There has never been a better time for manufacturers to embrace the powers of ERP. The benefits are compelling, be it improving efficiency, building resilience, controlling costs, or boosting productivity. Yet too many are failing to recognize that an ERP implementation is as much about people as it is technology. Ensuring that everyone within the organization is on board before embarking on an implementation is critical to its success. Regardless of the commitment of the management team, it is the buy-in from end users that really determines the success of any deployed solution.
Fear of and resistance to change is natural and a hurdle that many companies face when adopting new technologies, and ERP is no exception. Employee anxiety comes in a range of forms, be it fear that the technology replaces them, worry that they won’t get to grips with how to use it, or skepticism about what it can deliver or if it will improve what they have. Business leaders ignore these concerns at their peril. Employee wellbeing is quite rightly moving up the corporate agenda and without unilateral endorsement, the technology will never fulfill its full potential.
In some companies, that initial resistance to change can be a potent force. For instance, I recently visited a chemicals manufacturer. A lack of investment has left the business in a difficult place, with staff working with an unsupported IT system, leading to wasted time duplicating data input and a reliance on fax machines to send and receive orders. Not only is this time-consuming, but it also opens the opportunity for errors to creep into the processes.
Despite the inadequacies and inefficiencies of their working practices, the staff remains resistant to change. Many are adamant their way is best and see technology as a threat. Partnering with businesses such as this involves far more than technical know-how and product expertise. It’s a matter of people management, understanding the culture of the business, understanding the psychology of users, putting them at the heart of the process and defining, but more critically, explaining the business benefits of digitalization and what benefits it will have on their day-to-day work.
Choosing the Right Provider
Our challenge as a leading ERP solutions provider is not only to implement software but to become a trusted partner for the long term by ensuring that staff both understand how to use new technology and also recognize the benefits it will bring to their daily working life. If manufacturers are to bear the fruits of ERP adoption, they must select a provider who looks beyond product functionality to addressing the people politics of digitalization.
When making their choice, customers need to look beyond box ticking of features and functionality, to the support they will receive during and beyond the implementation.
We put people at the heart of our solution, designing user-friendly systems with tangible benefits for everyone in the business. We identify the individual customer and user needs and pain points to better tailor our offer to deliver the best result possible. A project manager is appointed to work with the customer, ensuring there are clear ownership and open and honest communication throughout the implementation.
Top Tips for Successful Implementation:
Involve your staff from the start of the process. Communicate why, how and when you will be implementing the new technology and give them an opportunity to express their views and concerns to the leadership team.
Invest in training as it empowers people to make a success of the implementation and the technology. This improves ownership, increases confidence and reduces the reliance on support.
Never be afraid to ask questions. Support is there to provide guidance if you are stuck on something, to underpin your knowledge and improve self-sufficiency in the solution. Use it!
Make a clear business case to the entire team outlining your rationale for making the investment. The team needs to understand that this isn’t frivolous expenditure on shiny new systems, but a way of future-proofing the business. Focus, for instance, on how ERP will boost your resilience in the face of Brexit and help support your strategic vision.
Make it Personal
Focus on how technology will improve individual users’ day-to-day lives. Reassure them that it is not a threat to their job but can automate mundane tasks and free them up to spend time on higher value and more stimulating work. Our project team is always happy to come and talk to users about how to use the software most effectively.
By adopting ERP, companies can grasp control of their future direction and gear up for both the challenges and opportunities ahead. Yet that requires cultural as well as technological change. Choose a provider who puts people first, focuses on the end-user experience and takes a holistic approach to digitalization.