The People Side of ERP Implementations

By: Sarah Concannon    January 5, 2022

Many Lawson ERP users know that the move to CloudSuite is on their horizon, some sooner than others. Today, I want to explore what makes integrated change management an important element for success on these types of projects and the change management activities you can start incorporating today into your preparation efforts.

Let’s start with some questions that some of you may be asking yourselves: Why is change management important to an ERP project? Isn’t this about technology, not people? System users will have no choice but to change; it’s not as if they can just go back to using the old platform after Go Live, right? These are fair things to question, but what you really need to ask yourself is “how much of the success or the return on investment for this project is dependent upon people adopting change?” Or, for our purposes, “how much is it dependent upon people engaging, adopting, and using the new system as designed and intended?” The answer can vary widely based on the nature of the project.

It’s often helpful to put this question in context. Lets use some examples to illustrate a low (or no) people-dependent ROI project vs. one that is highly people-dependent: Installing motion-activated conference room lighting as a cost and energy-saving measure doesn’t require any change in people’s normal behaviors to be a success. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have something like instituting an office recycling program where you’re installing bins for different materials alongside the trash containers.  In this case, you’re almost entirely dependent upon employees using the recycling bins as intended and not continuing their old habit of throwing everything into the garbage, or else the initiative will be a failure. With that in mind, think for a moment about where a CloudSuite project, with all its different facets, really sits on that scale. There are many ways in which it will bring about substantial changes for your organization, leaders and managers, departments, individual system users, and internal customers.

At the end of the day, all organizational change is an aggregation of change that is happening at the individual level. Your stakeholders need to move successfully from the current state through the transition state and into the future state, and you need them to do it together at a pace that aligns with your project milestones. If some folks can’t successfully navigate through that transition by Go Live or at all, then you are left with an incomplete future state.  And if your future state is incomplete, so is your ROI.

These are often big, complex, highly involved projects that require not just financial investment, but also time, effort, energy, knowledge and more from the project team and other stakeholders.  You want it to go well, not just because you want everyone to be happy, but because you want the best possible return on that investment in this solution and the project itself is an important part of that investment.

The good news is that the first two elements of change – Awareness and Desire – are things you can get a jump on ahead of time. CloudSuite is going to deliver awesome new functionality and benefits that it’s worth getting excited about. You’ll uncover even more of them once you get to the design phase, but there is plenty of delivered value that you should be aware of upfront and that you can be socializing before the project officially kicks off. Focus on the purpose of this change and what it’s going to help the organization achieve.

We recently had the opportunity to go onsite with a healthcare client and do some value proposition brainstorming at the departmental level with the functional workstreams. It was so helpful to ground the project work that they’re doing in the knowledge of all of the gains and pain relief that CloudSuite is going to provide to them in the future state. The simple act of documenting these value propositions is powerful and gives department managers and leaders something concrete to touch back to in their formal and informal communications about the project.

And that’s crucial because (spoiler alert!) people don’t like change. It’s human nature; we have a knee-jerk resistant response to it much of the time. New and unfamiliar things are scary. Evolutionarily, there is a reason we feel this way, but it’s not a particularly helpful instinct for projects that involve a transition. Beyond that, these projects usually involve asking more of people who may already feel like they’re near or over their limit.  This brings me to my other recommendation: start thinking about who the key members of your change network are going to be for the project and how you can make sure that they’re engaged and supported.

Think about all the other demands on the sponsor’s time and attention that they are likely to be juggling alongside the project. Their overall bandwidth.  Their personal level of change saturation. Anything that might impact the effectiveness of their sponsorship. Next, think of all the other people that you can rally around the sponsor to provide different kinds and levels of support throughout the project. This is your sponsor coalition and it’s really going to reinforce and strengthen your project leadership, which is so impactful for successful change management.

Those are my two key pointers for you on change management as you look ahead to implementing CloudSuite, or really any new ERP solution. Your interest in reading about change management is evidence of a proactive mindset and will no doubt prove advantageous for you. To learn more about why change management is such a worthwhile investment for your project’s success and how RPI Consultants services can transform your organization, visit our Organizational Change Management Service page and contact us for more information.

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