Help with my Masters Thesis on Organizational Change Management needed for successful ERP implementation!
I'm doing my Masters thesis on organizational change Management for ERP success. Please advise what you think about Implementation strategy, change mgmt, process re-engineering, knowledge Management being important factors those should be used in a company for successful and efficient implementation of ERP. Please give work related examples where you felt companies should undergo some organizational changes within for better ERP results and how do these factors help in successful ERP implementation? Thanks a lot!!
I am in the process of implementing openERP for my very young company. I think that both has to be used for a "successful" or easy implementation. The company has to adapt its working to the ERP which will after all a central part of the firm. But where possible the ERP has to be adapted to the proven and successful ways the company operates.
For the first statement, it is very important to select an ERP which corresponds best with the companies way of working and the branch it is in. If the ERP supports in its native state the field of operation, that will be a great benefit.
The second means one needs professional help to "force" the ERP to do certain procedures in my way.
My way of implementing openERP is to start slowly. I first set up only two suppliers and a handful of products. Working with them I found I needed to install a couple of extra modules. When I found that I needed extra fields, there are ways to do so. And when this worked, I switched all the purchasing to openERP. At the moment I am doing the same with customers, quotations, pricelists and so on. Working with only two customers makes changes easy and painless.
When organizations implement a modern ERP system, they sometimes rely on older systems. These older systems are typically not used by the management of the company and most of the time they rely on Excel sheets, some old guy from the IT department can export. But this also means these numbers are not always uniform (people are not always talking about the same thing) and to organize things, management ends up with the "management by email" syndrome.
If you detect this disease in a company, it might be interesting not to focus on the entire implementation (anti-pattern), but to suggest to start with a small project that management and key users can use for a particular part and that shows the gains of going towards a new ERP system: project management and crm combined with OpenChatter are good examples. They will typically target the management by email syndrome and at a meeting, people will at least be able to present e.g. the Kanban view to show the different stages of the things that need to be done in a consistent manner.
It is of key importance that your users understand why they should have a modern ERP including management and a small project to start with, gives your ERP implementor and yourself the chance to get to know each other and to give growth to the ever important Business-ICT alignment. In the other case, you end up with a bunch of users panicking about a feature they should absolutely have because it is in their business today. By starting with a small project however, you can change the management vision that everything IT should be outsourced to the IT department and they do not necessarily have anything to do with it and in the end they will be able to develop a vision key users can understand.
If you think about it, OpenERP supports this better than any other system in the marketplace.
In my own (limited) experience I've found that when implementing ERP systems I always try as much as possible to model the system after the client's current business patterns. Implementing a new system is always going to come with a certain amount of friction, especially in environments where the IT literacy rates of much of the staff are low. I think that the last thing you want to do in such a situation is to add yet more complexity by changing business patterns that probably are routine to the employees.
That is not to say that an organization shouldn't change it's processes with the introduction of a system as complex as an ERP. They should, just that they may need some time to adapt to the new system. Already by setting up OpenERP, you enforce some new routines (logging into OpenERP every morning, etc). If you try to add more new routines it's likely that productivity rates drop drastically and you find yourself tarred, feathered and run out of town.
I can imagine that the time required to adapt may depend on several different factors, such as what part of the world you are in (business climate, levels of technology, etc), average age of the employees, whether or not the employees are made to feel a part of the ERP implementation, etc. Previous experiences with a reasonably complex system may be an advantage, but might also be a disadvantage as the staff may already have spent a lot of time learning a system and therefore reluctant to start a new learning process. But all this is just speculation, as I don't have any real numbers to back any of this up with, although it would be interesting to see the results of any such study.
I think that in many cases the client themselves realize, given a bit of time, that certain processes need to change in order to take better advantage of the new system. And when they don't you can always help them along a little bit. I've dealt with clients where the accountant insisted on continuing to use Excel. And I will agree, but suggest that why doesn't he or she also use OpenERP? Given a little bit of time they usually realize that doing accounts with a spreadsheet can be a little tedious, and using two solutions in parallel definately is tedious and before you know it, they are using only the ERP.
I should add that I live in a part of the world where few companies, apart from the banks, really use IT systems at all. It is only now that more companies are getting interested in implementing more complex software solutions.
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