Ahadi Software Africa

Overcoming resistance to change in ERP implementation

Question: What is the biggest challenge you will encounter during an ERP solution/software implementation? I am sure you already have a little bit of a clue. It is in the title.

Resistance to change is the biggest challenge you will encounter when implementing any type of ERP solution or system. This is generally a shock to many. Often times, we beat ourselves up trying to find the best ERP solution, then we go through the tiresome process of customizing it and optimizing it to make it truly ours, only to have our employees and other stake holders struggle to adapt to it.

During the board room meetings as we discuss our digital transformation goals, it is often a time of great positivity. It all seems so easy right?

This is the reality.

And it is a tough reality.

So what can we do about resistance to change when implementing ERP solutions?

I don’t know about how other ERP solutions experts operate, so what I am about to suggest are my own personal views.

I handle resistance to change using my personally developed process, I call it the A.D.A.P.T.C.H.A.N.G.E. method.

A – Address concerns
D – Develop training programs
A – Acknowledge benefits
P – Promote involvement
T – Transparent communication
C – Celebrate milestones
H – Harness leadership support
A – Anticipate challenges
N – Nurture ownership
G – Gather feedback
E – Embrace flexibility

Let us go through each one by one;

Step 1: Address Concerns

During the initial stages of ERP implementation, it’s crucial to address any concerns or apprehensions that stakeholders may have. This involves actively listening to their feedback and empathizing with their worries. Here’s how you can address concerns effectively:

Active Listening:

Start by engaging with stakeholders one-on-one or in small group settings. Encourage them to voice their concerns openly and honestly. As an ERP implementation expert, I often find that people appreciate the opportunity to express their worries without feeling judged.

Clarify Misconceptions

Many times, resistance stems from misunderstandings or misconceptions about the ERP system and its implications. Take the time to address these misconceptions by providing accurate information and clarifying any misunderstandings.

Anecdote: In a previous ERP implementation, the production team was resistant to the new system because they believed it would increase their workload. After a series of discussions and demonstrations, we were able to show them how the ERP system would streamline their processes and actually reduce their administrative tasks. This clarification alleviated their concerns and garnered their support for the project.

Provide Reassurance

Change can often evoke feelings of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Provide reassurance to stakeholders by emphasizing the support mechanisms in place, such as comprehensive training programs, dedicated help desks, and ongoing assistance from implementation teams.

Some stakeholders may exhibit outright resistance to change due to various reasons, such as fear of job loss, loss of control, or personal discomfort with technology. Address resistance by understanding the underlying motivations and addressing them with empathy and patience.

By addressing concerns proactively and with empathy, ERP implementation experts can lay a solid foundation for overcoming resistance to change and fostering stakeholder buy-in.

Step 2: Develop Training Programs

Effective training programs are essential for ensuring that employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate the new ERP system. Here’s how you can develop comprehensive training programs:

Assess Training Needs

Conduct a thorough assessment of the training needs of different user groups within the organization. Identify areas where employees may require additional support or specialized training based on their roles and responsibilities.

Tailor Training Content

Develop training content that is tailored to the specific needs and preferences of different user groups. Utilize a variety of training methods, such as hands-on workshops, online tutorials, and interactive simulations, to accommodate diverse learning styles.

Engage Subject Matter Experts

Collaborate with subject matter experts from various departments to develop training content that is relevant and practical. These experts can provide valuable insights into the specific workflows and processes that will be impacted by the ERP system.

Provide Ongoing Support

Offer ongoing support to employees throughout the training process and beyond. Establish dedicated help desks or support channels where employees can seek assistance and troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Foster a Learning Culture

Encourage a culture of continuous learning within the organization by promoting the value of ongoing skill development and knowledge enhancement. Provide incentives or recognition for employees who actively participate in training programs and demonstrate proficiency in using the ERP system.

Step 3: Acknowledge Benefits

Acknowledging the benefits of the ERP system is crucial for gaining buy-in from stakeholders and overcoming resistance to change. Here’s how you can effectively communicate the benefits of the ERP system:

Highlight Efficiency Improvements

Emphasize how the ERP system will streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and reduce manual workloads. Illustrate specific examples of how employees’ daily tasks will become more efficient and less time-consuming with the new system in place.

