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How to Prepare for an Enterprise Resource Planning Software Implementation

This article focuses on the process of preparing for a software implementation.

Congratulations! You’ve already made the hard decision. You’ve done your research on software vendors, you’ve notified your IT and finance departments, and the decision makers have signed the contract. Let’s talk about the many stages you and your team will experience as your company prepares for a software implementation project. We’ve talked about the technical tips and tricks in former blog posts and you can find all the articles here including budgeting and forecasting implementation, but in this blog article, I want to cover the impact of change and how to prepare you and your team with your reactions to change.

How a person performs actions and experiences feelings in response to a software implementation matters. We’ve been told that “work is work,” and we can’t let our emotions get in the way especially in the professional realm, but how can we not? We all have emotions and change is hard. If you are in the middle of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation or preparing for one, this article is for you. I will cover eight general emotions of change and tips on handling each stage that comes your way. This is adapted from “Eight Emoticons of an ERP Implementation” in the BCUG/NAVUG H1 2019 issue, written by Kelli J. Miller, Director of IT at Crown Battery.

Stage One: Excitement

At the beginning of software implementation, most people who are involved as well as company executives are excited and amped up for this opportunity. Whether the new ERP system will make the employees’ lives easier, business will become more efficient, sales will increase, or an ineffective software system gets replaced, the company focuses its thoughts around a positive outcome. The energy is fresh, and the employees who are involved typically have time set aside to work on the project. Users provide all the information needed, and implementers eagerly accomplish their tasks. During the excitement stage, it is a good idea to ask your team what makes them excited about this project. This exercise is important because they will want to refer back to this thought and emotion when the going gets tough.

Stage Two: Optimism

The project and software demonstrations have kicked off. As the ERP team demonstrates the ERP software, details and processes are developed. Your colleagues have realized they made some assumptions and may not have asked enough questions, but at the same time, users see the software and begin to understand the details. Questions are re-addressed and everything looks like it’s been covered. At this stage, those involved remain optimistic. Keep in mind that it is totally normal for new details to emerge during the implementing process. Remain confident in the decision your company has made and the implementation team’s skills.

Stage Three: Doubt

The software demonstrations are complete and all users are beginning to understand one thing. Every department depends on another department to get their job accomplished. How many of us experience that on a weekly basis? You may notice everyone in the company is talking about their concerns regarding the project. Integration is hard work. It is only natural to question if the amount of the work is worth the benefits of the implementation project. This doubting stage is a reminder that questions are good. Only when business processes and the software are questioned are we able to make good changes, and only when we make chances, we can make improvements.

Stage Four: Uncertainty

The ERP software has been configured, and the testing has begun. Your team uses the software for the first time, and the change feels VERY real. Tasks that used to be a walk in the park are no longer easy. You may find yourself asking questions such as “I created the item, but how do I find it?” “How do I get my manager to approve this purchase order?” You’ll find some colleagues asking for help and others are determined to figure it out on their own.

Overall, your team is no longer confident that they can overcome the challenges to make the project successful. Hence, this is the uncertainty stage. When your team feels unsure, this is a time to remind them of the issues the old system caused them, and to take advantage of the support and resources the ERP team offers. This will give your colleagues the confidence of overcoming their challenges.

Stage Five: Frustration

Your team experience some success when testing the software, but there are also some issues that need to be addressed. In addition, the team prioritizes the project that the demands of their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities are piling up. Frustration sets in during this phase. It is extremely important to have the team express their frustration, but not sit in it. Once your team expresses their frustration, help them with prioritization and refocus them on project tasks.

Stage Six: Overwhelmed

A big part of the project is complete, and the team just needs to power through to get the job done. Your team may be overwhelmed because there are still some issues that need to be resolved. This is the appropriate time to encourage the team to complete one task at a time. The big picture seems overwhelming, but when you move forward one step at a time, it doesn’t seem as bad.

Stage Seven: Nervousness

The launch of the system approaches, nervousness sets in, and your team has successfully tested every aspect of the ERP software. In this stage, it is important to ensure that every item on the issues list has been resolved, and the ERP project team is available to support your team the actual day the software launches. Reinforce the team’s successes and encourage each other!

Stage Eight: Relief

Your company works out all issues and finally makes the transition. They abandon the old way of doing business and embrace the new software. They find confidence in their daily tasks and realize they are saving time with the new way of doing business. This is the relief stage. When the team moves into this stage, continue to compliment the team, acknowledge their hard work, and reward them with a time off or a bonus!

Leaders in your organization should be commended for their hard work. Charles R. Swindoll quoted “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” That could not be any truer in any software implementation. Successful projects acknowledge these stages and continue moving toward the end goal.

That is to say, these stages not only apply to ERP implementation specifically, but they also apply software implementation in general. If you are looking for a corporate performance management solution that connects to your ERP or are looking for software implementation knowledge, you can find more information in the articles here. You can also compare software such as corporate performance management tools on G2 Crowd to see which product is the best corporate performance management software for you and your company.

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