We have recently talked to a number of organizations who are either upgrading or replacing their systems and have a number of staff members who were around for the initial implementation. In asking for their perspectives on change and system adoption, we have heard some common themes from users on how they view technology implementation.

Nearly all of the feedback we hear leads to the conclusion that organizational change management (OCM) was not handled as well as it could have been. This is the case regardless of the specific technology implemented, so whether you are implementing SAP S/4HANA vs. Oracle Cloud ERP vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 vs. any other system is irrelevant.

Following are some of the common themes we are hearing, as well as thoughts on how to mitigate potentially negative user perspective:

We were doing just fine before: This is a clear indication that the purpose of the initiative was not passed down through the organization. Prior to implementation is an ideal time to communicate or re-communicate the strategic objectives of the organization and the role that technology plays. There is no need to go into grave detail at this point, but do share some high-level clarity so the user community is aware of what is happening and why. This should be a first step in your organizational change management strategy.

They gave us “one day” to train: Everyone talks about the importance of training, but when rubber hits the road and budgets get pressed, this is one of the first areas to get trimmed. It is rarely eliminated as even the stingiest of CFOs agree that people need training, but the degree if training is generally underestimated. When budgeting for an implementation, we strongly recommend some organizational readiness work to be done ahead of time to accurately measure the level of training needed and justify adequate training in the project budget.

Nobody seemed to know what was going on and I couldn’t get any answers: Projects tend to move very quickly once they begin, and without a change agent program and network in place many users will feel left in the dust. The communication program needs to start early and change agents need to be identified and trained before the system integration work begins. An effective organizational change management plan can help mitigate this risk.

We’re still not using the system: One of the most common measures for success versus failure is system work arounds. If a majority or even reasonable percentage of people are still using old processes or creating their own spreadsheets, this is an indication of a lack of change management. There needs to be measures in place to test new processes and system adoption, as well as proper communication, training and alignment from the start.

If you are in the process of beginning or planning a digital transformation, consider carefully the up-front organizational readiness preparation that needs to be done. This is not a core competency for many organizations and is an area we recommend reaching out for help.

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