Improve Decision-Making

Communicate how the ERP system will provide access to real-time data and insights that will enable better decision-making at all levels of the organization. Show how data-driven insights can lead to more informed strategic planning and resource allocation.

Enhance Collaboration

Emphasize how the ERP system will facilitate collaboration and communication across different departments and teams. Highlight features such as centralized data repositories, shared calendars, and project management tools that will promote collaboration and teamwork.

Support Growth and Scalability

Position the ERP system as a strategic investment that will support the organization’s growth and scalability objectives. Illustrate how the system’s scalability and flexibility will accommodate future expansion and adaptation to changing business needs.

Improve Customer Experience

Showcase how the ERP system will enhance the customer experience by enabling faster response times, more accurate order processing, and personalized service delivery. Emphasize how satisfied customers lead to increased loyalty and profitability for the organization.

Step 4: Promote Involvement

Promoting involvement from stakeholders across all levels of the organization is crucial for building ownership and commitment to the ERP implementation process. Here’s how you can promote involvement effectively:

Engage Stakeholders Early: Involve stakeholders from different departments and levels of the organization early in the ERP implementation process. Encourage their participation in decision-making, requirement gathering, and solution design to ensure that their needs and perspectives are considered.

Create Cross-Functional Teams: Establish cross-functional teams that bring together representatives from various departments to collaborate on the ERP implementation. These teams can provide valuable insights, identify potential challenges, and drive alignment across different areas of the organization.

Encourage Feedback and Ideas: Create channels for stakeholders to provide feedback and share ideas throughout the ERP implementation process. Actively solicit input from employees, managers, and other key stakeholders to ensure that their concerns are addressed and their contributions are valued.

Empower Champions: Identify and empower champions within the organization who are enthusiastic about the ERP implementation and can inspire others to get involved. These champions can serve as advocates for the project, motivate their peers, and help overcome resistance to change.

Provide Training and Support: Offer training and support to stakeholders who may be less familiar with the ERP system or the implementation process. Equip them with the knowledge and resources they need to actively participate and contribute effectively to the project.

Recognize and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge and reward the contributions of stakeholders who actively participate in the ERP implementation process. Publicly recognize their efforts, highlight their achievements, and celebrate milestones to reinforce a culture of involvement and collaboration.

Step 5: Transparent Communication

Transparent communication is vital for building trust, managing expectations, and addressing concerns throughout the ERP implementation process. Here’s how you can ensure transparent communication:

Establish Open Channels

Create open channels of communication through which stakeholders can access information about the ERP implementation. Utilize various communication tools and platforms, such as emails, newsletters, intranet portals, and regular meetings, to keep stakeholders informed.

Provide Regular Updates

Keep stakeholders updated on the progress of the ERP implementation through regular status updates and progress reports. Share key milestones achieved, challenges encountered, and plans for the future to maintain transparency and accountability.

Address Concerns Promptly

Promptly address any concerns or questions raised by stakeholders in a transparent and honest manner. Provide clear and factual information to alleviate fears, clarify misunderstandings, and build trust.

Share Decision-Making Processes

Involve stakeholders in the decision-making processes related to the ERP implementation by sharing relevant information, soliciting input, and explaining the rationale behind key decisions. This helps to build consensus and ownership among stakeholders.

Be Honest About Challenges

Be upfront and honest about the challenges and risks associated with the ERP implementation. Acknowledge any potential disruptions or setbacks that may occur and communicate proactive measures being taken to address them.

Step 6: Celebrate Milestones

Celebrating milestones throughout the ERP implementation process is essential for maintaining momentum, boosting morale, and reinforcing the benefits of change. Here’s how you can effectively celebrate milestones:

Recognize Achievements

Take the time to acknowledge and recognize the achievements of individuals, teams, and departments involved in the ERP implementation. Highlight their contributions, share success stories, and express gratitude for their dedication and hard work.

Organize Events or Ceremonies

Organize events or ceremonies to commemorate key milestones reached during the ERP implementation process. This could include milestone parties, award ceremonies, or team-building activities designed to celebrate progress and foster camaraderie.

