Fall 2009
kate and stacyAs the global economy slowly shows signs of life, several of our clients are reinstating technology projects they had put on hold a year ago.  But to be realistic, the odds of making the efforts worthwhile are not in their favor.  On average, about 70 percent of all IT-related projects fail to meet their objectives. 
In this newsletter, we have a few articles that explore the people challenges that accompany technology changes.  We hope you enjoy them! 
And speaking of technology, we would be remiss if we didn't throw in a plug for our Best Practices in Change Management Computer Based Training which has already received accolades from some of the largest companies in the world!  If you are looking for a convenient and thorough overview of organizational change, check it out.  CBT Demo
Enjoy the newsletter and, as always, let us know what you think! E-mail Feedback.
All the best,
Kate and Stacy
The Change of ERP

Even smaller companies are jumping on the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) bandwagon. Sadly, the words "Enterprise", "Resource" and "Planning" really don't describe what an ERP system really is. ERP systems are complex computer software programs that integrate all functions and departments across a company onto a single system.


ERP systems bring together most if not all of the data used by an organization into one place. They link up business processes across an organization as they share information. Not every department of an organization needs to be part of an ERP system (although the more the merrier in the ERP view), but at least a few functions such as finance, the shop floor, the warehouse, or HR are usually included.


One integrated software system for people planning manufacturing runs, taking orders, and generating purchase orders for new raw materials is a powerful tool. When groups are brought together by sharing a single, inclusive software program that runs off a common set of data, they can communicate with each other and share information in ways that may be hard otherwise.


That integrated approach can have a tremendous payback if used well. Take a customer order, for example. When an order taker or customer service representative enters a customer order into an ERP system, they have information like inventory levels, credit ratings and shipping schedules right at hand. No more taking orders for items that are actually out of stock; no more taking orders from customers who are past due on payments; and no more telling customers they have to call someone else to figure out where their order is.


Although they sound great, ERP systems are not all peaches and cream. Customization to reflect a specific business can be hard and expensive. ERP systems are generally not cheap. And they aren't simple to use.


But most importantly, ERP systems require people to change how they do their jobs. And people don't like to change. If an organization pursues an ERP to improve the way work gets done, the benefits can be great. But if processes and work don't change to mirror the new system, results can be dismal. Not only can the value of a the system be minimal, but the organization can even suffer a hit to productivity and effectiveness as people work around the new system to keep doing things the way they have always done them.


The effective use of an ERP system requires a level of discipline and willingness to share information across departments. Accountability and communication are key cultural attributes in ERP environments. If an organization is not a cultural fit for ERP at the outset, the amount of change in store is even greater for people.


To overcome some of these limitations of ERP, it helps to focus on how people work. Make sure you know very clearly what will be different for each person or role in the organization. What will Mary have to do differently? What new information will she need? How specifically will she need to use the new system? What decisions will she have to make? Who will she have to interact with?


To make sure that people are ready willing and able to effectively use an ERP system give them specifics about the changes coming as soon as you know them. Demo the system so that people can see what the ERP looks like. Let people do some role-play exercises or games in the system to see what happens when they get things right versus make mistakes. Train people according to their specific roles. And create training that is based on business processes, not just the system.


Since most ERP implementations require external consultants, it's wise to separate the technical support from the change management assistance. Systems consultants generally have different skills than those required to effectively tend to the people aspects of the change.


When considering an ERP system, think about the total impact on the business - not just the new software. Consider the process changes that need to go along with the software, the culture of the organization, and the people who work there.

Reasons Projects Fail and the Domino Effect

Eve Why is it so hard to successfully implement a project, especially one with an IT component? Well, new technology causes an organizational domino effect. Increased IT capability drives different processes, different responsibilities, different roles and different working relationships. Employees usually input, access and use data differently. In other words, people need to change as much or more than the hardware and software change.


Many times it's the people's resistance to the change that trips up the project and prevents the technology from being used to its full potential. In other words, just because the system is "up" or "live" is not success. Only if employees are taking advantage of the technology's capabilities for efficiency and effectiveness should it be deemed, "mission accomplished!"


Over the past 15 years, we have worked on many ERP and other IT projects focusing on the people change. We have seen enough successes and failures to know what needs to be done to help the people of the organization transition to the new way of working. Without addressing these key elements, your project could end up a bad statistic.


When driving change, you need to consider the roles of leaders and stakeholders. You need to plan a thoughtful communication strategy and look at the support and reinforcement needed to drive results.

Leaders need to show ongoing support for the goals of the project and the people leading the project. Leaders are busy and if they have confidence in their project team, they may think their visibility is unnecessary. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They need to demonstrate their support so others can see that it's a priority for the leader and the organization.


Stakeholders need to be involved in the process from the beginning. By expanding the number of people involved in the project, you spread ownership of the effort and you learn from their experiences. In addition, no one likes surprises and by involving stakeholders, they'll more readily understand and accept future changes.


Communicate the benefits and the "what's in it for me". Think about the project from the audience's perspective. What will the new technology help them do, learn or solve? Hopefully, you can tie the project to the vision of the department or company so it's not just viewed as a technology project but as part of a larger effort.


Many areas of the organization need to work together to make sure the organization structure, reinforcement strategies and support processes are in place to position employees for success. Elements such as training, hiring, and evaluation, reporting relationships, rewards, recognition and measures need to be aligned with the new technology and business objectives.


Taking the people change into consideration is a requirement for successful IT changes. There are many resources that can help you drive successful change so give yourself the best chance at success and apply these proven principles to your project. Remember that it is the employees that will decide whether the potential benefits of the new technologies will be reached.
Q&A: In Your Shoes - Past Certified Agents
lisa humphrey
Lisa Humphrey
Senior Performance Improvement Consultant
Have you approached projects differently after the certification? If so, how? 
Yes.  I take a much more structured view now and incorporate the change interventions in my project work plan.  I encourage sponsors to allow time for change management education for team leaders and team members.  I use a mixture of previous change management information along with the new information I learned in the seminar to develop the educational sessions.  I use the change commitment curve as the basis for all change interventions and usually have the leaders and members rate themselves on the scale as we progress through the project.  I use a variety of tools from the seminar that I didn't use before.  Overall, I have a higher level of confidence in using the tools and a much stronger conviction about the importance of CM.
What advice do you have for others trying to drive change? 
Must have dedicated sponsors that stay involved during the project---not just at the kick off event.  It is very important to educate your team about the CM process-----if they cannot deal with their own change, they cannot help spread the change and support others.  Face-to-face communication is one of the most important things managers can do to support a change.  Many organizations rely upon written media and it will just never, never create the level of understanding that is needed to move up the curve.  Provide as many people as much input with the new processes as possible.  

What one thing has helped you the most in driving change in your organization?
Viewing CM as a never-ending process that is as critical as the actual process, policies, etc that you are trying to implement.
In This Issue
The Change of ERP
Reasons Projects Fail and the Domino Effect
Q&A: In Your Shoes
Change Guides News
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