• Bart van Strijen, Partner |

Enterprise architecture (EA) projects benefit modern organizations in many ways. EA is the driving source for bridging the gap between IT and the business. The complexity of today’s data-driven business thus needs to be managed, a compound undertaking considering the high-velocity and ever-changing environment most companies are operating in.

This article focuses on the challenges of implementing an ERP system, how a sound technology-driven change management (TDCM) fosters the delivery of a successful solution, and how this is to be approached. 

The challenges ERP system implementations face and why people matter

The future of digital landscapes is facilitated by ERP system implementation. New ERP systems are the elixir for growth and change. But studies show the difficulties of implementing a sound ERP system. In effect, 2'000 data points in 10 years show that initiatives with planned change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those without a formal change management strategy (PROSCI 2020 Benchmarking Data). The roots come down to the topic of change as an area of construction: The change of mindsets and attitudes, change of corporate culture, or change of processes. To get change right, a functioning system alone is not enough. Often forgotten or underestimated, soft factors are the hardest to get right: Leadership engagement, employee involvement as well as honest and transparent communications are the drivers behind a successful change. Project teams need to adapt to the new system, otherwise the risk is taken to conclude in old organization structures that do not support the new system.

Unlocking the full potential of a new technology happens with behavior change

Only the common effort to make a system work and the realization that change is something personal will allow the full potential of a new technology to unfold. Their interdependence shows that the one cannot work without the other. Implementing a new system is certainly never achieved with a "one size fits all" solution. Both system transformation and behavioral change aspects must be closely monitored and equally prioritized. But how can an organization focus on behavioral change? The TDCM provides answers to this quest:  

  • Proven TDCM approach and dedicated resources from day one. Dedicated Change Management resources, who also understand that the technical part of an ERP implementation is important for success. Change Management directly reports to the leadership team and an industrialized, customizable and scalable approach embedded in the implementation from day one must be a priority.
  • Involvement of the right stakeholders from an early stage on. Leaders need to be aligned around the strategic aims, ambition and scale of change. Establishing clear expectations upfront is critical for clear goals and realistic expectations to be set. Underlying behaviors, assumptions and required change shifts between the various stakeholders need to be assessed. This can be achieved with knowledge transfers. 
  • Ignition of enthusiasm among key leaders about the power of their new system.  Change leadership is not optional. Communication of the right messages to the right audiences at the right time from leaders is important to build a sense of excitement for the upcoming journey. There should be a clear image of the way local and global business performance will be improved through the new system implementation. This is the change vision and the case for change.
  • Training key users and equip them to be change champions. Following the change vision and case for change, ownership for the solution needs to be allocated. Translate the change vision into reality for people in the organization and define what it means for them. Move the organization towards the end state and equip people to work in new ways.
  • Understanding of changes to support end success. Ensure the change is sustainable in the long term and that the benefits are realized. Consolidate improvements and monitor change effectiveness. End users should comfortably use the system and embrace the new ways of working.

In conclusion, a TDCM approach is vital in order to succeed in the vastly changing business environment companies find themselves in. A functional system is not enough: An adapted organization structure and the project team fully embracing the news ways of working are required for successful change.

If you want to have more information on the topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.