Stories from the Field: The Importance of Change Management

As part of Ultra’s independent ERP consultant team, I spend my weeks out in the field teaming with Ultra’s manufacturing and distribution clients on business process improvement, ERP evaluation, selection, and implementation projects.

One of my more recent client engagements is with a mid-market distributor of plumbing supplies based in the Western US region.  This 75-year old family owned company operates with a total of 14 branches throughout the entire Washington state including Alaska. They employee 150  people.

About the Project

The distributor engaged Ultra to lead business process improvement, technology selection, and implementation.  Most recently, our team led the Project Management Office for the implementation.

At the outset, the company teamed with Ultra due to our industry expertise, strategic experience with project and change management and significant knowledge of ERP vendor strengths and weaknesses.

The leadership of this company understood that the project was too complex and resource-intensive to go alone., so it was key to team with experts for an overall plan and activities to identify potential risks and mitigate those risks before they could become obstacles which could disrupt the flow of the project.

A Focus on Success

To help drive a successful outcome for this distributor, our team made sure the project was focused on business process transformation and industry best practices to get to the desired future state.

From the beginning of the project, it was key to see that the desired future state and business transformation goals were built into the process.

In addition, having independent insight into a variety of vendors allowed the distributor to leverage our neutral experience to identify the best-fit solutions for their organization.

Key Challenges

One of the key challenges the company was facing included resistance to change when it came time to standardizing processes and selecting new technology.

For lasting change, the ERP project 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.

Ultra was called in to help mitigate these “people-related” issues with great success.  Read more about change management and ERP lessons learned.

We often emphasize that there is a “Human Element to ERP.”

Ultra feels very strongly that change management is not just a phase. Instead, change management must be woven into the fabric of methodology and built into the project plan and team culture throughout every phase of a technology project.

Project Status

As a first strategy, it was key to clearly articulate the case for change. We led the team to communicate project scope, rollout strategy and implementation schedule as the ERP project got underway.

We made sure the entire enterprise fully understood project scope, rollout strategy, and the implementation schedule.

BPI, evaluation, and selection of a new system are now complete.  We are in the Stabilization period and will close this project with Steering Team sign off very shortly.

To help drive a successful outcome for this distributor, our team made sure the project was focused on business process transformation and industry best practices to get to the desired future state.

From the beginning of the project, it was key to see that the desired future state and business transformation goals were built into the process.

In addition, having independent insight into a variety of vendors allowed the distributor to leverage our neutral experience to identify the best-fit solutions for their organization.

Lessons Learned

The entire team now understands the importance of change management – which involves communications, planning, training and truly what it means for the business to “own the system.”

As part of ERP process improvement services, this organization now understand that change management helps reduce any resistance. Both individual and organizational values affect how a change is received in the organization and both were addressed in order to be successful.

As with any complex project, resistance to change is the norm, not the exception. Expect it, prepare for it and manage it to minimize the impact that it can have. Ignoring it and hoping it will go away is not an option.

Expect resistance to change, prepare for it and manage it to minimize the impact

It involves introducing best practices throughout the entire organization to increase efficiency, improve overall business performance and maximize the ERP system’s value.

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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Jeff is the founder of Ultra Consultants, a well-known voice in the ERP consulting industry and an expert on ERP solutions for discrete and process manufacturers. Over the last 40-plus years, his companies have helped more than 2,000 organizations improve their business processes, select ERP software and implement advanced solutions.

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