Pretty much anyone who speaks of their past experiences with an ERP implementation jokes about hair loss, weight gain, insomnia, irritability, etc. Essentially, it STRESSED THEM OUT. In fact, this is a key finding from our 2019 ERP Report.

My question is, why do we let this happen? We’re not going to answer this question without breaking down human psychology, which is even more kludgy than an ERP implementation, but rather talk about how we can manage the stress that a digital transformation ultimately causes.

When feeling overwhelmed during your transformation, consider the following:

You’re Not Alone: Misery loves company, and so does stress from an ERP system. Regardless of your specific role in the project, your entire company and all of your coworkers are going through the same project and have the same general objectives. A great ERP organizational change management initiative is simply to talk to other people to share thoughts and feelings, and this can also help relieve the stress of individual responsibility.

Looking outside your own organization, ERP is everywhere. There are websites, chat groups and probably conference lines that cater to people going through technology transformations. You can vent, share ideas and get a sense of understanding.

Timelines are NOT set in stone: Ideally, you will define a realistic implementation time and budget for your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft D365 (or other ERP) transformation, but this doesn’t always happen. Your executive team and system integrator might not immediately understand this concept, but pushing timelines out to a realistic extent is rarely a terrible idea. This may take some work on its own, but if you can make a large number of peoples’ jobs and lives easier by extending a timeline, do it.

If tasks are whelming up to a point that it is becoming unbearable, you are likely not alone (and if it is just you, then reconsider the project plan and associated roles/responsibilities). Work with your independent ERP consultants to structure a realistic approach that won’t crush the people in the company who are responsible for success.

There is light at the end of the tunnel: There is good reason your organization is implementing ERP. There are benefits to be gained, processes to be streamlined and best-practices to be adopted. Keeping focus on the positives of where you are heading can help counter any stress caused by the implementation process. Take a look at the project vision statement and the business case, and remind yourself you are doing a good thing.

Having an ERP implementation under your belt is a strong resume builder: The days of sticking with the same organization from graduation to retirement are pretty much gone. I respect those that can do it, but they are far and few between. Having the experience of an implementation on your resume will help significantly if you ever decide to make a move.

Look outside technology-focused recommendations: Take a walk, do yoga, get a massage or whatever any doctor recommends for stress relief. If you’re in the middle of a 3-year implementation, don’t skip your family vacation just because of an “important” meeting. Reward yourself and your team for reaching milestones and try to enjoy the ride.

Given that the success of an ERP implementation or digital transformation rides on the success of individual contributors, we can’t “stress” enough the importance of setting your stride and not letting an ERP implementation stress you out. Less stress = success!

Brian Potts

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