1. Engage stakeholders appropriately. In my mind, change managers need to go far beyond just managing expectations, as much of the contemporary change management literature suggests. We need to actively engage stakeholders so they feel they’re part of developing the new solution. And we need to do this as cost-effectively as possible, which means a bit of triage up front to determine the one who will be most affected by a proposed solution, and of those, those that are the most powerful influencers of that crowd. It’s best if they’re kept both informed, AND excited.
2. Help employees manage workflow and mindset transitions. A company's business processes quite often need to be changed/improved to capitalize on the benefits of the new ERP technology. Employees need to understand the workflow changes (and, where possible, it helps to give them voice in saying what needs to change). Mindsets -- such as moving data entry and error correction closer to front-line operations people -- also need to change. These mindset changes are often more challenging than the workflow changes, and need to be specifically addressed, or post-implementation problems like backsliding and workarounds to the new system may result.
3. Connect people with the new work and each other. Solicit input and opinions. Set up time and space for people to connect. Great things can happen when people who don't know each other from different disciplines interact. Help people find the overlap between their personal goals and the business goals.
4. Develop, connect, and support a change agent network. An internal group of people, trained and charged with supporting the user community AND charged with sharing key learnings about change as the project progresses is critical. Often this network is a combination of HR and operations people.
5. Create organizational energy for implementation & operation. Energy helps make the implementation go easier, and the business benefits be realized sooner. Have group decisions making events where possible. Conduct celebrations after key milestones. Provide people with information and choices they normally don't have. These actions will go a long way in creating organizational energy.
6. Build capabilities for future change. Throughout the implementation be thinking about ways to build change capabilities in the organization for future changes. Maybe the change manager teaches people a new group method that people can use to facilitate a group in the future. Maybe the change manager gets people so proficient at feedback that people continually improve. Or maybe the change manager teaches a way to turn nasty conflict into productive conflict that provides a more robust solution for the group. The key is to think, “Don’t just solve this problem once.” Be more like a consultant that teaches people how to fish, rather than fishing for them. In a typical organization there are plenty of opportunities for improvement and training others, so there’s no need to hoard. The change manager who constantly teaches will often find it more rewarding than the one who consistently does the work.
These are six high leverage tips for ERP change managers that relate to directly interfacing with people related to ERP project. For six additional tips related to the work a change manager does to set up an appropriate change management infrastructure see the blog on change management infrastructure aspects.