You’ve selected your solution, IT and business managers are in alignment, enterprise software implementation begins...the system goes live as planned. But as you talk to staff who are supposed to be using the system, adoption is not what you intended it was supposed to be. Users are rebelling, the old process lingers – except now it is manually managed outside the shiny new system. Rather than productivity gains, things are now taking longer. The board room is awash in argument about how to fix the “failure”. If you’ve experienced this – or if you are in it right now – it may be reassuring to know it is, sadly, a common situation. You know that change is difficult and the fear of change ranks nearly as high as the fear of public speaking or death! Yet all too often the project plan fails to include, consider or budget for specific change management elements, certain to result in project failure, or at the least, lengthy and painful transition.
Every new implementation should begin with strong messages supporting the coming change. You and all of your leadership must be on-board and show excitement about the process. You can do this by showing up for planning meetings, and encouraging everyone at every opportunity – demonstrating commitment, focus, and excitement consistently.
Begin with a strong message – this WILL get done. At one company, the CEO stated up front “employees will not lose their jobs because they implemented this software, BUT they WILL lose their job if they get in the way of implementing the software” – a strong message – and by the way, their ERP implementation was completed ahead of schedule!
One of the biggest failures when trying to implement ERP – or any new application - goes back to the fear of change; you begin with lofty goals, but discover the “inertia” of the entrenched trying to make the new software work like the one you are replacing. Change will and MUST happen, and hanging on to the old will derail your road map and jeopardize the project.
There are many ways you can manage change – leadership leading the way being most important. Here are three other possibilities worth considering – but most of all be certain to include change management in the project from the outset!
- Video messages and training – video platforms with pre-built content for many enterprise software systems are available. Include a message from company leadership that shows enthusiasm, explains the benefit to the employee, as well as the overall benefit to the company – you win – we all win.
- Gamification – everyone likes to have some fun and making change a “fun” process has become easy with the proliferation of gamification platforms that allow companies to build motivation
- Outside project management – hiring an outside project manager often reduces “politics”, keeps the focus on the project, provides a truly objective view of both the process and the gaps, plus expands capacity of the in-house PM staff so that overload is not an issue.
You can increase the probability that your enterprise software implementations hit the ground running on all cylinders by increased focus on the user experience through the implementation process. By using some of these tips, you may find your next enterprise implementation ahead of schedule, under budget, and enjoy rapid, wide-spread user adoption.