Although ERP software is by no means new technology – it has been around since the ‘90s – systems like Epicor are constantly evolving to bring more powerful digital solutions to businesses. Epicor ERP software is completely cloud ready, and the modular approach allows you to the build a tailored solution that is right for the needs of your business.
If you are a Chief Digital Officer or Chief Digital Transformation Officer, the chances are an ERP project is going to come under your remit. You have been bought in because your specialism and knowledge is in the technology, so a big part of your role in an ERP project is taking the business on the journey, helping them realise the benefits and outcomes of a new system and new processes.
With that in mind, we thought we would take you through a guide to the change management side of an ERP project, rather than the technology. In this post, we have identified some of the challenges you might face as a CDO trying to get a transformational project away, and how to meet these challenges.
This the first wall you will have to break through. You may be surprised by how stakeholders in a business, at all levels, will take a “but what is wrong with the way we’ve always done it?” attitude to proposed changes to processes and technologies. And it all comes down to a common dichotomy – what you think you want vs. what you actually need. Some team members will think they want an updated, faster version of the current ERP system. They may see the speed of the system or the look and feel as outdated, and think that a newer version will solve most of their problems. Others may think a certain piece of software will help them. It is your job to get to the root of what they want to achieve, and communicate how your proposed technology implementation and process changes will help them do this. Start talking about the what, not the how. Avoid reeling off lists of features and talking specific tools or systems – stick to outcomes. Instead of talking about specific integrations between systems for example, talk about the reduction in manual data entry, time savings and reduced risks of errors.
A common challenge for a CDO is mapping out a solution and a transformation project, only to come against pushback from the project sponsor, or other senior managers, on budget. How can you show them what the business will get back from this significant investment? We have talked before about the benefits of a phased approach to roll out as opposed to the “big bang” methodology – i.e. waiting until you have a fully functional solution and rolling it out to the business in one fell swoop. The big bang approach can lead to a lot of scratching of heads from those who control the budget – they are looking at a massive outlay on costs, and for 12 to 18 months are not likely to see any effect on efficiency, productivity or profitable. A more agile approach, identifying quick wins early and implementing technology upgrades and process changes in stages, can help not only with controlling budget, but also with demonstrating return on investment. This allows them to more quickly identify and realise the benefits that the new system or process is bringing to the business. Approaching a transformation project in easily digestible chunks also helps reduce the feeling of risk – which means you’re even more likely to see it through to completion.
Ensuring end-user adoption
The final hurdle for any business-wide implementation project is end-user adoption. As the driver of transformation, you must ensure that not only is new technology used to its full potential across the business, but new processes are adhered to as well. The aforementioned phased-approach will help with this, as it introduces the new ways of working to the users at a steady pace, instead of just “turning the lights off” on the old system overnight. Involving end-users in the process early will also help them to keep invested and with you on the journey to implementation. We have found that a good way to do this is to involve them in early business process modelling workshops, and then set up a proof-of-concept test system which they can be walked through and trained on early in the process. Since users have been heavily involved in identifying automation and streamlining opportunities early on, they more often and not become champions of the process and the project.
An internal and external blend
You do not have to go it alone – being the driving force behind a project in a business can be a challenge. An ERP consultancy partner like Clear Business Outcome can not only assist you with the functional and technical side – i.e. the actual implementation – we can also help you with the process side, including collecting requirements, process redesign and getting buy-in. If you would like to talk to us about an upcoming project – get in touch.