Digitize your change management for a successful ERP implementation project

Making an ERP system a successful part of your digital transition… You can do it! Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is an information system considered the “backbone” of any company. Allowing the company to manage all operational processes and organizational information, the ERP system offers many advantages. It provides flexibility, boosts performance, and enables the optimization of costs and resources. The ERP system is an accelerator for internal processes across all departments (finance, purchasing, production, etc.).

That said, carrying out an ERP project comes with new challenges for your teams in terms of change management and adoption of the new tool. In this article, we’ll guide you through the implementation of an ERP system: what are the real challenges tied to change management? How do you successfully get teams to adopt the software? What tool can facilitate and secure the implementation of an ERP system at your company?

image personnes travaillant sur un logiciel ERP

Implementing an ERP system: the real challenges with adoption

1/ When thinking about ERP, first think about change management!

Implementing an ERP tool comes with major changes for both employees and the company itself.

For a long time, companies thought that all they had to do was train employees on the new tool to successfully implement an ERP system and achieve a good level of ROI. This is a mistake: return on investment is not dependent on how well the ERP system is used. What really matters is the revamping and transformation of processes and ways of operating.To effectively deploy an ERP tool, you must think in terms of transformation and change management.
The main goal of change management is to raise awareness, motivate employees, and get them on board in order to facilitate acceptance of new solutions, such as an ERP tool.

And that leads us to our second point: a transformation project is a human-centered adventure. You can have the best tools, the best processes, and the best configurations in the world, but if you don’t get employees on board, your gains and ROI will be negligible.

To avoid the risk of resistance to change and to get maximum support, you must prioritize the implementation of change management even before the adoption of the ERP software… And you must continually promote a culture of change!

2/ Implementing ERP software: what changes should you plan for?

We’re not going to lie: ERP software is seen as old and unappealing. Implemented by certain companies 15 or so years ago, it was often more product-focused than employee- or customer-focused. Process improvements were long neglected, affecting buy-in from employees and ROI.

Today, changes are underway thanks to new SaaS players like iValua or giants like SAP, which has moved toward SaaS mode with SAP S/4HANA.

To position your new ERP system as a cross-functional platform that adapts to the specific business needs of different employees, you should plan for several changes for ERP implementation:

  • The development of business software is not an opportunity to be limited to a single department. To make full usage of an ERP tool and to facilitate universal adoption, various departments need to be involved: production, purchasing, sales, warehouse management, and more. And of course, let’s not forget the finance department. For financial processes (accounting, cash flow management, performance management, order to cash, etc.), it’s the opportunity to carry out digitization projects: the ERP software gives you the change to take action!

    For example, for the finance department, the ERP software can help reduce the lead times for accounting period closing. However, this only works if the company pays special attention to improving processes. The finance department can also use an ERP system to speed up the processing of accounts-payable entries. By automatically matching invoices with purchase orders, time is saves and productivity and ROI get a boost!

  • As the company moves toward digitization, the ERP project should be used as an opportunity for total migration to the cloud. Such a migration affects thousands of employees, often in different countries, and it is essential to align all teams with the company’s goals. You must strike a balance between the real needs of each team and the implementation of processes in order to bring about an effective transformation.

  • The user experience must, of course, be revamped (thanks to a platform with a simplified design), but the company must also pay constant attention to improving processes:

Proper adoption of the ERP software by users is important. However, beyond adoption of the tool, it’s the adoption of new processes that will produce ROI: that’s the goal that you should never lose sight of!

What are the keys to engaging employees in ERP system implementation?

1/ Prepare to adopt your ERP software with a long-term communication strategy

The age in which new software was simply forced upon employees is over.

Today, your ERP system must fit into an “employee-centric” culture in which communication must be continuous and accompany every new development. For example, the company can rely on documented use cases or user guides to help each employee understand the new software and adopt it.

Forget about trying to get employee buy-in solely through training. For employees, you should support gradual adoption: start with a buy-in process, then an adoption process. 

