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Managing Resistance to Change

10/20/2010 at 1:11 pm by

manage changeImplementing an ERP system is a major change that will register across all levels of a company, from the receptionist on up to the CEO. And, as with any change, there’s bound to be some resistance.

This could manifest as just a bit of mumbling or grumbling, or it could become much more serious. Employees may feel that their jobs – or the way they’ve performed those jobs for years – are about to be eliminated, and that’s frightening. Additionally, employees may be opposed to the amount of time and money it will cost to get the project up and running. For whatever reason, you’re most likely going to encounter some resistance to change, and the best thing you can do to handle it is prepare yourself to help the resistant parties accept the transition.

You’ve made up your mind to purchase and implement an ERP system. But not everybody is on board just yet. What can you do?

1. Start training early.

The old adage is still true: People fear what they don’t understand. Employees who aren’t sure what ERP does or what it is are guaranteed to be a bit wary, and really, that’s what makes them good employees – they’re cautious and thoughtful. Beginning ERP training early is one way to help your workers – at all levels – understand how ERP works. Once they know what the system is and how much it’ll help the business, they’re more likely to be accepting.

Early training has the added bonus of reducing the amount of time it takes the employees to learn the new system once it’s off the ground. When employees are prepared to begin working with ERP software right away, they won’t feel frustrated that they don’t know how to operate it – which will result in happy employees and a more efficient ERP system.

2. Assign an ERP core team.

People will have questions about ERP, and neither you nor your employees will be happy if you’re the only person to consult about them. Assigning a core team to manage the ERP project has a number of benefits, one of which is that it creates a go-to place for employees to head with questions and concerns. When issues can be easily and quickly explained and problems can be resolved in a timely manner, people are less likely to feel antagonistic toward the changes.

A core team can also help deal with any human resources problems that do arise. Its members can help quell employees who may be concerned about the project, and they also help ensure even the most entry-level employee that he or she has a voice in the process. The core team is made up of employees, so it makes employees feel more represented.

3. Let employees’ voices be heard.

Perhaps the most important key to managing employee resistance, should it arise, is listening to it.

Let employees have a direct say in how the ERP implementation project happens by hosting meetings where they can express their feelings directly. You can also set up an email address to which employees can send questions, concerns and complaints about the project. Providing these alternative outlets for resistance to the changes that ERP brings will mean that employees express themselves in productive, non-aggressive ways.

You may get lucky, and your ERP project might not experience any resistance at all. But if it does arise, following our guide will help you stay prepared.

How have you dealt with concerned employees during ERP implementation? Share in the comments.

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About the Author

The Sage ERP team report on various topics related to ERP and business management.

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