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  • Writer's pictureAnna Davidson

Managing Change During an ERP and Data Cleansing Initiative

No matter how big or small a company may be, an ERP implementation and data cleansing initiative can bring on a significant amount of change to all departments and individuals involved. One of the key factors to a successful implementation is to properly manage change throughout the company, ensuring a smooth and comfortable transition. Otherwise, you may face confusion, impeded workflows, and a lack of the benefits you expected to see from the initiative. 


Today, let’s talk about how you can manage change for your ERP implementation or data cleansing initiatives!


What is an ERP implementation and data cleansing initiative? 

First off, some quick definitions if you’re new to this industry. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a type of business management software used to manage everything from procurement and accounting to project management. The purpose of an ERP is to provide integrated visibility across all business units, while enabling efficient asset utilization and planning. What fuels this ever so important piece of technology is data, more specifically high quality data. 


A data cleansing initiative is what it sounds like: a dedicated process of cleaning and standardizing data to make sure it is accurate, consistent, and not missing any information. This process is often necessary because legacy data is not consistent or high quality. Without good quality data, even the best ERP will not work as efficiently as you hope.


ERP display

What’s involved in an ERP implementation and data cleansing initiative? 

An ERP implementation is a big deal. It can take a lot of time and resources to put into place and, as such, should not be taken lightly. We even covered this topic previously in the blog post: What to Consider When Implementing an ERP System. If you’re at the beginning of your ERP journey, that post is a good start to begin thinking about what’s involved in system selection, implementation, and rollout. 


As for data cleansing, IMA offers services to quickly and expertly clean your Material Master data, as described on our website. IMA has the most flexible services available and can adapt the process to truly meet your needs. 


Free data evaluation

To learn more, IMA offers a free data evaluation, which will analyze the condition of your existing Material Master data, provide actual samples, and suggest solutions to resolve data quality issues. In the grand scheme of things, data cleansing is a small price to pay to capture immediate cost savings and long-term ERP benefits.


Why does managing change matter?

Change can be difficult and unsettling, even when it’s a positive change. Your employees are used to doing tasks a certain way and may feel resistant–or even defensive–when changing their procedures. Employees may also be anxious about having to learn a new tool, especially if they’re not particularly tech savvy, or worried that their job will be replaced. Even if there’s no resistance to the change, confusion over what is happening or what needs to be done can lead to delays or mistakes.


The difficulties around change is exactly why managing change is so important. By getting your employees on board and making the change easy and positive, your project will go a lot smoother and avoid common pitfalls.  


How to manage change

Now that you understand that managing change is an important component of a successful ERP implementation or data cleansing initiative, how do you actually do it? There are a number of components and you should plan on creating a comprehensive approach to introducing and managing your change. Today, though, let’s cover the big three areas of successfully managing changes:

  1. Clearly defining the benefits 

  2. Educating employees

  3. Providing ongoing support


how to successfully manage changes

Clearly define the benefits for both the business and employees

When employees don’t clearly understand the reason for and benefits of the change, they often assume that there is no point in moving away from what is currently working. By clearly defining the benefits, not just for the business, but also for the employees, there will be a greater understanding of why the change is in fact necessary. Gaining buy-in from your employees is one of the most critical factors in an implementation, as these are the individuals who will have to learn and utilize the new system and process on a daily basis! If you can’t gain buy-in from those individuals, you may be in for a long haul.

So where do you start? 


First off, when you’re assembling your initial team for the project, consider what departments are going to be affected. If you’re making a change to your procurement procedures, for example, then it’s a good idea to involve someone from that department (likely a manager). That way, you have someone on the team who can evaluate the product and changes for the specific department and be your advocate when the time comes to introduce it to the rest of the team. 


When that time comes, you can use tools such as email messages introducing the change, help sheets, meetings, and training sessions to introduce the new process with a focus on the benefits for everyone. You may specifically have your department advocate lead meetings and training sessions, or simply have them act as the “super user” who can be a resource for questions and advice. However you choose to do it, make sure you’re always stressing the benefits.


Educate, educate, educate

We already hinted at training in the previous section and that’s because education is quite possibly the most important success factor in any change management program. By providing proper education and training materials, you are instilling knowledge and confidence within your employees to face the coming change without fear or negativity. 


When providing educational and training materials, keep in mind that you are dealing with several different skill levels. Although some employees may catch on quicker than others, make sure that your training materials are geared towards your lowest skill level to ensure that no detail is missed. In general, everyone will benefit from the instructions being as clear and comprehensive as possible! Think about writing them from the perspective of a true new user who will need to know even the simplest things, like where to go and how to log in.


As a change management professional, try to spend a significant amount of time testing and learning the new system and process by yourself so that you are prepared for any training questions that may arise. The more confident and knowledgeable you are as a trainer and change management professional, the more comfortable and likely your users will be to ask questions.


While preparing as much as possible is great, you should also expect that there will be questions you don’t know. In those cases, it’s important to not spread misinformation by guessing at an answer; instead, plan to follow up on it or bring in another expert. This can be a great place for your department representatives, or super users, to step in with answers or more availability for questions beyond the training sessions.


Finally, since people learn in different ways and memory cannot always be relied upon, make sure you offer your education materials in different formats. A training session is great for visual learners and an opportunity to ask questions; a written help sheet is useful for hands-on learners and all kinds of learners to reference in the future; one-on-one demos or training environment experiences can be useful to employees who need a little extra help.


Provide ongoing support during the transition period

Offering ongoing support during the transition period allows employees to stay positive and comfortable asking questions. The transition period can be quite stressful for many, so it is important to make sure that they don’t become frustrated or demotivated. It can also go on longer than you think! Not every employee will do every task right away, so they may have questions further down the line. Make sure your employees are aware that there is support staff available for any questions, training, or technical assistance–such as a department representative or super user. These are often users they feel more comfortable talking to than a dedicated trainer who they may not know.


Throughout the transition period, it’s helpful to also gain employee feedback and assess how the transition period is going. This feedback can help you determine whether additional training seminars or updates are required. Giving your employees a voice makes them feel like their experience is important to the company. Not only can this be a significant motivator, but in many cases, their feedback will bring new ideas to the forefront that will significantly benefit the organization.


Their feedback can also be a strong indicator of how successful your change management has gone. If you receive negative feedback, don’t be afraid to step back and find new ways to explain the change, train the employees, and involve them.


Conclusion

In any situation, change can be a scary thing, especially for those who have been with the company for a long period of time and have become comfortable in their current environment. While it may seem scary, change is inevitable and it is the only way that society and business can continue to progress. Since we can’t fight change, we might as well embrace it with a proper change management program to ensure successful implementation, transition, and end results.


For more information on how IMA can help you with your Material Master data needs, visit www.imaltd.com or contact info@imaltd.com. We look forward to working with you! 

And for blog topics, suggestions, and any other feedback, contact info@imaltd.com. We’re always looking for more topics that you want to know about.

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