Global Change Management Strategies
Organizational change management (OCM) doesn’t get much attention during ERP projects. It’s usually regarded as fluff. After all, if the enterprise software is supposed to offer so many benefits, then shouldn’t the project team just worry about getting the implementation executed correctly, and users will adapt quickly?
But what these businesses don’t realize—until they’ve lost huge sums of money—is that an OCM strategy is essential to generating value from their software investment. Manufacturing and distribution operations tend to rely on standardized outcomes and limited variations, meaning that employees are customized to routine. Therefore, a software implementation can radically shake their environments, resulting in resentment and poor utilization from end users.
Change management is integral for businesses of all sizes, but for global enterprises, initiating OCM strategies involves extra challenges, such as cultural gaps and communication difficulties. With experience managing ERP projects across multiple continents, our consultants have learned some tricks for creating change management strategies across international locations. Below, we distill some of this knowledge to help you achieve global user adoption.
Gaining executive buy-in is critical for ERP projects regardless of your business size. The C-Suite delegates financial support while also serving as an advocate for the implementation throughout your organization. But with multi-site implementations, you must get this buy-in from executives and stakeholders in each location. Many enterprises make the mistake of developing change initiatives at the global headquarters without input from other sites. This makes global locations hesitant to embrace the project and puts the entire investment at risk.
In accordance with OCM best practices, work to rally buy-in from executives and stakeholders across each location. Make them a key part of the decision-making and change management process. They’ll know how to drive support within their individual locations and ensure that all the implementation and adoption steps are followed through.
Even in SMBs, clear communication during a software project can be difficult to maintain. Global, multi-site corporations face even greater communication barriers. Every location will inevitably have different communication preferences, influenced by cultural norms and leadership. As you strive for buy-in and support from worldwide executives and users, you’ll have to create a careful plan to communicate appropriately across various locations.
You want to facilitate visibility and input throughout the project, but don’t think you can achieve this by speaking to everyone through the same channels or methods. German businesses, for example, tend to value direct communication, making vagaries a major deterrent in conversations. Brazilian companies, on the other hand, are usually more open to change and flexible guidelines. Some executives will want frequent, in-person communication, while others are fine with conducting all conversations through emails. Nail down these details to avoid offending your international colleagues and discouraging them from project participation.
The biggest thing to remember is that no matter the size of your business, there’s no such thing as too much communication when it comes to change management. People are likely to forget key responsibilities or become confused since the software implementation process is outside their typical duties. Frequent, clear communication is a must for ensuring your business makes the most of its software and optimizes processes.
End User Involvement
Each location must also foster communication and participation among end users to encourage wide-spread software adoption. To do this, assign super users across your locations. These people will serve as model users of the ERP system and help employees understand system functionality. They’ll translate technical terminology into understandable information for users and address concerns to avoid swamping IT teams with questions.
Additionally, training needs to be implemented to teach users how to take advantage of the new ERP functionality. A cookie-cutter training session won’t work; sessions and resources must be relevant to each user. For example, make sure accountants have a robust understanding of the financial management module, while shop floor managers know the ins and outs of production planning tools.
Furthermore, training should adhere to the communication style that works for various locations. Keep the lines of communication open to ensure that all locations are successfully implementing change management strategies while also providing autonomy to separate sites to find out the methods that work best for their users.
The bigger your organization, the bigger the responsibility to implement a strong OCM plan. But businesses tend to take short cuts in change management because they’re overwhelmed by all the other obligations that come with a global software project. That’s why it’s integral to hire experienced software consultants who know the tricks of the trade.
The role of software consulting firms is to follow best practices to ensure the completion of ERP projects—one of those practices being change management. They’ll guide your implementation, taking a major load off your IT department and project team. These experts will also give you tips and proven strategies to accelerate user adoption and provide on-site training to give users hands-on instruction. To track software usage, they’ll help you establish the right metrics throughout your locations. This will allow you to see which departments and sites are thriving on the new platform and detect where there still needs to be improvement. By contributing their expertise, consulting firms mitigate project risk across your enterprise.
Large, global enterprises require robust ERP systems more than anyone else, but the multiple locations and cultures that make up their business add extra challenges to the implementation. That’s why you should team up with consultants to instill the right communication and training methods to ensure widespread user adoption.
With over 20 years of providing manufacturing and distribution solutions, Datix is the premier source for all your software needs. An Epicor Platinum Partner, we understand the ERP functionality required for businesses large and small. We’ve worked with businesses across several continents, using our proven methodology to facilitate communication and change management throughout every project. From start to finish, we provide the best software solutions to advance your enterprise’s success.
To get your global software project underway, reach out to the premier consultants at Datix today!