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How to Prepare Your Team for an ERP Project

Three key strategies for change management
Amy Paterson
By Amy Paterson, 25 February 2020
How to Prepare Your Team for an ERP Project

Change is continuously occurring in your business.

It can be both exciting and daunting, but how you prepare for it is always important.

Moving to a new ERP system is no small feat. It is one of the larger projects that a business will face, but once in place can last a lifetime. One of the most crucial aspects to address during this time is your team. Your team is the end user after all, and naturally, they will be opposed to change – it’s only human nature!

Your workforce is directly impacted by changes to an ERP system, so you need to make sure they are on board with the new plans as well as achieving a positive mindset. This is where change management comes in.

 

What is Change Management?

Change management is a structured approach in preparing, equipping and supporting your organisation and its individuals to successfully adopt change in the future. In this blog we will discuss the strategies around managing your workforce during an ERP project.

 

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

In order to achieve success amongst change, you must develop a Strategic Workforce Plan as the ERP project starts. A plan will ensure that you are aware of how you need to organise your team in order to achieve the best results during the ERP implementation. A Strategic Plan allows your business to assess opportunity and risk in order to plan for cultural changes and mitigate risk.

Try to focus on assessing current skills, abilities, experiences and capabilities within the team. From this information you can determine how the project may impact different departments and individuals.

A secondary step is to identify and evaluate the attitudes of the individuals that are most resistant to change. Ask yourself:

  • Who are the resisting individuals and/or groups?
  • What are their needs?
  • What beliefs and values do they have?
  • What are their interests?

The answers to these questions offer a good starting point to further develop the plan of how you intend to tackle this. For example, some users may raise a concern about their computer illiteracy. A good solution for this would be to offer additional training sessions to make them feel more comfortable about the new ERP system.

Before go-live ensure that you develop and implement training strategies to close learning gaps. It is important to involve the whole team, from end users to leaders, by understanding how their processes and work will be impacted.

 

2. Start from the Top

Managers, supervisors and leaders play a key role in managing change. If those at the top of the organisation aren’t prepared for change, you can’t expect the rest of the workforce to be. Ultimately, a manager has more influence over an employee’s motivation to change than any other person. Unfortunately, managers can be the most difficult group to convince of the need for change and can be a source of resistance.

It is the job of the ERP project team to convince those in higher management positions that embracing change will bring a host of benefits to both them and the rest of the team. They will need to provide training and guidance strategies to equip managers in coaching their employees through the change.

During this process it is also important to educate leaders on Resistance Management as persistent resistance can threaten a project. Resistance Management is the processes and tools used by managers and executives, with the support of the change team, to manage employee resistance. It is vital to address this in order to progress successfully in the ERP project.

 

3. Everyone Matters

It is vital that employees across all levels of the business feel involved. One way of achieving this internally is tailoring training programs to suit different departments. This will likely make your workforce less resistant to change as their needs are being understood and ultimately, they will feel more engaged.

Don’t forget about your other stakeholders too though. Communication is key during an ERP implementation project. You should devise a detailed Communication Plan that lists:

  • What will be communicated?
  • Why will you be communicating it?
  • Who are you going to tell?
  • Who is going to tell them?
  • When are you going to tell them?
  • How are you going to tell them?

The answers to these questions will provide you with the basis for your Communication Plan. Planning for the transition process, through implementation to post go-live, will allow you to fully understand your requirements, including the human resource you might need and how the change could impact your workforce structure.

The above tips will help you and your leadership team to anticipate the impacts of change and therefore create strategies around this to minimise disruption to the team. With meticulous planning, your workforce should feel more receptive and positive towards any ERP transitions.

 

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