Guest Blog: Creating an ERP Change Management Plan

Adopting an ERP only secures gains like improved efficiency or greater flexibility if your team actually uses the software when management stops looking. The best way to achieve this is to have a change management effort that ensures your ERP selection is providing real-world benefits by making processes smoother.

In this piece, we’ll look at change management from the Deming cycle of PCDA (plan, do, check, adjust). It is an overall management method that many companies use in other areas, even if they don’t know the Deming name. So, it’s often a natural fit for starting and creating management plans.

Plan: Determine needed and desired changes

Your ERP will have a major impact across your whole operation, changing a variety of processes and outcomes, and even products in some cases. Reviewing ERP functionality and the impacts you want to make in your company will give you a clear path forward for what change needs to be managed.

Review the ERP’s impact and where any changes may occur – if it is duplicating functionality, your plan should identify which is the preferred option for managing that functionality. Match each change that the ERP will create to a specific benefit and a leader. Keep this map handy.

Review it for as many aspects of your operations as possible. Use this outline for admin-level considerations as a guide.

Do: Outline a framework of how things will change

Your map of changes to processes and other elements will guide the way you look at changes. For your second step, it’s time to look at the real-world impact of adopting an ERP. How will the new system truly change the way people do their jobs? Does it shift the way tasks are handled in planned or new ways?

Take your list of planned impacts and define the related processes for them, indicating what changes with each ERP you’re considering. Vendor selection will have a lot to do with this iterative step, especially in later cycles, but you can start here make sure your wish list of changes is meeting your needs.

Expand your framework to as many touchpoints as possible. If your ERP reduces manual data entry, it might change your workforce needs or allow you to become more efficient. Management may then get different dashboards or must make different decisions to optimize your workforce.

Check: Review the impact and goals

In the third step to creating your ERP change management plan, you’ll want to review steps one and two before you go any further. Sort back through the improvements that you need as well as those you want. Check if the framework you defined will truly address those needs and if anything is being left out of your operations.

You likely ran those first two steps, so number three will help you embrace the golden rule of successful change management: communicate early and often.

Bring in outside people to review your plans and framework, so you’re capturing all the right elements around onboarding, planning, system requirements, and more.

Now that you’ve reached the end of step three, go back to step one. The “adjust” section of Deming for change management is that you keep running through the first steps until you get to a point where the “check” operation doesn’t give you any changes or bring up unanswered questions.

Bonus step: Ask your vendor

Sometimes, you’ll find that a vendor offers change management support or programs as part of their overall system training. This can be a significant boon in the world of ERP, where your team is likely learning a mix of new technologies and new practices.

Ask vendors what they can do to support your efforts in ERP adoption for both system users and your management team.

This article is a guest blog from Geoff Whiting of ERP Focus. Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development.