Share Success Stories

Share success stories and testimonials from stakeholders who have benefited from the ERP system. Highlight how the new system has improved efficiency, streamlined processes, and enhanced collaboration to inspire others and build excitement about the project.

Distribute Rewards or Incentives

Distribute rewards or incentives to individuals or teams who have made significant contributions to the ERP implementation effort. This could include bonuses, gift cards, extra time off, or other meaningful rewards to recognize their efforts and motivate continued engagement.

Create a Wall of Fame

Create a “wall of fame” or digital recognition board where you can publicly acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of stakeholders. Display photos, quotes, and testimonials from individuals who have played a key role in driving the success of the ERP implementation.

Host a Thank-You Event

Host a special thank-you event or appreciation luncheon to express gratitude to stakeholders for their hard work and dedication throughout the ERP implementation process. Use this opportunity to personally thank individuals and teams for their contributions and celebrate their collective achievements.

Step 7: Harness Leadership Support

Harnessing leadership support is essential for driving alignment, providing direction, and reinforcing the importance of the ERP implementation within the organization. Here’s how you can effectively harness leadership support:

Gain Executive Sponsorship

Secure executive sponsorship from senior leaders within the organization who can champion the ERP implementation effort. Engage with key stakeholders at the executive level to gain their support, alignment, and commitment to the project.

Communicate Vision and Strategy

Clearly communicate the vision, goals, and strategic objectives of the ERP implementation to senior leaders and stakeholders across the organization. Demonstrate how the ERP system aligns with the organization’s mission, values, and long-term business strategy.

Provide Resources and Support

Ensure that senior leaders allocate the necessary resources, budget, and support needed to drive the success of the ERP implementation. Advocate for investments in training, technology infrastructure, and change management initiatives to facilitate smooth implementation and adoption.

Lead by Example

Encourage senior leaders to lead by example by actively participating in the ERP implementation process and demonstrating their commitment to change. This could include attending training sessions, using the new system themselves, and visibly supporting the project in meetings and communications.

Remove Barriers and Roadblocks

Empower senior leaders to identify and remove barriers or roadblocks that may hinder the progress of the ERP implementation. Encourage them to address resistance, mitigate risks, and prioritize actions that support the successful adoption of the new system.

Provide Regular Updates

Keep senior leaders informed and engaged throughout the ERP implementation process by providing regular updates on progress, challenges, and milestones achieved. Seek their input and guidance on strategic decisions and course corrections as needed.

Celebrate Leadership Contributions

Recognize and celebrate the contributions of senior leaders who have played a pivotal role in driving the success of the ERP implementation. Highlight their leadership, vision, and dedication to the project to inspire others and reinforce the importance of their support.

Step 8: Anticipate Challenges

Anticipating challenges is essential for proactively addressing potential obstacles and minimizing their impact on the ERP implementation process. Here’s how you can effectively anticipate challenges:

Conduct Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential challenges and obstacles that may arise during the ERP implementation process. Consider factors such as technical complexity, organizational resistance, resource constraints, and external dependencies.

Engage Stakeholders

Engage with stakeholders across the organization to gather insights and perspectives on potential challenges they foresee in adopting the new ERP system. Encourage open dialogue and collaboration to identify and prioritize key risks and concerns.

Develop Contingency Plans

Develop contingency plans to mitigate potential challenges and address them proactively if they arise. Identify alternative approaches, resources, or strategies that can be deployed to overcome obstacles and keep the implementation on track.

Allocate Resources Appropriately

Ensure that adequate resources, including budget, time, and manpower, are allocated to address potential challenges effectively. Prioritize investments in areas such as training, change management, and technical support to mitigate risks and facilitate a smooth implementation process.

Establish Communication Protocols

Establish clear communication protocols and escalation procedures for addressing challenges as they arise during the ERP implementation. Define roles and responsibilities, designate points of contact, and establish channels for reporting and resolving issues in a timely manner.

Monitor Progress Closely

Monitor the progress of the ERP implementation closely and track key performance indicators to identify any early warning signs of potential challenges. Implement regular checkpoints and reviews to assess progress, identify deviations from the plan, and take corrective action as needed.

