Skip to main content

Successful transformation requires preparation for change

This is the 2nd blog post in our series looking at the best practices for implementing an ERP system, whether it’s a completely new system or replacing an older ERP. In our first blog, we looked at success outcomes and asked if a success outcome had been defined. Clearly articulating which business problems will be improved and how you will define and measure success goes a long way toward ensuring a successful ERP implementation.

This latest post covers the key questions: What is changing, and how do you prepare your organization for the change? 

What is changing?

Implementing an ERP solution is about solving a business problem to reach a business outcome, so you’re not just implementing new technology; you’re looking to improve operational processes and implement new, modern ways of working that could deliver benefits faster.

Either changing or implementing new processes to achieve the desired business outcomes will mean a change to how end users complete tasks and activities. And it is this that needs to be clearly planned and communicated to your employees.

Project participation

Employee ownership is critical to a new system's success. It boosts acceptance while increasing job satisfaction and commitment. Showing how involvement benefits not just the organization but also employees can inspire greater participation. And involving employees in the work that will be completed in the future will help pinpoint resistance and issues before they occur.

Click to read How Cloud ERP can change your organization for the better gated

Preparing your employees for change

Remember, when the ERP goes live, you are asking your employees to work differently. We will cover this in more detail in a future blog, but to help prepare your employees for the changes ahead we recommend the following practices:

1. Communicate what is and is not changing

Transparent communication is essential. Clear reasoning behind decisions and how they may affect each employee's role and day-to-day functions should be communicated throughout the process. By involving all departments and employees, training needs can be identified, and the program can be adapted to meet specific group needs. 

Be specific about what is changing. For example, as part of the new implementation, employees may now be required to submit their expense reports through the ERP system. Previously, they may have filled out spreadsheets and sent them to their manager or the finance department via email. This change aims to automate the process of creating and submitting expense reports for reimbursement. In this scenario, employees will need to know the following:

  • Why is the organization moving to an automated solution for managing expense reports?
  • What is the timeline for reimbursement once the expense report is approved?
  • How to use ERP for creating, managing, and approving expense reports.

2. Explain why the change is occurring

Humans are creatures of habit and routine. When new technology is implemented, you are disrupting the way people do things. People like to understand the reasons for the change. It is best to be clear about the reasons for the change and how it will be managed. This creates buy-in and advocates for change.

3. Guide how work activities will be performed

Employees want to perform well in their jobs. Creating and updating end-user processes is essential so employees can perform as expected. But people need time to learn the new ways of working. Change fails when people do not know how to work. And it’s often misunderstood that training people on how to use the new ERP system differs from teaching employees how to perform their jobs.

For example, instead of focusing on the steps to reach a goal, first concentrate on the desired outcomes. For instance, reducing the time it takes to process invoices by 15% could be a target outcome that will be accomplished with a new automation system. The specific processes needed to achieve this objective can then be determined. When your employees understand what the expected new business outcomes are, they will be more willing to engage with the process.

The implementation project is just one part of your journey, and your people need a plan that reflects their daily activities. When we implement an ERP solution for a customer, we provide test scripts that help them remember how to execute new work processes. An effective way to simplify the process for your users is by organizing the test script so it aligns with your newly designed process. The test script will then provide you with the exact steps to be completed for a specific process. This allows users to familiarize themselves with the system, enables error analysis, and provides more information about the task, making it easier for users to understand and execute.

4. Include business end users in defining your processes

During an ERP implementation, business end users are often only engaged in the project once training occurs. This is a mistake because it requires business end users to learn both their new job tasks and the new processes required to do their work at the same time, which can be overwhelming. This can result in frustration with the new system, leading to business end users rejecting or resenting the new business process. Engaging a handful of business end users during the planning and process definition allows your training to focus on how people will do their work. 

How Unit4 can help you with a smooth implementation 

The ERP solution is an enabler for executing work. The ERP is not the change – how you will align people, processes, and technology to achieve a strategic goal is the change.​ And a change management strategy helps you articulate “what” is changing.

At Unit4, we have a team of experts who can assist you in evaluating, strategizing, and carrying out your ERP transformation project. We understand the challenges that organizations face in making changes to IT systems and changing the way people carry out their daily tasks. Our experienced team is committed to equipping you with the necessary expertise and skills to establish a more efficient work process while supporting you throughout the change management project and ultimately achieving your goals.

To learn more about Unit4 ERP and moving to the Cloud, you can book a demo here or click here to read more about our suite of solutions.

Sign up to see more like this