Employee Buy-In Essential for Successful ERP Implementation

The continuing viability of your business has always been dependent on a willingness to adapt to changing market trends and take advantage of new economic realities.  As a decision-maker, it is often your responsibility to advocate on behalf of fresh approaches that, at first glance, may not always appear to be in the best interests of other stakeholders in the organization.

For the purposes of this discussion, the “stakeholders” mentioned above are a vitally important segment of your business: they are your employees.

Employees as Stakeholders

A successful transition to Cloud-based ERP systems will have a profound impact on your organization’s day-to-day operations.  For legacy enterprises in particular – those who seek a balance between ERP operational efficiencies and the advantages of highly-skilled employees – the promise is matched only by the potential peril.  The path to success involves identifying clear goals, securing strong executive backing, gaining the support of the employees who have made your business a success, and partnering with a trusted ERP service provider.

From CEOs to human resources professionals to mid-level managers, almost everyone understands the importance of attracting and retaining skilled, motivated employees.  They bring new perspectives to your enterprise. They are assets that help increase its value and expand its profitability. An organization’s leadership sets the strategic direction for a business, but the employees are the ones who help the entity achieve those goals.

Conversely, those same CEOs, HR professionals, and mid-level managers also realize that employees are one of the company’s top expenses.  Employees realize this, too, and that reality is what frames the debate when the topic turns toward different options for maximizing productivity (and following any of the best practice ERP implementation tips.) 

Avoid Backlash

When an organization’s leadership considers ways to improve productivity by channeling new efficiencies, employees are most often the ones who feel the pressure – whether they are long-time personnel or those who have entered the workforce more recently and are, generally, more willing to embrace new technology.  

Faced with the prospect of being “replaced,” “outsourced,” “downsized,” or any other applicable verb, even the most loyal employees will not worry primarily about what’s best for the company.  They’ll wonder if their livelihoods will be affected and, if so, how?

Employee Buy-In Essential

In that context, what do you expect your employees to think when they hear you’re planning to implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software?  Obviously, embracing operational efficiencies that boost productivity will always be a key driver of success, but change is almost never as easy as it looks on paper.

Human beings are creatures of habit but, in a 21st Century economy, our willingness to embrace change is what will help keep us at the leading edge of our respective industries.  In that regard, ERP implementation is a logical approach for improving operations.

But leaders should also understand that even the most well-thought-out ERP system simply won’t work as advertised unless you gain employee buy-in.  Your top assets deserve to understand how ERP will improve their own work experiences.

Improved Engagement

As a tool to supplement business processes, industry experts agree that ERP systems offer substantial benefits, including:

  • Real-time access to accurate information.
  • Improved decision-making.
  • Adoption of Industry best practices
  • Optimized business processes
  • Core business automation.
  • Stronger, more responsive customer service.
  • Stronger capital position.
  • Reduction in costs

That’s your sales pitch: ERP systems offer capabilities that make employees’ jobs less unwieldy, more productive, and more rewarding.  Who wouldn’t want to reduce their time spent on mundane tasks and, instead, focus efforts on responsibilities that help the company flourish?

Help your workers understand that ERP will empower them to be more effective and simultaneously improve the overall effectiveness of business operations.  That’s a goal all stakeholders should welcome and embrace.

Implementation Phase: Employee Participation Critical

Successful system implementation benefits from employee participation in the process.  As your ERP system takes shape, make sure your workforce is involved. All employees should understand how ERP functionality is aligned with the organization’s daily operations.  Doing so will clear up any misconceptions and minimize your risk of alienating them.

Dig deep.  Simulate a work cycle with customer orders, production schedules, inventory checks, and other elements of your specific business.  And although it won’t feel natural, remember to purposely make mistakes during this testing phase to better determine the impact of potential errors and how to fix them.  That knowledge will be priceless down the line, when the system is live.

Not an “Either/Or” Proposition

Employees benefit from better information, more effective decision-making, the automation of core business operations, improved customer service and a stronger capital position.  All are the hallmarks of an effective ERP system. It is also proof – contrary to the generally-accepted narrative – that the pursuit of operational efficiency need not be a choice between people and automated systems.  

ERP software that improves an organization’s productivity and operational success is also an opportunity for workers to strengthen their position and enhance their value.  Make sure they understand what’s at stake.