Change Management in an ERP Implementation

The commonly held belief is that people are resistant to change, which is the leading cause for failed ERP implementations/changes. It is our opinion that the resistance to change is a symptom of the problem, and not the cause. The primary cause is not being prepared for the implementation, which will then lead to resistance as employees face huge, unexpected problems, work overtime for months or more, and question leadership who brought about the change. Change management experts focus on remedies that include support from leadership and communication plans, which don’t fix the primary problem. To fix the primary problem, organizations must understand the roles, responsibilities and effort required for an ERP implementation. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have a clue about what to expect. The vendors don’t help. They assign responsibilities to their customers, for which their customers have no idea what expertise and level of effort is required. They provide schedules that lack the effort required by their clients to accomplish tasks or don’t even define the tasks. The vendors are not highly motivated in the sales cycle to help their prospects understand what is needed as they risk delays or decisions by their prospects not to proceed with an implementation once they know what is really required.

To fix the primary problem, you need to start with a clear definition of roles, responsibilities and effort to implement the ERP system. But it’s only a start. You can’t know what you don’t know at the beginning of the implementation. Subject matter experts are assigned responsibilities and the number of days to get a job done that they may have never done before. So, you need to monitor and adjust roles, responsibilities and the effort/schedule before employees are sick and tired of the ERP implementation.

Think of an ERP implementation as an iceberg with 89% of the iceberg under water and not visible. In an ERP implementation, you only see a small % of what is needed to get the job done at the beginning.