When it comes to IT changes for your company, it is about more than just your computer systems and technology, and the efficiencies they will create and the processes they will improve. It is also about the people who work for you.
While they may often benefit from the changes you are making, there can be challenges too, and many may feel that their jobs are potentially threatened, and their responsibilities may change when new processes become the norm.
So how do you prepare? First, you activate a cycle: plan, do, study, and act. Under these four parts of the cycle are several steps, all of which are essential to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your employees with as few friction points as possible.
Identify and Define Improvements
First of all, not just for your own peace of mind but in the interest of keeping your employees informed and satisfied, you need to clearly identify the improvements which will come from the changes you intend to make.
Defining these improvements also helps your people understand how their jobs might change and also how they may stay the same. Clarity and transparency are essential at this stage.
Present Your Case
Secondly, you need to present your case to both stakeholders and your employees to increase the likelihood that they will buy in to the new processes and the changes that are to come. If they both understand and believe in what you are doing, adoption will not be far behind.
Besides, it is essential that you understand from the start, as we will point out again later, that in the plan, do, study, and act cycle, the employees who perform those processes every day will be a huge part of the study portion. Their feedback will be essential.
Plan for Change
There are a couple of types of implementation, but both involve a point where complete implementation of a new ERP occurs. Some changes can be made slowly, and data can be migrated over time, but other data, like customer information and currently open invoices and ongoing projects must be implemented as soon as the new software is turned on.
This means that this implementation must occur at a certain date and time. All employees should have a solid understanding of the new software and processes, and this change should occur at a time when it will have the lowest impact on both employees and customers. This means a slow time of the month and/or day, followed by an allowed time for adjustment. Have an implementation plan and a backup plan just in case things do not go as smoothly as you would like.
Change brings with it a certain learning curve, and the best way to mitigate the consequences of that learning curve is to have as many resources as possible available. This means everything from frequently asked questions to a resource line from your new ERP provider, or even ongoing consulting services for a limited amount of time.
Everyone in your company, including you will be new to this particular ERP, especially if you have chosen to go with a custom system created specifically for your organization. Make sure that answers can be found for all of the questions you all might have.
Make Data-Based Evaluations
Your new ERP will create a lot of data you can compare to your previous ERP and that will inform you how new processes are performing in comparison. When learning the new ERP and what processes still need to be tweaked, use this data to make fact rather than feeling. Based decisions.
The reason is there may be resistance and even resentment of the new system on a feelings level until employees and stakeholders embrace and adapt it. Be sure that any feedback and complaints you address are based on data as well.
There are times when a user interface may just feel wrong to employees, and if that is the case, modifying it might be worthwhile. If enough employees dislike it, that is actually data that can be acted upon. Be sure that pure numbers and efficiency is not the only data you are looking at.
That brings us to one of the most important components of change management: good communication. What do employees and stakeholders like about the new processes? What do they hate about them? Are they things that can be addressed?
Other things to ask are if the new ERP and process automation is having an impact on your company culture. Is that impact good or bad? Are employees inspired or disheartened? The greatest efficiencies in the world cannot replace your greatest resource, your people. Be sure you are talking to them openly, and that the lines of communication remain open at all times.
Monitor and Manage Resistance and Challenges
A part of any change process is that you might encounter resistance and even challenges to the new system. The key to communication as mentioned above is to monitor that resistance and the challenges that come with it, and then address it appropriately.
If you do not carefully monitor resistance, you may not fully understand the effect changes are having on your employees, and that may mean some of them leaving for other positions or decreased performance despite better efficiency and smoother processes.
How do you address these challenges? Using many of the things mentioned above.
- Emphasize the positive.
- Take constructive feedback and compare it to data. Is there a change you need to make?
- Actively listen.
- Offer support and resources.
- Make personnel changes if need be.
No one wants to take the last action but often change is necessary, and if an employee cannot adapt and adopt the new system no matter what accommodations are made for them, it can be necessary.
When things go well, offer time for celebration together. Share in success and give credit where credit is due. Remember, part of the process to address resistance and challenges is to remain positive. Don’t just talk about what has gone wrong and how to fix it, be remind everyone of how things have improved and will continue to do so.
Revise and Improve as Needed
Lastly, be ready to revise and improve as necessary. Not everything will go perfectly, and part of change management and the implementation process is being willing to take a step back and revise processes as needed.
The key is flexibility. All of these stages require planning, adoption, communication, analysis, managing resistance, and revision. Don’t forget to celebrate though, and at the end of it all your business will be more efficient and profitable, benefiting everyone.
Need to transition from an out of the box ERP to one customized to your organization? Are you starting from scratch and new to process automation and ERP? Contact us here at SixtySixTen. We will be happy to talk about how we can help you manage change at your business while creating overall solutions and business automation processes to meet your needs.