Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said that “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” What does this have to do with your ERP implementation?
A workplace study shows that approximately 86 percent of employees and executives cite a lack of effective collaboration and communication as a reason for failures in the workplace. In order to help ensure success for you ERP implementation, it’s important to get your employees onboard early and help them to be part of the process. The more excitement employees have in industry changes, the more likely they are to utilize the changes.
How can you communicate early and effectively? Here are a few ideas.
- Communicate from the very beginning
Begin communication as early as possible. ERP implementations take a long time and can cause a good bit of disruption. Help your staff to be mentally prepared for this undertaking. Even if you don’t have all the answers yourself, let your employees know that they will be receiving updates along the way.
- Communicate often an in various ways
Employees need a good understanding of the changes that are happening in the workplace. They are often the ones that the changes impact most. Therefore, to just regurgitate a bunch of facts from a website and expect them to have enthusiasm and comprehension is asking too much.
Communications regarding your ERP implementation should begin early and be written and paced in a way that will not overwhelm your team. Begin with telling them what the system does and why it is necessary for your enterprise. Consider tailoring messages to individuals or to specific departments about what the system can specifically help them do and how processes will change in a positive way. Discuss the various benefits to the organization as a whole but also for the individual. And, involve them in ERP-related conversations, and get their input wherever it makes sense; this helps to build confidence and buy-in.
When possible, find ways other than email to interact with your staff. Consider holding small group meetings as well as town hall meetings, allow for question-and-answer sessions, or announce a place for staff to ask questions or offer feedback.
The most important thing, though, is that your staff understand why the change is necessary and that they, too, are an integral part of that change. It isn’t necessary to begin with the technical aspects until you have employee buy-in.
- Add an easily accessible FAQ place for employees to obtain answers themselves
It’s important to have somewhere your staff can go to ask questions that isn’t an email or having to wait for the next meeting. Having a point person on your project team will be great for this, but there should be a living document as well so that if this person is unavailable or if he/she also can’t remember something said at a meeting a few weeks ago, the information exists in a specific, easy to access place, either online or via hard copy. However, keep in mind that should you print hard copies, you will more than likely need to continue to revise as the implementation goes on.
- Repeat and repeat some more
For a project as big and intricate as an ERP implementation, a little repetition will not hurt anyone. Keep the updates or messages simple and coming on regular intervals, and don’t be afraid to repeat the information from previous messages to ensure your employees remember things like timelines or important facts. Many of the members of your staff won’t be heavily involved in the implementation, and due to this separation, they will easily forget things from one email to another.
- Use your listening ears, too
Take into consideration that many of us are not comfortable with change, especially change that involves great technology. A large percentage of people worry that technology or AI will make them obsolete in their position. A recent study showed that almost 69 percent of college graduates were concerned that technology would easily replace their current positions.
Be sensitive to this as well as to the fact that some people pick up on technology’s uses faster than others. Each employee will differ in his/her concerns or questions.
This goes back to making sure your employees have a firm understanding of what the technology offers and why you are implementing it. Also, be clear on why the company needs this change and exactly how will it impact the individual. Being upfront will earn a lot of trust, and trust goes a long way.
The bottom line is that even the best technology cannot function without a good team to put it into practice. Upfront and early communication is important; answer questions, listen intently to concerns and feedback, and ensure everyone is on the same page about your ERP implementation.
If you need help getting your team on board, Godlan’s team of ERP consultants will happily assist you in making a communication plan as part of your implementation. We know that if employees aren’t confident with the technology, they won’t use it, and that means an ERP implementation failure. Let us help you avoid that. Visit www.Godlan.com to learn all about Infor’s SyteLine ERP systems, or call 586.464.4400.