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How to prepare your team for changes to your ERP system

The implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system within your business will unlock a wealth of benefits: the ability to better manage your resources, effective forecasting and budgeting, as well as ironing out inefficiencies and process friction points. These advantages, however, can only be achieved through significant changes and a coordinated approach by you and your team in accepting and implementing the required changes.

So, you considered long and hard which ERP system is right for your business, and the one you have selected ticks all the boxes that your company needs. Despite this, even the most well-suited, perfectly deployed solution will bring major changes and potential disruption with it.

You may have already read why a robust approach to change management is so important for businesses as they deploy their ERP platform. Here, we are going to take a closer look at the human aspect of change management and how to prepare your team for changes to their roles as you target ERP project success.

Woman speaking to her team about the changes in their ERP system

Appoint change leaders and project ambassadors

While everyone needs to be on board with the ERP implementation project, your whole team needs to take ownership of their responsibilities during this project, achieving this hinges upon your leadership team. Put this team together before the implementation of the project begins. Make sure to include at least one member of senior management to provide a centralised point of leadership and executive-level sponsorship for the project.

You will also need advocates at the grassroots level — experienced personnel who can lead by example, adopting and adapting to changes as and when required. These team members provide crucial points of contact for staff across the various teams and departments that exist in your business, ensuring that no one feels left behind or overwhelmed as changes are implemented.

Leaders and ambassadors need support through consistent communication

Long before the actual nuts and bolts of the project begin in earnest, a system of communication must already be in place. It is this system that will keep all parties — across all levels — informed at every step.

Define a plan for regular project management meetings and progress updates. This will provide upper management and leaders with the opportunity to deliver the latest information about the impending project to all members of your business. In addition, it gives team members the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any points of concern.

Ensure there is a set schedule and agenda for each meeting, but also devote some of the time for an open forum discussion, encouraging participation and ownership.

Make sure you assess and manage risk as part of your preparation

Some areas of your business will be hit harder than others by the changes that implementation of a new ERP solution will bring to your business. This may be because these areas of your business are made up of less experienced staff members who do not have the veteran skills and capabilities required to steer around bumps in the road; or, it may be that the implementation of the system results in fundamental changes to their procedures and operational structure.

You need to be able to identify which areas are most at risk of being hit hard by the changes ahead of time in order to be equipped to help them navigate through it. Spend time analysing the structure of your business and work out where the potential risks lie. Then, create a plan for communication and support to these areas for the duration of the project to help mitigate these risks.

Assess and manage opportunities too

Implementing a new ERP system presents many opportunities for your business. You will probably have already identified many areas in which the ERP system will benefit your organisation. Tasks that had previously fallen by the wayside or that took a long time to complete can, in fact, now be automated under the new system. This gives you the chance to free up more experienced team members who can offer support to those who may be struggling, or who can handle a task or role that is better suited to their skills.

It is important to communicate to the team that ERP implementation is a positive step for your business and one that will lead to a range of different benefits in the future. While the changes may be disruptive and bewildering on a temporary basis, this a stepping stone to a point at which life becomes easier and working practices become more efficient and effective. Communicate this to your staff as part of their preparation, and turn the positive aspects of change into key points of motivation for your team.

Analysing and documenting the areas of your business that will be significantly improved by the implementation as well as communicating these benefits will help your team anticipate the new, more positive ways of working they will experience with the new ERP system.

Provide education and support before the project begins

The solution may not be met with enthusiasm at first. This is because people have a habit of becoming set in their ways, and they may get used to the familiarity and comfort of their role. While a solution like Epicor ERP has tools to make processes and roles more efficient, how this will work may not be immediately obvious.

This is where preparation is required, and this begins with education. You’ll need to bring your whole team on the journey while leaving no areas of business or individual staff members behind.

To ensure this is achieved, support and education must be provided on many different levels, even before implementation begins. Ideally, your executive-level manager and other senior leaders should deliver general updates and information to all team members before the ERP implementation even starts. Below that, division or department level leaders should deliver information specific to their area directly to their teams, and if applicable, your business team leaders should deliver even more specific information at an operational level.

This gradient of increasingly specialised support delivered to ever-narrower groups can be continued right through to direct support on an individual-to-individual basis.

Preparing for change the right way

Unsure about how to prepare your team for a positive change in your business throughout the process of ERP system implementation? Speak to one of our experienced Epicor specialists today and discuss how the benefits of a streamlined enterprise resource planning system will outweigh any disruptions to your team.