When embarking on a digital transformation or ERP implementation, it’s easy to focus on the things you can see, touch, and feel. Things like software configuration, process maps, and training documentation are very real and tangible, so people rarely question their value.
But it’s a different story when it comes to organizational change management strategies. Change is harder to see, touch, and feel, so we sometimes tend to underestimate its importance. This challenge is further magnified by the fact that employees are often excited about potential changes at the start of project. By the time signs of resistance begin developing later in the project, it’s often too late to address those challenges.
To add to the ambiguity of change, people often limit their view of change management to things like training or employee communications. Again, these are things that are easier to see and understand. Things like organizational readiness, stakeholder assessment, and culture are more difficult to grasp.
Of all the things that may derail your project, culture is one of the most intangible and hardest things to understand. If you have worked at a company for an extended period, you may not even understand how your company’s culture compares to others. Even if you are new enough to a company to more clearly define it, culture’s impact on your overall digital transformation is difficult to understand.
Culture is something that needs to be taken into account from day one. It needs to one of the evaluation criteria for your new enterprise technology. For example, choosing SAP S/4HANA vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has significant implications on your organization’s culture. If you are trying to standardize operations, an SAP S/4HANA implementation may be a better fit, while a more decentralized culture and operating model might be better enabled by Dynamics 365.
During planning, your culture needs to be taken into account as well. If you are planning for a massive culture change – such as migrating from a decentralized to a more centralized shared services model – you need to account for the time, resources, and change management activities to enable the cultural change. This ultimately needs to be factored into your overall implementation plan, budget, and resource plan.
During your actual digital transformation, you will want to include an organizational change workstream dedicated to cultural change. Think of this as a critical path activity that will help pave the way for the business process and technological changes being introduced to your organization.
Here are some examples of organizational changes that can help enable the type of culture you are trying to migrate to:
Notice that these factors and examples all affect how your technology and business processes are deployed as well. If you don’t address these key cultural issues, it is quite likely that your project will become misaligned and fail to deliver the future-state expected of your organization.
You may be thinking, “but I want to change my culture anyway,” or perhaps “but new technology will drive cultural change for me.” These are misguided approaches to dealing with this challenge. Culture needs to be dealt with head on and deliberately. It should be a key component of your overall digital transformation and organizational change strategy.
Learn more by downloading our white paper 20 Lessons from 1,000+ ERP Implementations.