The “people” side of things tend to be forgotten when it comes to implementing new software. Yet, it’s the end users who will make or break the project. Change management efforts often fail during these implementations not because organisations don’t realise its importance, but because they go about it the wrong way. According to Technology Evaluation Centers, an IT services management company, nearly 50% of ERP projects fail the first time and go over budget by 65% as a result of post-project modifications.
Don’t be the company that contributes to this statistic. Follow our pointers for a successful implementation.
The key to a successful implementation is full management buy-in. If management is not engaged in the process, it will have a trickle-down effect and employees are likely to feed off the lack of vision and investment at a strategic level. The best way to rally the troops is to signal a united front.
It’s imperative that the implementation project involves all heads of departments, not just an IT or finance executive. Business heads will have different strategic views and a more intimate understanding of their business units – their individual input must be taken into account to ensure the change will benefit the entire business, not just an isolated part of it. Once the head of departments are on board they will be able to engage with the rest of their team to interpret what else the end users need from the software. Before going forward, these requirements must be discussed and understood and compared with the strategic objectives.
Bridging the gap
Too often, we find that there’s a mismatch between what management believes a business process entails and how it will be managed in the new system versus what happens in reality at the user/operational level. This misunderstanding must be identified, understood and removed to bring about a successful implementation.
Focus on the reasons
A change management process is not a task you mark as “completed” on a project manager’s board once you feel it’s been accomplished. It should be woven into the fabric of the company’s culture so it can be used effectively across all technological projects and business changes. Taking the time to develop a statement of core goals, objectives and intent is important to let the business know why something is being implemented and the positive impact it will have on the user and the business in the long run.
Typically, when your go-live phase begins, there is no time to accommodate anyone. This phase happens abruptly. You switch off an old ERP system and switch on a new one. Once it is on, there is no option for a “baby steps” approach to weaning staff off the old system. Training is now over and everyone has to get on with using the new system.
The go-live date is usually determined by company constraints such as avoiding implementing change during the fiscal year-end and implementing it during the quiet season. It would be foolish to delay the implementation because people aren’t ready, so it’s imperative that you do whatever is necessary to ensure that employees are well-prepared at the start of the go-live phase.
Before the go-live phase you could:
Provide support: Create a network of competent super-users who have had rigorous exposure to the system through testing and extra training activities.
Prepare a toolkit: Include a comprehensive list of new terms and definitions and a clear outline of the support mechanisms available to all employees.
Schedule meetings: This is the perfect place to raise issues and answer questions.
The face of an effective change management process
The perfect example is illustrated by our client Trefoil, a wholesale distributor of office, home and scholastic product consumables. The company handled its ERP software implementation by prioritising the project at a board level, allocating an internal project champion (the IT director) and appointing a resource that was responsible for bridging the gap between the board and the users. The implementation process was a great success because Trefoil wanted to drive ownership of the new system. The company CEO, Alan Robertson, understood that collaboration and adoption was a key factor.
Leading organisations shift their focus from handling a project-by-project application of change management towards institutionalising change management practices at the core. They are investing time, energy and resources to ensure success.
SynergERP accommodates each client by instituting an incremental implementation process. This means that we add features one at a time, not all at once. Companies are wary of changing their ERP systems, but there is no need to be fearful, we are here to guide you. Learn all about how we handle this delicate step in our ERP implementation checklist.