Seek External Expertise

Seek external expertise or advice from ERP implementation consultants, industry experts, or peer organizations who have experience overcoming similar challenges. Leverage their insights and best practices to inform your approach and enhance the likelihood of success.

Step 9: Nurture Ownership

Nurturing ownership among stakeholders is essential for fostering a sense of accountability, commitment, and investment in the success of the ERP implementation. Here’s how you can effectively nurture ownership:

Promote Inclusivity

Create a culture of inclusivity where all stakeholders feel valued, heard, and empowered to contribute to the success of the ERP implementation. Encourage active participation, collaboration, and shared ownership of the project’s goals and objectives.

Empower Employees

Empower employees at all levels of the organization to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities within the ERP implementation process. Provide opportunities for autonomy, decision-making authority, and leadership development to encourage a sense of ownership and accountability.

Set Clear Expectations

Set clear expectations for stakeholders regarding their roles, responsibilities, and contributions to the ERP implementation effort. Define objectives, milestones, and success criteria upfront to provide a framework for accountability and measurement of progress.

Align Incentives

Align incentives and rewards with the successful adoption and utilization of the ERP system to motivate stakeholders to take ownership of the project’s outcomes. Recognize and reward individuals and teams who demonstrate commitment, innovation, and excellence in driving the implementation forward.

Provide Training and Support

Offer comprehensive training and support to equip stakeholders with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to effectively engage in the ERP implementation process. Invest in training programs, coaching, and mentoring initiatives to build confidence and competence among employees.

Encourage Problem-Solving

Encourage stakeholders to proactively identify and solve problems, address challenges, and seize opportunities for improvement throughout the ERP implementation journey. Foster a culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and learning to drive ownership and engagement.

Celebrate Achievements

Celebrate achievements, milestones, and successes achieved throughout the ERP implementation process to reinforce a sense of ownership and pride among stakeholders. Recognize and showcase the contributions of individuals and teams who have played a key role in driving the project’s success.

Step 10: Gather Feedback

Gathering feedback from stakeholders throughout the ERP implementation process is crucial for identifying areas of improvement, addressing concerns, and ensuring alignment with organizational goals. Here’s how you can effectively gather feedback:

Establish Feedback Channels

Create multiple channels through which stakeholders can provide feedback on their experiences, challenges, and suggestions related to the ERP implementation. Utilize tools such as surveys, suggestion boxes, focus groups, and dedicated feedback sessions to gather input from diverse perspectives.

Actively Solicit Input

Actively solicit input from stakeholders at various stages of the ERP implementation process, including planning, design, training, testing, and post-implementation support. Encourage open dialogue, transparency, and participation to ensure that all voices are heard and considered.

Listen with Empathy

Listen to feedback from stakeholders with empathy, respect, and an open mind. Seek to understand their perspectives, concerns, and suggestions without judgment or defensiveness. Acknowledge their input and express appreciation for their willingness to share their thoughts.

Analyze Feedback Objectively

Analyze feedback collected from stakeholders objectively and systematically to identify common themes, trends, and areas of improvement. Look for patterns in the data and prioritize actionable insights that can inform decision-making and drive positive change.

Implement Changes Responsively

Responsively implement changes based on the feedback received from stakeholders to address their concerns, alleviate pain points, and enhance the effectiveness of the ERP implementation process. Communicate transparently about the actions taken in response to feedback and the expected impact on stakeholders.

Provide Feedback Loops

Establish feedback loops to close the communication loop with stakeholders by providing updates on how their feedback has been received, considered, and acted upon. Demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and responsiveness to stakeholder input.

Celebrate Feedback Contributors

Recognize and celebrate stakeholders who actively contribute feedback to the ERP implementation process. Highlight their contributions, ideas, and suggestions to reinforce a culture of engagement, collaboration, and partnership throughout the organization.

By gathering feedback from stakeholders in a systematic, empathetic, and responsive manner, ERP implementation experts can leverage insights to drive continuous improvement, enhance stakeholder satisfaction, and maximize the success of the ERP implementation initiative.

Scroll to Top