ERP Implementation Tip #14: Change Resistors and Change Management
In last week’s ERP implementation tip, I explained how to build a Gaps and Issues Database to keep ERP problems from torpedoing your project. This week and next, I delve into the fourth and final deliverable of the project mapping phase: the change management plan.
This week, I identify potential pockets of change resistance and discuss how an effective communications plan can be used to drive ERP implementation success and diffuse potentially fatal project resistance.
Tip #14: Identifying Change Resistors and Managing Change
Having completed the blueprint whitepapers, you should now have a fairly good idea of what your business’ future operating environment will look like. With this new-found clarity, it is time for you to lead your organization into the future. This stage of the implementation project is all about leadership. It is where the great project managers separate themselves from the pretenders.
To earn a spot in the “great project manager” category, you need to first secure project support from key stakeholders. If key stakeholders won’t support you or the project, you can be sure they won’t follow you down a path that they perceive to be treacherous. In fact, many resistors will hold the project back; in some cases sabotaging the project.
To secure stakeholder support, you first need to identify potential pockets of resistance. Resistance can lurk throughout all organizational ranks. Common examples include:
- A union that objects to revised job duties that fall outside of the collective agreement;
- Employees who are afraid of or do not want to learn new processes and systems;
- Managers who object to donating their “A-players” to the implementation team; and
- Executives who stand to lose performance-based incentives because of short-term disruptions caused by the implementation project.
Once potential pockets of resistance are identified, a customized strategy must be developed to convert resistors into supporters. If conversion cannot be achieved and if the resistance is sufficiently strong, the project manager should consider the following worst-case scenario alternatives: recommending employee dismissal, recommending project termination and resigning from the project.
Oftentimes, however, resistance can be overcome. In many cases, resistance results from a fear of the unknown. As a natural defence mechanism, the human mind has a tendency to play out worst-case scenarios in circumstances of uncertainty and lack of information. A communications strategy designed to provide information and address concerns can be an effective diffuser of project resistance.
A communications strategy should be set out in a comprehensive communications plan. This plan should codify the procedures and responsibilities relating to the periodic dissemination of project-related information. Key target audiences include: project teams, employees, and external stakeholders. Examples of common communications channels include: email newsletters, press releases, meetings, town halls and analyst interviews/earnings calls. Although one-way communications are important, two-way communications also play an important role. Two-ways channels like town halls and departmental meetings open up opportunities to engage stakeholders who want their voices to be heard. Oftentimes, these stakeholders bring to light key project-based issues that may have been overlooked.
Remember: good leaders listen.
You won’t want to miss next week’s ERP implementation tip. In it, I will offer tips on how to develop a fulsome change management plan. I'll also be discussing how to effectively train a geographically dispersed workforse in a compressed schedule.
Finally, if you have any questions about your ERP project, feel free to contact our ERP experts - they'll be happy to help.
Good luck with your ERP implementation projects!
Your POV (post comments below)
- Where have you encountered resistance to change?
- How has change resistance jeopardized your project?
- How have you overcome resistance to change?
In this series of weekly ERP project management tips, we walk you through an ERP implementation project using Pemeco's "Milestone Deliverables" project management methodology.
You can buy our project management book and CD of template forms "Milestone Deliverables: The Hands-On Approach to Implementing ERP Projects" here.