Make Communications Part of an Effective Change Management Plan

In our experience as an independent ERP consultant team, an ERP selection and implementation initiative is successful when the project team understands that the process is much more than swapping a modern application with legacy software or tweaking a few IT solutions.

This conclusion is based on hundreds of successful business process transformation projects led by our team.

When Ultra guides manufacturing and distribution organizations, we see first-hand that change management is not just a phase. Instead, change management must be woven into the fabric of evaluation, selection and implementation methodologies, built into the project plan and team culture throughout every phase of a technology project.

It’s key to be continuously aware of change promoters, adopters, influencers, and resistors as they transition from current to the future state.

How a Communication Plan Differs from an Effective Change Management Plan

As part of overall business process improvement, an effective change management plan includes comprehensive strategies to move individuals and the organization through the following five phases for change:

  1. Business Leadership owns the change
  2. Understanding the direction of the organization and the impact of the change
  3. Engage and Communicate to the Stakeholders
  4. Prepare the workforce for the change
  5. Organizational internalization of the new behavior and commitment to the change

Organizations might mistakenly conclude that effective change management is the same thing as communications tasks.

Some organizations we’ve worked with mistakenly conclude that an effective change management plan is the same thing as a communications plan.

They might assume that simply communicating changes that will stem from an ERP project is all that is required to achieve employee buy-in and even behavior change.

While an understandable assumption, it is not an accurate one.  ERP users are not likely to accept change simply by being told about it through various communications channels. Communication is just one of the critical success factors of an effective change plan and successful ERP project.

The Role of Communications in an Effective Change Management Plan

Given that communications play a role in an overall change management plan, the emphasis must be on communicating the benefits of new technology and processes to all key stakeholders and the entire organization.

Each part of the business will see specific benefits. Stakeholders will have been identified through the project.  Revisit that the identified stakeholders are those who are impacted by the change and those who impact the change

Once stakeholders are identified, set out a plan to communicate through various channels such as an ‘all hands’ presentation for the whole organization, smaller workshops for individual teams, a designated “intranet” company portal, a FAQ or live Q & A session that could be company wide or split into the business units affected to make it as relevant as possible.

A detailed communication plan answers what will be communicated, why, to whom (audience), by whom, when, and how.

Engage and Communicate With Stakeholders

Once the audience and communications channels are set, the communications plan must take into consideration the following:

  • Ensure understanding of project scope, objectives, milestones, deliverables, critical success factors and approaches
  • Enable information sharing between and among all project stakeholders
  • Ensure timely understanding of project status
  • Facilitate timely identification of opportunities and resolution of issues
  • Facilitate the execution of the transition process through post go-live
  • Communications should provide the right information at the right time to the right audience in the most efficient and effective manner

Read More About Building an Effective Change Management Plan

We’ve addressed only one of the key issues when it comes to creating an effective change management plan. See these additional resources.

Wondering how change management should play a role in your ERP project? Contact the Ultra team for further insight.

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Software selection and implementation processes often present challenges of their own. To steer you around trouble and help you drive success, Ultra’s experts compiled a list of pain points and solutions to be aware of as you embark on this journey.

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