For executives, project managers, and IT decision makers, going live with a new ERP is an exciting time. After all the planning and preparation, there’s often a great deal of optimism about the improvements a new ERP system has to offer. And, rightfully so. A well-deployed ERP system can help ease interdepartmental communication, improve efficiencies, turn data into actionable business intelligence, and enable a wide variety of other business benefits.
But often the enthusiasm for a new program isn’t shared by the users. In fact, executives are frequently surprised to find that the dominant feeling about a new system among users may not be excitement, but more negative emotions-often insecurity, frustration, and even resentment.
One of the biggest success factors for an ERP implementation project is user acceptance. It’s critical to get users active, engaged, and taking advantage of all the opportunities the new software presents. Understanding the psychology of why users may resist ERP change is key to overcoming obstacles related to user acceptance.
Consider the following 4 reasons users might hate your new ERP system and find out what you can do about it:
1. Change is scary.
New processes, new screens, new keyboard shortcuts, new menus. Trying to figure out the functionality of a new system can be challenging. It’s not uncommon for employees to quickly begin to feel insecure about their ability to master the program. A user that has been successfully completing the same tasks for years may wonder about their ability to succeed in this brave new ERP world. Worse, uncertainty and insecurity is fertile breeding grounds for resentment.
The Solution: Training.
It’s important that all users are effectively trained in the new software to inspire confidence in their ability to master the new technology. Training, unfortunately, is an area where many companies will look to cut costs-viewing it as something of a soft cost, or worse, an afterthought. A better strategy is to work with providers who can offer a train the trainer type approach to make sure that users learn what they need to, while minding the bottom-line investment.
2. Users are territorial.
Not only is change scary, but it is disruptive to old habits, workflows, and approaches. One of the core fundamental benefits of ERP is tighter interdepartmental communication and collaboration. This has a way of shifting roles and responsibilities. For instance, if sales gains the ability to easily check on inventory levels, it may leave warehouse employees who used to perform this function feeling impinged upon. Employees, looking to hold on to long-held responsibilities, may be very resistant to providing the cooperation needed to effect more broad-minded positive changes.
The Solution: Define roles.
A change in ERP systems will almost always shake things up in terms of who is responsible for what. The key is anticipating these workflow changes and communicating new responsibilities to users. An employee who understands he still has value-perhaps just in some new ways-is more likely to accept change.
3. Learning a new system can seem like an interruption.
Even with an effective training program, there will be some amount of learning curve to get going with new software. It’s in our human nature, of course, to want to be valued-and the way we secure our value in the workplace is through our productivity. Anything that threatens that productivity is easy to see as, well, a threat.
The Solution: Sell the benefits.
It’s important to make the long-term perspective visible. Yes, getting up to speed will take some time, but if the software has been carefully selected and properly deployed, it should present an opportunity for users to ultimately increase productivity. Identifying the benefits of new software both from a broad-view and at the task specific level will not only help users understand the reason for the interruption, but help get them on the same page about expectations in terms of how to maximize the value of the ERP investment.
4. Users may resent not being included in the needs-analysis process.
Make no mistake about it. Your employees and system users feel like they are the experts in terms of their particular areas of responsibility. And, guess what? They’re probably right. After all, who understands the functional process of, say, order submission-including existing efficiencies and inefficiencies-better than the individuals directly submitting orders. An employee who has worked hard to gain functional expertise in an area, but hasn’t been consulted on optimizing it, is an employee that’s very likely to begin questioning their significance within the organization. Among other things, that’s likely to manifest as a less than desirable attitude toward the new software.
Solution: User involvement in process evaluation.
Involving users in defining the processes the software should address will certainly help foster acceptance and maybe even excitement for the new software. Important as that is, though, it’s not the core benefit of soliciting user input. While executives are best-suited to make sure a new system is in align with top-level business objectives, much of the most important knowledge of how to improve processes and efficiency is held by the users themselves. Surveying users is a critical step to ensure that your company is seizing on all improvement opportunities.
By Adam Bluemer, www.FindAccountingSoftware.com