Change Management and ERP

    9/15/21 10:00 AM

    change-management-erp

    Let’s figure this out

    I like figuring things out. It’s a simple statement, but now that I’m older, and yes, a bit wiser, I see that this desire to figure things out has been the driving factor behind many of my traits. From an early age, I made stuff. I’d see something that looked cool and would figure out how to make it. Scrap wood, a saw, and some nails would result in some sort of toy. I completely disassembled and re-assembled my bike to see how it was put together. As I got older, I tackled bigger projects. My first car was free because it needed a transmission. I figured out how to remove the old transmission, bought one at a junkyard, and put the “new” one in. It worked! It was the ugliest car you ever saw, but to me it was a triumph. I drove it with pride.Figuring things out didn’t stop with the mechanical. I’ve observed people (including myself), processes, and organizations for many, many years trying to figure out what they’re made of. Here is what I’ve learned: Mechanical things are easy, people are not. Machines don’t have personalities, feelings, habits, or resistance to change. If a machine is broken and you fix the problem, it’s not broken anymore.

    People create a unique challenge

    Fixing people, processes, and organizations are a much different challenge. Yes, the root problem still needs to be identified. Yes, a solution still needs to be developed and tested. But here is the difference: The solution needs to be accepted and adopted by people, which is the entire goal of change management. Mechanical things don’t decide whether to accept the fix or not. People, however, can decide not to accept the solution. I realize this statement won’t be breaking news to anyone, but I’m emphasizing it because only recently have I taken this knowledge to heart and fully appreciated how it plays out in an organization.

    People refusing to adapt a solution is frustrating. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why others weren’t embracing the obvious solution to the obvious problem. Then I started figuring it out. There is no quick answer on how to address internal resistance to change, but there is a methodology on how to minimize its effect.

    The solution: A Tiger Team

    The first thing that needs to be recognized is problems aren’t obvious to everyone. People tend to accept solutions when they feel the pain of the problem, and the solution reduces or eliminates that pain. But what if an employee must make a change to prevent a problem for someone else? If the employee doesn’t feel a shared purpose; they don’t see the bigger picture beyond their day-to-day tasks. In this environment, adaptation to change can be very low.

    Your ERP is an integrated system. However, most of our customers don’t have an integrated team managing an integrated system. They have a “super user,” or maybe a few of them. These users influence the department they work in. That’s not an integrated team.

    I’m a big fan of knowledgeable users, but there needs to be a structure set up to harness that knowledge, amplify it, and harmonize it. That structure is called a Tiger Team.

    Building a Tiger Team

    A Tiger Team is made up of a representative from each major department in the organization. (For example, Finance is a major department, while A/R and A/P are subsets of Finance.) The person representing a major department either is, or needs to become, a subject matter expert (SME) for that department’s use of the ERP system.

    If someone isn’t currently an ERP SME, how do they become one? They actively learn. We can provide training. The SME can read through help files on the areas of the ERP software their department uses, talk to other employees, and attend user conferences. And it goes without saying that a future SME’s curious attitude goes a long way.

    Related: VISUAL ERP User Conference

    Related: CloudSuite Industrial/SyteLine User Conference

    Related: Infor User Conference

    Besides being a curious, active learner, members of the Tiger Team should be:

    • Believers in systems and processes
    • Eager to learn how to use the toolset to solve problems
    • Understanding of the limitations of systems and people
    • Aware of the limits of their own knowledge
    • Comfortable accepting help

    Basically, you need a team of people who like to figure things out.

    After you assemble a group of SMEs with the right traits, here is what the Tiger Team is responsible for:

    • Meeting on a regular basis (recommended weekly)
    • Setting an agenda of issues that need to be resolved
    • Defining resources to resolve the issues
    • Documenting and implementing the solutions

    Here is an important best practice to remember: As the Tiger Team discusses problems and proposed solutions, there needs to be an ERP expert involved. Over time, as the Tiger Team’s knowledge grows, they are the experts. But until the team gets to that point, or if there is an area of functionality they are unsure of, involve an ERP consultant in the discussion to be confident the solution is the right one. We have heard many “fixes” over the years that were overly complicated, just wouldn’t work, or made the problem worse.

    That’s why it’s important the members of the Tiger Team are self-aware and are comfortable getting help.

    Harmony and amplification increase adoption

    What does a Tiger Team have to do with change management and getting employees to accept and adopt solutions, you may ask? Let’s revisit why employees resist change:

    • People tend to accept solutions when they feel the pain of the problem, and the solution reduces or eliminates that pain.
    • Employees don’t feel a shared purpose; they don’t see the bigger picture beyond their day-to-day tasks.

    The Tiger Team addresses problems as an integrated team. All members of the team understand and can articulate the issue, and how that issue affects the entire organization. This means they will be more successful educating their department on the problems, which is what I call amplifying the message.

    Their message is also harmonized. Each member of the Tiger Team is educating their department with the same message. This leads to a combined sense of purpose.

    Taken together, the effect of amplification and harmony humanizes the problem and solution. There is an understanding across departments of what the problem is and who it affects, down to a name or names of people. There is a shared understanding of how the solution helps everyone.

    I’m not suggesting the Tiger Team method is a foolproof change management tactic. But it does significantly move the needle in the right direction; and that builds momentum in the right direction.

    If you need help figuring all of this out, we can start with a free 30-minute consultation.

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    Jack Shannon

    Written by Jack Shannon

    Jack is the President of Visual South and has been working with the product since 1996 when he bought it in his role as a Plant Manager. Since 1998 he has worked for Visual South with roles in consulting, sales and executive management.