ERP project success follows from a structured, purposeful approach aimed to help transition people, teams, and organizations from their current state to the desired future state. Included in this ERP methodology based on Ultra’s successful projects, here are change management and ERP lessons learned.
Lesson #1: Merely swapping out software = change management failure
In our experience, technology-related change management is only successful with an understanding that the process is much more than just swapping out legacy software or tweaking a few IT solutions. For lasting change, the emphasis must be on people and processes. Success follows from a structured, purposeful approach aimed to help transition people, teams, and organizations from their current state to the desired future state.
As an example, a $100 million global medical testing equipment manufacturer was looking to restart a failed ERP selection and implementation project. The company was grappling with this failed project for more than eight years – one of the lengthiest “failures” we’ve ever seen!
The original software selection was performed without an agreed upon vision of the future state, which was a key misstep. Also lacking was consistent direction to the ERP project team about the goals of the project – was it to simply duplicate existing processes or drive best practices to an improved “future state”?
Multiple factors combined to slow down and eventually halt the ERP project, including lack of coordinated team activities which resulted in siloed decision-making. Project staffing was also a contributing issue. The core project team did not have the proper allocation of time or resources to work effectively on the ERP evaluation and selection project. Ultra’s philosophy of change management in technology projects reflects its extensive experience.
Lesson #2: Don’t leave out a project charter
Change management is not just a phase. Instead, it must be woven into the fabric of the methodology, and built into the project plan and team culture throughout every phase of the project. It’s key to be continuously aware of change promoters, adopters, influencers, and resistors as they transition from the current to the future state.
That said, one of the best and most effective strategies is a project charter. It is the ERP team’s concise statement of core goals, objectives, and intent. A charter serves as the map for everything that comes next.
The charter outlines the compelling business case for change, and answers the question: “Why are we doing this?” Ultra outlines the key components to a project charter in a recent blog: A Key Part of the Puzzle: The ERP Project Charter.
Lesson #3: Communicate the reasons for the project
A new ERP software selection and implementation project usually involves some shifting of roles or reallocation of work. Some users will find they have more to do under the new ERP system. Others will find their responsibilities decreased. Both of those situations can be unsettling.
Thus, a key blind spot results when leadership misdirects the project emphasis solely on technology without considering the interconnected pieces – people, processes, and technology.
To overcome this blind spot, it’s imperative to consistently communicate the “Why” of the project through ongoing education. Take the time to ensure that staff can function as “change agents” within the company as opposed to those that resist change.
Lesson #4: Don’t ignore early warning signs
When it comes to change Management and ERP lessons learned, creating true business transformation takes hard work, diligence, and perseverance. Transformation is more than mere change; it is a new behavior of accepting and adapting to changing situations by allowing yourself and your organization to be nimble and adaptive. Sometimes enterprises will miss the early warning signs that a technology project is sinking.
Turning to the example of the $100 million global medical testing equipment manufacturer, the early warning sign was a lack of a future state vision. All the key stakeholders involved in the failed project, which limped along for eight years, never achieved consistent alignment as to the goals or the desired future state vision which should have defined future business processes, a future system context, and a long-range transformation plan.
Additional Resources on ERP Lessons Learned
Ultra’s organizational change management methodology that focuses on people, processes, structures, and culture, plus its proven track record of ERP project success will guide your team through each step of your transformation project.
Gain more insight into change management and ERP lessons learned in Ultra’s white paper, A Change Management Strategy for Your ERP Project.