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10 Essentials for ERP Change Management

By Jay Epperson

ERP Change Management Checklist

ERP Change Management Checklist 

Year after year, studies find that the leading cause of ERP failure isn’t poor software selection, data conversion or programming errors. In fact, software implementation pitfalls often have little to do with the software itself. The number one cause of project failure is change management—or lack thereof.  

Change management is integral to helping employees prepare for new software. Accustomed to their current routines and applications, employees are likely to resist change. Change management is intended to smooth over the transition and encourage user adoption, so your ERP investment doesn’t go to waste. 

However, Panorama’s 2019 ERP Report finds that businesses continue to forgo change management during their implementations.  According to the study, only 18% have an intense focus on change management, while 32% have very little or no focus on change management. That means users aren’t fully prepared to work with their new software once the go-live date arrives.  

Never underestimate the value of change management. Follow our change management checklist to avoid ERP failure.  

Methodology 

A strong ERP implementation methodology doesn’t leave any stone unturned. However, most organizations leave a large hole in their methodology by ignoring change management. Change management should never be an afterthought; it should be fully planned out to improve user adoption 

The ADKAR model can help you put together a change management strategy: 

  • Awareness: Help employees understand the reason for change. 
  • Desire: Instill desire for employees to support the change. 
  • Knowledge: Acquire knowledge to determine what it will take to implement your software and enforce user adoption. 
  • Ability: Determine the skills employees currently have or will need to develop to adopt the software. 
  • Reinforcement: Keep users engaged with the new software and prevent them from falling back on old strategies and technology. 

To get the most value from your ERP, your change management methodology should hit each of these points. 

Communication 

Nobody likes when a big change is sprung on them without any forewarning. That’s why it’s critical to communicate effectively with future end users throughout the ERP project. From the beginning, gain employees’ input on current pain points and project concerns. Additionally, explain how the software implementation will benefit not just the whole company but each user. Keep employees updated on the project’s status. 

There isn’t one method of communication appropriate for every organization, or even for every user. Reaching out to your entire business might require multiple channels, such as meetings, e-newsletters or Q&A forums, but remember that the most effective way to get in touch with employees is through good, old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Don’t be afraid of repetition; sharing information multiple times helps the message stick.  

Manager Involvement 

Who will be the people communicating with future ERP users? This responsibility should mostly fall on managers and supervisors. Since they have an established rapport with their team, they’ll be able to successfully convey the purpose of the software and its impact on users in their departments. Make sure managers understand the ERP system, so they can streamline communication within the organization. 

Change Agent 

If managers should be communicating with users under their supervision, who is communicating with the managers to help them get acquainted with the new solution? This is just one of the duties of the change agent. As the name suggests, your change agent will promote and support change within your organization. This person (or team) acts as the liaison between project leaders and employees to ensure everyone is informed of the implementation’s goals and company feedback as well as encourage enthusiasm for the new software. 

The role of change agent should go to someone with a strong understanding of your business culture and good people skills. Whether you assign the role to someone internally or to a consultant, the change agent should champion the project and help people across your enterprise embrace your ERP solution.  

Power User 

Power users, or super users, also serve critical roles in change management. They will have a deep, comprehensive understanding of your ERP software. With this knowledge, they can assist other users having trouble with their systems. Shortly after go live, make sure a few power users are on hand to address issues from other employees and ensure a smooth onboarding.  

Training Strategy 

Though training serves as a crucial component of change management strategies, it’s not always appropriately executed. Everyone has different learning preferences and will need to use different ERP functions. Therefore, provide multiple training sessions to support various learning methods and instruct users on relevant features.  

Keep in mind that new software often comes with process changes. Users will not only need to learn the system but also become familiar with new practices and ditch old habits. Role-based training allows your organization to coach users on specific activities.  

Executive Sponsorship 

No matter how good your training strategy is, you’ll have trouble gaining user buy-in without executive buy-in. In events of enterprise-wide change, employees look to the C-Suite to learn the reasons for the change and how it will be implemented. When executives visibly embrace the ERP project and support change management initiatives, they build momentum and excitement for the new software.  

Metrics 

In our increasingly data-driven workplace, metrics are at the center of everything, including change management. Track the right KPIs to measure the impact of your change management strategies as well as your ERP implementation.  

These metrics should reflect the priorities of your software project. For example, if issues with product quality motivated your decision to invest in ERP, track returns, defects and other quality metrics. If the numbers aren’t where you expected them to be, there may be an issue with how the software is being used, or with the software itself. Data gives you the insight to continue improving software usage and work on creating greater change management strategies in the future.  

Resources 

Where will your users go when they have an issue with their ERP system? While some problems can only be solved by technical or vendor support, others can be quickly addressed by users. Equip users with the tools and resources to learn more about their ERP or solve simple problems.  

Many vendors, such as Epicor, provide manuals, learning portals and video demos to educate users on basic functionality. Consultants have similar resources. Datix’s ERP demos website offers several videos that cover a wide range of Epicor features.  These tools encourage users to educate themselves to fully utilize ERP functionality.

Consultants 

Software consultants can supply your business with more than demo videos. Consultants have experience handling a variety of ERP projects, giving them the skills to refine your change management strategies and adhere to best practices. From providing on-site training to serving as change agents, these ERP experts are there to help you achieve widespread user adoption.  

Wrap Up 

ERP success takes more than technical skills or finding the right software. Without getting users and business leaders on board, your ERP system can’t contribute value to your enterprise. Change management is the key to encouraging user adoption and maximizing software ROI. 

Datix knows just how important it is to develop change management strategies. For over 20 years, we’ve helped countless manufacturers and distributors implement their software through careful change management and ERP best practices. Our commitment to excellence has made us an Epicor Gold Partner. As one of the largest Epicor partners in North America, we’re able to provide a large array of services and solutions to execute your ERP project from start to finish.  

Make sure there are no holes in your ERP implementation strategy. Contact Datix today, and let our ERP experts guide you to business transformation! 

CONTACT AN EXPERT AT DATIX TODAY!

Tags: change management, Epicor® ERP, epicor partner, ERP implementation, ERP training, super user, erp consulting, erp failure, kpis, erp change agents, software demo, c-suite, user adoption, erp expert

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