2/ Implementing your ERP software while guaranteeing adoption using different mechanisms

During the implementation phase, the company must consider how to use different mechanisms to get employees on board, like…

  • A fun and positive experience: for successful adoption, think about how to give meaning to the experience for employees. Clear objectives, a continuous stream of information presented in a fun way, promoting each little “quick win,” etc. At this stage, positivity goes hand in hand with success!

  • Key indicators: to measure the project’s progress, key success indicators (KSIs) are needed. The team in charge of leading and managing the project can use the KSIs to track the internal adoption process, as well as how each person is using the new software in comparison to expected performance. These KSIs must be measurable, appropriate to the context on the ground, and shared with the people involved with the transformation.

  • Employee ambassadors: among your employees, identify leaders to serve as ambassadors! Engaged from the very beginning of the project, these employee ambassadors are key to success. By creating a company dynamic, sharing best practices, promoting concrete actions, and more, these ambassadors can strengthen employee buy-in, promote sharing, and lead the way within the company.

3/ Bring about lasting adoption of your ERP system with a continuous skill-building program

Each employee must be supported. This can be done with a continuous and progressive skill-building program. Such a program should be personalized and should take into account the employee’s level of adoption. No more complex procedures or traditional trainings, which don’t encourage real understanding of how to use the ERP system.

In addition, the program must adapt to staff turnover: a “knowledge management” system can be made available to new employees to ensure that knowledge is transferred when a person starts a new position.

Getting employees to buy into the implementation or transformation of an ERP system is one thing; getting them engaged in the long term is another. To guarantee continuous and simultaneous adoption throughout the project, we recommend that you automate each phase of the tool’s implementation.

InsideBoard, the first digital change-management platform, is here to help!

Digitizing your change management to ensure the success of an ERP project

Consider this: 75% of ERP projects fail due to a lack of change-management support for employees over time. Indeed, most projects rely on traditional approaches based on short-term strategies, top-down communications, and mass training.

It’s time to reinvent how your support your teams by digitizing your change management. With its approach combining collaborative work, a focus on the employee experience, and objective-based management, the InsideBoard digital change-management platform enables you to engage your teams via different methods at each stage of ERP tool implementation:

1/ Development of the employee experience

As soon as you start drafting specifications in advance of implementation, InsideBoard can help you identify and mobilize “key users.” This community of engaged, dynamic users will foster a sense of urgency and relevance in other employees, who will then be willingly engaged in the project.

When implementing the ERP system, the InsideBoard platform can be used to communicate with all employees and get them engaged in the project. Simple, attractive communications via social media, gamification and personalization of training, opportunities to share with the community, and more: with InsideBoard, change becomes fun.

2/ Artificial intelligence supporting adoption

With a solution like InsideBoard, the company can create a one-stop shop for training content previously scattered all over and often inaccessible to employees.

Thanks to the tool’s artificial intelligence, companies can mobilize their teams according to what their KPIs are showing.

For example, relying on unique artificial-intelligence algorithms, InsideBoard offers a smart recommendation engine for personalized courses and content (training, best practices, recommended actions, etc.) according to the employee’s level of adoption and performance.

3/ Multi-project management and overall monitoring of the transformation

Our platform serves as a hub for all transformation projects (ERP, customer relations/CRM, digital workplace, finance, etc.), offering you a comprehensive view and real-time tracking of performance.

With InsideBoard, performance indicators help you implement targeted actions according to your results for buy-in and adoption. In terms of buy-in, you can see if and how employees are reacting to best practices and content offered by the tool.

For the adoption phase, you can view KPIs for skill improvement. For example, for your finance teams: was your accounts-payable accountant able to enter all invoices without any errors thanks to the ERP system?

Finally, with InsideBoard, the company can track gains achieved and return on investment. The support provided by InsideBoard is for all employees and for the long term: by preparing them for changes in processes and in their business lines, the platform helps you successfully carry out transformation projects.

The success of an ERP project is measured in the degree of adoption by your in-house teams. True success is employee engagement.

From the finance department to salespeople, to get collective buy-in, it is essential to start a change-management approach upstream from the project.

Throughout implementation, put employees at the heart of every action… And make their adoption of the software last by digitizing your change management with InsideBoard!

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