Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a form of business process management software, typically a suite of integrated applications that help a company manage its operations, interpret data, and automate various back-office processes. Implementing a new ERP system is similar to introducing a new product to the market. If the product is not handled properly, it will fail, resulting in significant business losses. Most importantly, employee time, effort, and morale will suffer as a result of the procedure.
ERP adaptations can be sure because they are imposed on the user, but, as with new products, they are not always welcomed with open arms. Marketing teams develop many ways to cross-browser test a product and present it to their intended audience; If these techniques are neglected with ERP conversions and without an appropriate testing strategy, you risk the same dissatisfied customers as well as lost productivity and time, if not employees.
End-user training is a vital success factor for every ERP adoption. End users require training in three areas: business process changes as a result of ERP deployment, training on the actual ERP solution and, most importantly, training on change management. Ineffective change management is one of the main causes of ERP failures. As a result, training on procedures and the ERP solution must be coordinated with change management training. You might argue that this is “not a testing problem”, but if you care about software quality, it’s everyone’s problem. Instead, I suggest that we address ERP conversions holistically by introducing qualified employees as change management professionals and supporting their implementation.
One approach to change management is based on the change curve developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the 1960s. This paradigm, sometimes known as the five stages of grief, can be used as a basis for understanding employee reactions and performance changes when companies announce a new ERP implementation. Changing employee emotions can be divided into three main stages based on the Kubler-Ross change curve:
Understanding these emotions enables more effective end-user training planning during ERP implementation.
Stage 1: shock and denial
Shock is the initial response to any change. The first question employees have is why. Employees may find the new concept distasteful and hope it never becomes a reality. They may choose to ignore the impending shift and continue using old methods, blind to the proposed changes. Both productivity and efficiency can suffer if not properly managed.
Employees are not yet fully aware of the implications of a move at this level. This is a great time to engage employees in a frank discussion about the challenges, delays, errors, and cost overruns of the current system, as well as explore the advantages and benefits of the new system. You should also highlight how improvements to procedures and systems will improve their work routines and make their jobs simpler. Employees must be informed about the need for change as well as the company’s goal of expansion. This is also an opportunity to offer an overview of the ERP project.
It is also important to realize that change will be difficult, but will be easier with the support and commitment of employees. This can be done through training, interactive online courses, etc. This tactic keeps the debate going while gradually coaxing employees out of denial and encouraging them to consider the new system.
Stage 2: Anger and skepticism
Employees may experience frustration, resistance, and anxiety over the unknown as they realize the reality of having to endure the new system. There is also a natural hesitation to leave their comfort zones. This usually manifests as frequent criticism of the new system, trying to show that the previous system is superior and cheaper, and questioning the efficiency and operation of the new system. Supervisors should respond calmly to all employee inquiries, and they should take the time to try to diffuse the underlying grievance.
Employees will discover strategies for transitioning to a new ERP system once they understand that change is inevitable. Employees are likely to have concerns and questions at this point. Will they be obsolete? Will their tasks and positions change? If so, will they be able to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities? What’s the point of going through all this? In what ways does it directly impact the business?
Employees need to believe that their voices are heard and that the business is responsive to their concerns. Business leaders can be designated as change agents and mentors to help individuals. Another option is to create an online forum similar to a social media group (Facebook, Teams, etc.) where employees can anonymously share their questions, opinions, and concerns. As a result of the input, management will have a better concept of how to approach change management.
It is necessary to develop a logical and organized approach to meet these challenges. Once you know what concerns your employees the most, you can begin to address those concerns through workshops, group discussions, and more. At this level, displacement can be addressed in more depth, touching on individual roles and adjustments that may be required. Employees need continuous reinforcement that their services are needed at this time, and they need to be guided and supported at every level of project implementation.
Phase 3: Acceptance and integration
Adoption is the last step in which employees are convinced that the new system will benefit them and the business. They have now started to integrate and use the new system. Employees are likely to experience frustrations and challenges as they integrate into the new system, and technical issues and queries may continue to arise. Employees may become frustrated and lose confidence in the new system if these difficulties are not addressed immediately. As a result, it is important to address problems as early as possible and provide training, guidance and encouragement.
You can have a single platform with training, troubleshooting and engagement with subject matter experts (reducing costs and duplication of work). Learning professionals who understand how people work should create online courses that mimic ERP software. Subject matter experts provide subject matter expertise, while learning experts choose the best approach to convey that information to employees, and simulation-based techniques can be used to produce engaging, dynamic, and engaging online courses.
Consider creating workshops where employees observe how the software works, have hands-on experience trying out multiple options under unsuccessful conditions, and complete tasks on their own to evaluate their experience. These free training courses can be broken down into smaller modules and tailored to the needs of end customers. Employees can then access courses or modules that are relevant to them. The program can also include a social network where employees can share their stories, voice their concerns and ask for answers. Subject matter experts and mentors should be available to follow up and answer user questions.
Any small achievements made during the implementation of the new system should be publicized through advertising, celebrations, etc. to positively encourage employees. An environment of achievement and momentum boosts employee morale, shows that their efforts are valued, and communicates the overall success of the project.
Embracing change is difficult and continuous and frequent communication is essential. Fortunately, cheap technical infrastructure exists. Even SMEs can develop workshops, interactive workshops and other tools to support simple knowledge transfer. This helps overcome the apprehensions associated with implementing a new system. Any ERP deployment will encounter issues and technological challenges. When change is managed intelligently and proactively, employees will support the effort rather than fight it.