Why is Change Management Key to ERP Implementation Success?

It's one of life's contradictions: When you are making improvements, facing even the most positive change is so hard it can feel like a bad thing. In the retail industry, ERP implementation is one very good example. The advantages of ERP software for the fashion and apparel industry are proven, from increasing profits through improved forecasting to optimizing your organization's operations to simply saving time, but the journey of implementing and landing a new system is long and hazardous.

Once the most suitable ERP system has been picked, your entire organization will be staring down a huge shift. And while you'll all know intellectually that the improvements are great, the new systems and new interactions are bound to involve discomfort, high emotions and yes, bunches of stress. The key to overcoming the awkward elements of change so you can fully realize the benefits of ERP? That's where a concept known as Organizational Change Management comes in.

Panorama Consulting Solutions puts it in perspective this way:

"These changes in business processes, which are inherent in any successful ERP implementation, create changes in corporate culture and climate. Though less obvious, perhaps, than changes in job functions, these subtle shifts will be very important to your staff and must be managed to avoid resentment, fear and anxiety."

A couple of key steps

Here's a birds' eye view of the key steps involved in applying OCM as you begin your ERP flight:

1. Take time to establish a project charter.

The project charter is simply your retail ERP team's concise statement of core goals, objectives and intent that can serve as a map for whatever comes next, according to ERP Focus. If you skip this step, you miss the chance to establish a vision for your project.

2. Present an overview and share knowledge with everyone affected (and that's everyone)

Employees need more than training to understand the need for (and importance of) the new ERP system implementation in the company. At a minimum, you'd need to do your best to communicate why your company chose ERP, how the system will improve jobs and how their particular position will be affected.

3. Do an ample amount of training.

While the retail business is famous for its quick learners, you can't underestimate the amount of training you'll need to implement ERP for lasting business success. Remind yourself that literally the entire organization has experienced disruption in its flow and duties, and plan education and training accordingly.

Start with ERP-related training to assure that employees learn the software, sure, but also bear down on the kind of training that lets everyone learn the new business processes. Follow through with training that emphasizes the new corporate culture and any shifts in employee interactions. It will be tough and take a while, but the shift to an optimized and highly-profitable business model through ERP will be worth all the effort.

4. Be sure your support is evident from the top down.

One of the best ways to manage the change that comes with ERP implementation is to make sure everyone knows the whole company is dedicated to its success. So present a unified front. Executives in particular should support the change fully and make sure employees company-wide know they're behind the effort. If top management doesn't engage with the process or implementation, employees will notice and their own commitment will flag.

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K3 Business Technologies | Gildeweg 9c, 2632 BD Nootdorp, The Netherlands | +31 (0) 15 251 6555 | info.k3software@k3btg.com

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