Congratulations! Your business has grown and you’ve decided to implement a cloud based ERP system to help you manage and streamline your data and core business processes. Your new cloud-based technology is going to change everything—and we mean everything. While this is great news for your operations (and employees!), your workforce has to navigate a steep learning curve and the path to open hearted system adoption isn’t always a smooth one.
That’s why we’re offering these tips to help ensure you attain early buy-in from your employees and keep them engaged through the implementation process.
1. Mind the Time
Right off the bat, it’s critical to have a realistic project timeline to share with key employees. If this is indeed your company’s first experience with an ERP system implementation, you’ll quickly learn that it’s a complex undertaking with many moving parts. Your system won’t be up and running right away and changes won’t happen overnight, so don’t underestimate the value in actively managing users’ expectations.
In their white paper, Implementation Tips from the Trenches, Technology Evaluation Centers asserts that the most common ERP implementation problem companies face is time management. Even, we’ll add, when implementing a cloud-based solution, which tends to be faster and easier to deploy. NetSuite reports that their average customer is typically able to implement its ERP system within three months—much less than the on-premise ERP implementation industry average of a year and a half.
Understanding the scope of the project—and putting in the time required to put all the pieces into place—will help ease system users “bide their time” until they can jump in and start using their tools. It helps todedicate a resource, such as a project lead, to ensure you’re staying on track—and on task—so you’re adhering to your timeline.
If you’re upgrading to the cloud—and this isn’t your first time implementing an ERP system—don’t miss 4 Tips for a Painless ERP Solution Replacement.
2. Set Up a Cross-functional Power User Planning Team
When it comes to leveraging employee resources for a successful deployment, it’s a best practice to form an ERP implementation team comprised of people from all departments to lead the project. While your CEO, owner, or president should be your “champion”—on-hand to support adoption by ensuring everyone knows that the new system is essential for growth and business stability—you’ll need more than sign-off from the C-Suite to prepare the workforce for the changes they’re about to experience. The new ERP system is going to impact virtually every functional area of the company—they’ll be tapping into data from the same source and they’ll be working with brand-new processes and procedures—and interdepartmental collaboration and cooperation are vital for planning, deploying, and using the new tools.
Technology Evaluation Centers offers three particularly helpful bits of advice:
- Remember that an ERP implementation is not simply an IT project: it’s an enterprise-wide business solution project and all the applicable areas should be involved in the project.
- Choose implementation team members who “show a passion for systems,” understand their department inside and out, and are willing to see where they can align their processes within the new system.
- Try to keep your team to no more than 12 people, as larger groups tend to can slow down the decision making process.
Find out if any of the points in The 5 Risks of Using An Outdated ERP Solution resonate with members of your implementation team.
3. Promote the Advantages of Your New System
You and your power users have an intimate knowledge of how your new ERP system is going to transform your business for the better—but there are likely employees in your ranks who prefer to do things the way they’ve always been done. They may not recognize that you’re implementing new technology to help drive future growth—that the new way of managing data and processes is essential to meeting company goals like acquiring new customers, improving vendor relationships, and getting a better handle on cash flow.
Early in the implementation process, invite all employees to share their pain points with the “old way” of working—and explain how the new ERP system is going to alleviate them. If some employees are satisfied with the status quo, share with them how automation, for example, will make their jobs easier and free up their time to focus on more strategic, business-boosting activities and projects.
This is where it’s helpful to leverage members of the implementation team, who can talk with people in their department about how the new system is going to positively impact them, helping them to understand how and why the technology change is going to benefit every person in the organization—even them!
Explore more change management ideas in 10 Factors That Ensure a Successful ERP Implementation Project.
4. Support Their Trip Around the Learning Curve
Your employees’ daily work life is about to change, so ease them into their new responsibilities. In addition to touting the benefits of their new ERP system, frequently communicate practical information about project news and milestones give them plenty of guidance with respect to new workflows and procedures. Your communications may come in the form of:
- Departmental meetings to share information and solicit feedback
- One-on-one meetings to address deep-dive issues
- Hands-on training to ease employees into their new tools
- Emails containing videos, downloads, or other content for on-demand learning
You’ll want to give employees ample opportunities to ask questions, share feedback, and even celebrate achievements. Depending on your employees’ needs and preferences, do what it takes to ensure their new ERP system provides a positive experience, every step of the way.
5. Lean on Your Implementation Partner
Take advantage of everything your ERP system implementation consultants have to offer. From making sure your project is scoped properly to helping to support employees-turned-users, they’re experts on both the technology and the process of getting it up and running. Learn more Choosing an Implementation Partner Who Can Manage Your Expectations.
Considering implementing an ERP system? Is a cloud-based ERP solution right for your business? We can help you assess your needs and ensure the right system gets puts in place to take your business to the next level. Contact us to learn more!
Additional ERP Resources
3 Reasons To Put Your ERP System in the Cloud
Managing Data During an ERP Implementation