everyone wakes up excited to tend to their ERP system, but they are relieved when their job gets easier. They are more relaxed when they can do more in the time they have. They are grateful when the numbers are right. They feel more fulfilled when they can make smarter decisions because they have the right information. Staying focused on better outcomes is a great way to keep your people motivated during an implementation. ERP change management requires upfront communication, deep discussions of tradeoffs, and collaborative design/validation. The path of a new ERP owner is rarely smooth, but if you have an engaged team behind you, then you’re more certain to implement something you can be proud of for years to come.
For more advice on planning your ERP implementation, set up a time chat with us at email@example.com.
Dan Milani is the Silverware Practice Manager for Dynamics 365. He enjoys trail-running in Arizona and spending time with his golden retriever, Molly.
Learn more about the Silverware Team here.