How to Create a Change Management Plan for Your S/4HANA, D365, or Oracle ERP Implementation

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: September 18, 2019

ERP systems have changed a ton in the last 20 years, but the keys to successful ERP implementations has changed very little. Yet too many people still don’t understand these keys to ERP success.

While products such as SAP S/4HANA, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle ERP Cloud, and other top ERP systems are changing at breakneck speeds, most ERP implementation approaches have remained stagnant. Mistakes of the years past continue to repeat themselves.

Changes in technology, disruptions in industries, and the role of change management

This is especially true for the people side of the equation. People haven’t changed nearly as much as ERP software has, which is why effective S/4HANA, Oracle Cloud, and D365 change management plans are so important. If anything, this widening gap between technology and human behavior has reiterated the importance of change management.

While technology is changing, industries are also being disrupted. Business models are changing. Organizations and their teams are changing not because they want to, but because they have to. The magnitude of disruption varies from industry to industry, but very few are insulated.

For example, this whiteboard video highlights the concept of the ERP implementation vs. business transformation gap, as well as how to navigate it based on your unique situation:

The one way to mitigate this quickly changing landscape it through effective organizational change management. In fact, an increasing focus on change management is one of my top predictions for the ERP software industry in 2020.

Here are a few tips to create an organizational change management that best fits your situation and your particular S/4HANA, D365, or Oracle ERP transformation.

Understand that the S/4HANA, D365, and Oracle Cloud ERP systems are not fully developed, which leads to employee and project team frustration

The first step is to acknowledge that you are trying to implement an incomplete ERP system. The cloud solutions being rolled out by vendors are largely incomplete, with missing functionality and other deficiencies that we haven’t seen with past legacy products.

This is wreaking havoc on employees and end-users – while increasing the odds of operational disruption – which ultimately falls on the change management team to mitigate. It is much easier to mitigate these risks before they materialize via an effective change plan.

Assemble a global S/4HANA, D365, or Oracle ERP change management team

You will need a global change management team to help enable S/4HANA, D365, or Oracle Cloud in all parts of the world that you operate. These change agents, potential trainers, and other stakeholders will be key to ensuring that change is affected not only at the home office, but out in the field on the front lines.

It is important to train and equip them to be effective in their change roles. PROSCI and other change management methodologies should comprise the critical components of your global organizational change management strategy and plan.

Change impact and readiness assessments are the foundation to effective S/4HANA, D365, and Oracle Cloud ERP change management plans

Companies too often overlook this critical component of organizational change. Without an understanding of how exactly people will be impacted, who will be impacted and when, we can’t develop an effective change strategy. And without an effective change strategy, our project will fail. This is why it is important to leverage a technology-agnostic change plan outside the scope of your systems integrator.

Define end-to-end and cross-technology business processes and workflows

Given the gaps in current SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft ERP systems, there is a high likelihood that a good portion of your end-to-end business processes will cross into other systems and manual processes. For this reason, it is critical that these processes are well-defined and documented. This is an important prerequisite to ensuring that your organization is aligned on how to execute these processes going forward.

Canned, classroom, train-the-trainer approaches are a thing of the past, so use other change tools

The train-the-trainer ERP training approach has run its course. It may have (sort of) worked 20 years ago when there weren’t many alternatives, but it has proven to be highly ineffective in recent years. Add the fact that canned vendor training materials are typically incomplete and irrelevant to your organization, and we find a perfect storm of ineffective training tactics.

More effective are providing a variety of training and communication tools. We provide a number of technologies to our client and project teams to help them tailor their training and change materials to their operations, so feel free to contact me to discuss ideas.

Benefits realization is where S/4HANA, D365, and Oracle ERP value becomes reality

Change management covers the “soft” part of transformation, but benefits realization is where those soft changes become tangible and real. Change management efforts should focus on how to translate desired behavior into tangible performance results rather than just changing for change sake.

Even if you are replacing your ERP system because you have no choice, creating a benefits realization plan is still critical. This will help ensure that you have the project governance and controls in place while ensuring you maximize the investment in your digital transformation.

Conclusion: Change management is the key to success

Your S/4HANA, D365, or Oracle ERP Cloud project will fail without effective change management. This has always been the case, but is even more true in today’s ERP systems landscape. Change management as we know it may be dead, but it doesn’t mean you should neglect it.

As always, please feel free to contact me to arrange a time for an informal conversation about your S/4HANA, D365, Oracle ERP Cloud, or another ERP implementation. My team and I are happy to leverage our team’s experience with our global client base and act as a sounding board as you continue your journey!

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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