An interesting article written by Susan Hall was posted yesterday at ITBusinessEdge.com about how ERP implementation specialists are in high demand. The article says that even though things have improved, many companies continue to struggle with ERP implementations. Later in this blog I will talk about why ERP and many Talent Management deployments are similar.
Referencing a Panorama Consulting study that was released back in February 2011, the Hall notes that 54 percent of companies said their ERP projects took longer than expected and 56 percent spent more than expected. Half the companies derived fewer business benefits than expected.
On the bright side, this is an improvement over the 2010 study that found 70 percent of ERP projects took longer than expected. The percentage of those who said their implementation cost more than expected was about the same in 2010, 56 percent.
So there is no slowdown in the demand for ERP specialists, with SAP skills in particular high demand. At the same time, SAP skills ranked No. 6 on Dice’s most recent list of the hardest jobs to fill, according to the article.
The folks at Panorama, analyzing the results, cited lack of project controls and unrealistic expectations as reason ERP projects go over budget, but believe the main reason is the tendency of organizations to focus on software-related costs, while neglecting the costs associated with managing organizational change, which – in their words – “bring tremendous pain to the company.”
ERP implementation failure is something we hear often about because when they go bad they not only result in lawsuits, the pain is really felt throughout the entire organization. People lose their jobs.
Interestingly, talent management systems and HR point solutions often suffer many of the same failures in budget and time overruns, as well as limited (real or perceived) business value… they just do it in on a slightly smaller stage. Whether you’re deploying, not implementing a new goal tracking system, a talent management suite, or a full blown ERP, you must understand that your are betting all your chips on being able to garner user adoption – this is a fancy way of saying you need to get employees to do something different.
It seems simple enough. After all, you spent all this money trying to make their lives easier, right? Why wouldn’t they change their behavior? Why wouldn’t they click a few more buttons, or enter a few more bits of data, or spend a few more minutes to get all those juicy benefits? Well guess what, the best technology without a “whats in it for me”; the me being the employee, makes the best technology as bad as the worst technology.
Why do organizations continue to make this mistake? I can’t answer that. If I could, I would bottle and sell the solution and retire a very wealthy man. What I can tell you is that at Knowledge Infusion we work with clients everyday doing technology deployments of all types and sizes, and no matter what, nobody is prepared for managing the post “go-live” changes – unless they have a strategy.
What we have learned is that a proactive, comprehensive change management strategy helps organizations not only prepare for deploying their workforce solutions, it also helps key stakeholder groups adapt to new ways of doing things. We do this by assessing organizational readiness as well as driving awareness and engagement and infusing some “marketing”, which is sometimes a bad word, but a sorely needed skill when deploying any strategy.
Having a solid change management strategy also helps extend the success of your implementation well beyond “go-live” but by building a sustainment plan to support ongoing changes – and you will have ongoing changes.
So, I have to ask: Is your organization prepared for the changes associated with implementing new behaviors, processes and technologies? Well, have you…
- Identified what key stakeholder groups inside HR need to effectively adopt and adapt to changes associated with your deployment?
- Heard the ‘voice of the customer’ from the workforce? Can you respond in a way that shows the customer you’re listening?
- Identified change champions to help drive the value proposition and “WIIFM” message to reduce the level of resistance and anxiety across the workforce?
- Defined how you will measure success both before and after go-live? How about how you will collect feedback to make ongoing improvements?
- Developed a thorough change plan that outlines the marketing, communications, training and support mechanisms to keep the workforce engaged?
- Considered how branding can enhance awareness and engagement throughout this process?
- Taken into consideration the generational (both demographics and technographic) variances across your workforce and how process changes will impact them differently?
If your answer to any of these questions is not an unequivocal “YES,” then your organization is not prepared for change, and you definitely need a change management strategy.
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
Lets not waste an era of great technology by doing things the way we have in the past. Systems of the past were designed for the HR department, technologies of today are designed for the workforce. What does this mean, somethings got to change!
Another infusion of knowledge…