The importance of user adoption when implementing ERP

(c)iStock.com/Dmitrii Guzhanin

Like any of new type of system or process, change management is essential when implementing ERP software. Most managerial staff are aware of this, however, there is one important aspect often overlooked or underestimated that can cause your shiny new system to fall into unraveling disarray. This aspect is human, specifically referred to in this case as ‘user adoption’.

Do not assume you know how employees work

Assuming you know the intricacies of every employee’s working day is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. As a manager, stepping away from the day-to-day activity can cause you to lose touch with the detail of how staff actively work. A successful software implementation relies on having up-to-date information of how your staff works so you know the best way to introduce staff to the solution and foresee as many obstacles and issues as possible so they can be addressed timely. Unless you sit with your staff and chip in with their daily work, it’s recommended that you shadow staff in different roles to get an idea of any challenges that may occur and identify solutions to them before implementation.

Prepare training assets in different formats

Assuming that all staff will pick up the new system and its features immediately, and learn in the same way, is a recipe for disaster. It is likely that some of your staff members are more tech savvy than others, some will embrace change more positively, and some not so much. Like it or not, you will have to tailor your training to all of these individuals.

To do so, I would firstly recommend that you ask your software vendor if they offer employee training, whether that be on-premises or by on-demand online learning academy. If the training is on-premises, account for the fact that it is unlikely 100% of your workforce will be present on the day the training is scheduled for.

If the training is in a ‘teacher-classroom’ format, you will also need to be aware that not all staff learn best in this way. Some will pick it up better from video tutorials or written guides that they can refer to as and when they need it. Try and obtain such assets from your vendor, or create your own and circulate them so they can be referred to when needed.

Some will also learn best from actually using the system, so if you can set up some dummy projects for employees to play around on, this is also a good idea.

If your vendor does not offer on-premises training, it is worth line managers learning the system in advance and delivering their own physical training sessions.

How to handle staff resistance

Some people do not respond well to change, particularly if it means more admin work for themselves, or tweaking the way they are used to working. Some staff will grumble, while others may just plainly choose to do things their own way.

The key to handling this is to understand what is causing them to resist the new system. It may be that they don’t feel confident using the software. In order to combat this issue, make it clear that any employees who are struggling can approach you for support without judgement or punishment. Create an open forum for discussion and encourage user feedback. If one user is struggling, it is likely others are too.

Promote the benefits of the new system to staff as well as management

Sometimes it’s easier to fall into the trap of only communicating the benefits of a new system to managers. By promoting the benefits of it to the entire staff, you are more likely to get them invested in the system’s success. The benefits don’t just have to be monetary, if it helps someone prove their value to the business more, or takes a boring admin task out of their daily workload, then those are both internal selling points too.

As with any organisational changes, communication is vital to ensuring success. Be transparent with non-managerial staff and support them in their transition to the new way of working. Promote change as a positive thing and address any user issues as quickly as possible.

 

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