Change management is a key skill for project teams. No matter the type of initiative, there are always revisions to processes, workflows, or other parts of the organization’s operations that need to be managed and controlled. But ERP implementation projects affect numerous systems and departments, and they bring additional levels of complexity to the change management picture. As a result, your strategy to manage the planned changes should typically be a bit wider ranging than it might be with a more routine effort.
If you’re getting ready to launch an ERP initiative, consider some of the different stakeholders that will need to be part of your expanded change management strategy.
Supporting end users through the transition to a new ERP system is often a primary concern for enterprises. Training that helps users learn to navigate the platform and perform routine functions is commonly provided, of course, but you shouldn’t stop there. Work closely with end users to understand how their workflows will change—not just day to day, but also for activities with a long recurrence period (annual reporting, for example) and any tasks that are infrequent or have historically been complex, cumbersome or time consuming to accomplish. You don’t want your users to hit a roadblock when it comes time to pull together the yearly look-back data or format reports to match the filing intake protocols for government entities or partner organizations.
Some segment of your external providers will likely be affected by the transition to the new ERP system, and ensuring they’re equipped to deal with those changes is to your advantage. You’ll gain more value from your ERP platform if outside collaborators can easily and securely share information through the system. Whether it’s connecting a vendor with an experienced technology advisor to establish links between the various platforms or identifying a timeframe to review how things are working with the new ERP solution and making necessary adjustments, your change management strategy should include helping your outside partners engage with the system effectively.
The new ERP system will create significant changes within your technology stack and, while the IT team is likely a key player in your implementation project, don’t overlook their need for support as the network environment evolves. Your IT group may need to add new skills to its in-house base or develop a partnership with an outside vendor to provide an elevated level of services on an ongoing basis. New integrations between internal systems—along with an expanded set of connections to external data sources and partner platforms—could also impact existing workflows and processes. Data privacy agreements may be needed to cover vendors that didn’t previously have access to your organization’s information systems and updated maintenance or administrative tasks might be necessary to keep everything running at peak performance.
Though your senior leadership team probably won’t have hands-on responsibilities with the ERP system on a regular basis, they will likely have access to new data sets, new analytics capabilities, and new reporting functionality as part of the implementation. Helping them get the most out of the ERP platform’s features can boost the ROI your organization reaps from the project, so plotting a change management strategy that includes the executive group is prudent. Work to connect them with experts who can provide guidance on leveraging the system’s components and applying the right tools to the data to deliver the insight they need. The ability to make smart, timely business decisions is a valuable benefit of modern ERP systems and your change management strategy should help your company’s leaders achieve that objective.
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