Enterprise Software

TechRepublic members offer advice on selling ERP to users

Without user acceptance, your costly ERP implementation could go down the drain. In this article, TechRepublic members offer advice on how to achieve user buy-in before your ERP project is launched.


Change can split an organization when executive management supports a particular plan and the IT department does not—or vice versa. But even if both sides agree on a change, the organization may still face resistance from users.

This scenario often occurs when organizations implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to automate an organization’s back-end processes.

But as a manager, is it your job to ensure that users adopt the new software? The answer is yes if your department is in charge of training on the new software.

A recent TechRepublic article, "Evaluating ERP software vendors," generated a discussion in which many TechRepublic members felt “user buy-in,” or how users accept and use new software, was the largest hurdle to a successful ERP implementation.

Here are suggestions from TechRepublic members on how to resolve this problem.

When users don’t want ERP
TechRepublic member Met11 said his organization is ready to choose an ERP vendor, but he contends that even if the technical part of the implementation succeeds, the project will fail. “We will never be able to implement end users to the ERP [system]. They just do not want it,” he said.

The organization is currently completely paper-dependent, Met11 said. Some users believe the automatic software system will make their positions obsolete, Met11 said.

Clearly, Met11 can’t afford to ignore the users' concern, members advised. Users must understand that ERP will be a positive addition to the organization, according to TechRepublic member Hank Greenfield.

Support for ERP must come from the top in an organization, Greenfield said. To help users understand and accept ERP, Greenfield suggested organizations take the following actions:
  • ·        Demonstrate that ERP is not a threat to users’ employment.
  • ·        Explain that, with ERP knowledge, users are more valuable as employees.
  • ·        Show users how the organization will benefit from ERP.
  • ·        Explain to users the IT and business reasons why ERP is necessary.
  • ·        Conduct training sessions to show users how ERP will affect their daily tasks.

These steps should be taken before an ERP system is fully implemented, he advised.

Adam Golden, a coauthor of the article, also participated in the discussion. He suggested that an organization implement a change management program to organize users’ adoption of ERP software.

Golden said a successful change management program should include the following:
  • ·        Education about the software
  • ·        Process and system training
  • ·        Communication about the implementation

Ask users to prove the old system
Like Met11, TechRepublic member etiennem knows that if users are “not on board” with ERP then the money and time spent on an implementation is virtually worthless.

Etiennem recommended that asking users for their suggestions might be a simple way to include them in the implementation.

“Try to sell the solution to the users; ask for their input,” he said.

If there is still resistance to the new software, ask users to prove that paper pushing is a more efficient way to run the organization, he suggested.

Let others sell ERP
When selecting an ERP vendor, a representative from your organization should visit another organization already using the vendor you are considering, Golden said. This way you can see first-hand how the software works and how the organization, as a whole, adapted to it.

TechRepublic member Suzanne_litt built on this idea by recommending users from these other organizations speak to your users about their experiences.

“Try getting the chosen vendor to ask other successful installation sites to get their best users to come and sell the benefits,” she said.

Users that can “talk the talk and walk the walk” can explain to your users how the implementation helped their jobs and their careers.

You can also make a deal with a vendor to use the visiting users as part-time mentors, she said. You may even get the vendors to fund the program if you remind them that the contract is at stake, she added.

Share your original user stories
What is the most outrageous user problem you’ve encountered? How did you handle the situation? Let us know (no user names please!) by sending us an e-mail or starting a discussion below.

 

Editor's Picks