Improvement strategies, such as ERP implementation, oftentimes contain change. Hence, responsiveness after internal customers is crucial for an organization in order to avoid the difficulties related to this change. To aid top management including the complicated organizational problem on worker’s resistance according to ERP implementation, it is recommended an integrated, process-oriented conceptual frame component concerning 3 phases knowledge formulation, strategy implementation, and status evaluation.
Knowledge formulation phaseThe first step in effectively managing change introduced by IT is to identify and evaluate the attitudes of individual users and influential groups. This analysis should address such questions as:• Who are the resisting individuals and/or groups? What are their needs?• What beliefs and values do they have?• What are their interests?The answers to these fundamental questions may offer a good starting point in determining the sources of employee’s resistance to the ERP system.Employee-raised facts, beliefs, and values are strong indications over what may cause their resistance after change. This should properly be applied after the context concerning implementing an ERP system. For example, some users may raise issues about their computer illiteracy, or may say that they have spent many years doing an excellent job without help from an ERP system. Other users may develop beliefs that their jobs will be threatened by the new system, or that they will not know how to do the job within the scope of such a system.
Yet another group of users may stress values such as the importance of existing power and authority structures, which may be jeopardized by the new ERP system.Strategy implementation phaseManagement can use this knowledge of potential users from the prior stage to set up strategies that can best brush off user’s resistance to the ERP system, and to convince as many users as possible to use it. If this is the case, it is more suitable to find an action sheet for executing the selected strategies.
The three-level adoption process provides a good basis for describing this phase.To change the outlooks of potential users of ERP, management must first try to affect the cognitive component of user’s attitudes. A major strategy for achieving this goal is communication. One efficient communication strategy is to inform prospective users of the benefits of ERP. The marketing people usually communicate the benefits of a product, rather than its attributes, to customers, to draw their attention and intensify their need. Top management, in the similar way, can create more applicable awareness for the ERP system by communicating its benefits to the workers. In many cases, ERP implementation failed because of lack of communication.
Knowledge about what the system can be conveyed to the organization and its workers can build eagerness for the system. Nevertheless, one must watch out for unrealistic worker’s expectations, which may deepen the resistance problem, thus causing its failure from the start. Moreover, the success of future introduction initiatives depends on building a collective base of trustworthiness by management.Another communication strategy is to give a general description of how the implemented ERP system will work. ERP users are expected to be reluctant to welcome the new system if they do not know how it works.
Teaching each of the various user groups how the ERP system works is important in creating awareness. Thus, from the start, management should explain to potential users how the ERP system is going to work. For example, management should clarify the general inputs and outputs of the system, determine departments that will provide the data, and define the computer knowledge needed to operate the system, etc.
In all cases, it is of utmost importance that the support staff responsible for executing these communication strategies possess adequate political skills so that the awareness stage ends up in accordance with the plan.The second step in the strategy implementation phase is to influence the affective component of user’s attitudes. The first strategy that can be used by management is cost minimization. The low-cost strategy as one that can be used by marketers to help an organization survive in a competitive environment. If management wants the new system to be adopted by the users, then user’s adoption costs should be kept to a minimum.The cost minimization strategy should be developed in such a way that it affects both individual workers and influential groups.
On the individual level, the ERP system has to minimize the perceived cost for each employee in order to create a positive adoption attitude. Influential groups within the organization are also looking at the cost aspect of the implementation effort. Another strategy that could help affect the adoption attitude of potential users is differentiation.
The quality option as one important basis for product differentiation. In the ERP context, the user’s perceived high quality of the ERP system would surely have a positive impact on their attitudes toward that system. Some ERP systems have an unwieldy user interface, which can cause problems. Generally, system users do not scientifically measure quality attributes of the system, rather each user constructs his or her convenient perception about the system depending on his or her real experience.
Practical training is another important driver of ERP implementation success. Training offers a good prospect to help users adapt to the change that has been introduced by the ERP system, and helps build positive approaches toward the management strategies. Further, training provides practical experience for the users: they appreciate the quality attributes of the system and its likely benefits.
The last part in the strategy implementation phase is the conative stage. Getting the commendation and backing of well-known individuals and opinion leaders is the first strategy that can be used. Applying this strategy would help in ensuring the support of the leaders of the influential groups. To succeed in mobilizing opinion leaders, management must capitalize on its efforts in the second stage when it tried to build user’s objective to adopt the ERP system by minimizing the adoption costs of the groups. Also, convincing group leaders to effectively participate in the implementation process and make them feel that they are key players will ensure their valuable commitment. Because of their commitment, leaders of the groups will try to convince their colleagues that the ERP system is to their benefit.
This gives top management a clear rule that the introduction of an ERP system should not be introduced until a positive attitude is built and persistent among potential users. For example, do not introduce an ERP when a critical mass of your employees feels threatened by the system or feels forced to accept the new system. Solving these problems before introducing the ERP would help set the stage for success.Most importantly top management’s commitment is critical for the success of the whole ERP implementation process. Transformation requires a strategic vision to ensure its long-term success.
In a recent survey, leadership was ranked the number one catalyst of large transformation efforts. ERP implementation can only be accomplished when senior management is totally committed to the initiative. Management commitment and support is the ultimate strategy that will secure the necessary conditions for successfully introducing the change brought by ERP into the organization.
Status evaluation phaseBesides having a performance measurement system to ensure that the desired business outcomes were achieved, it is as important to monitor the progress of ERP change management efforts. It is crucial that top management makes sure worker’s anxiety and resistance to ERP is under control. The status evaluation phase provides feedback information to top management in a active manner. To be useful, the feedback should be timely, accurate, and systematic.Based on status evaluation phase outcome, top management takes proper action.
The feedback coming from the evaluation phase may be positive, which means that recorded performance of counter resistance efforts should be maintained. Alternatively, the performance feedback may be negative. Management may find that there is still strong workforce resistance to the operational changes resulting from ERP implementation. In such a case, top management should make every effort to understand what went wrong.
For example, top management may want to re-identify user’s needs and re-evaluate the execution of adopted change management strategies to find an acceptable fit between the two.