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Most organizations today are undergoing digital transformation to include system implementations to enable their business and workforce performance. Successful implementations require a focused and coordinated effort to ensure ROI. Having recently completed an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning software) implementation at our organization, we collected lessons learned to share with you.

Last fall, we went live with our ERP. The implementation was both a challenging and rewarding 16-month journey. Along with the software implementation, we also implemented other organizational initiatives such as new business processes, new ways of working, and organizational structural changes. These initiatives gave us firsthand experience with change saturation and change collision. Recognizing this reality, we knew to win around it required focused organizational change management and learning strategies and tactics to drive the adoption needed to meet customer expectations and drive business success.

“Throughout the implementation, we continually refined our requirements to align with the organization’s capacity for change.”

Implementation Lessons Learned

Nine months post go-live, I’ve had a little bit of time to look back and document my lessons learned to share with those also navigating change.

  1. Strategically prioritize change initiatives and ensure everyone in the organization’s goals are aligned to drive adoption.

The ERP implementation was one of several initiatives for the company. As part of our performance management process, we ensured every individual had a goal aligned to the implementation’s success. This alignment allowed for individual accountability, better coordination and minimized conflicting efforts.

  1. Identify your organization’s skillsets and skill gaps. Bring in consulting expertise to bridge the gap.

We formed an internal team consisting of our system admin, subject matter experts, and leadership stakeholders. However, we also engaged with three experts to enable success.

  • The first was an implementation partner that guided us through the ERP implementation process. They educated us on the system’s capabilities and helped us redefine our processes.
  • The second was a CARA OCM Strategist who collaborated with the ERP team to create a change roadmap to bring us through design, deployment and destination.
  • The third was a CARA Learning consultant with expertise in technical writing, information architecture and the skills to design and develop a SharePoint site for organizing and hosting our training and performance support content. The ‘How CARA Works’ SharePoint site enables us to provide content and training around new processes and provides on demand help in their moment of need. We collaborated to create assets such as tutorial videos and how-to documentation. This site is now the centralized location for all our processes, procedures and training and enables us to easily make updates aligned with our continuous improvement post implementation.
  1. Pull together a group of super users to be your change champion network.

We were changing so many things for so many different people and needed representation from all the teams to test, sign off, and serve as escalation points as well as trainers. We brought the change champion network together before deployment and they invested in and took ownership of the change. They knew their teams and understood what they needed to hear from the implementation team for things to really click. Their input allowed us to address resistance early on and make adjustments to processes, training and communication as necessary. The super users also became fluent in the new system language and they continue to operate as their teams’ advocates to this day.

  1. Plan and prioritize communication and training.

Post Covid, we became a remote first organization which required us to rethink our approaches to communication and training. Using the change champion network as a sounding board we tested our plans and adjusted to ensure we met each user need. We leveraged existing touchpoints and meetings for communication along with clarified the cadence and location of where users could find communication and provide input.

  1. Define standard practices instead of managing the exceptions.

We discovered many one-off processes that lacked standardization, hindering employee training and overall company growth. As a conscious decision, we converted disparate processes into standard practices that worked for 95% of situations. The remaining exceptions were addressed post-deployment.

  1. Refine your requirements to align to address change saturation.

Throughout the implementation, we continually refined our requirements to align with the organization’s capacity for change. We focused on delivering a minimum viable product and made the decision to phase in additional features over time, considering the teams’ ability to absorb and adapt to the changes.

  1. Acknowledge interdependency and transparency of data for better teamwork and more data-driven decision-making.

We had several barriers across departments. One team had no idea what another team was doing to make their wishes become a reality. Our new system has spread the ownership for outputs across the company. This enhanced teamwork fostered empathy for different responsibilities. It enabled real-time access to valuable data and empowered the team to make informed decisions and drive daily actions.

An ERP implementation journey can be lengthy and challenging. However, we take pride in the valuable lessons learned. We hope they will assist you as you consider or embark on your implementation. Get in touch to learn how we can provide the expertise you need to manage major shifts and changes within your organization.

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Nicole Chiscon, Director of Organizational Effectiveness & Community, The CARA Group

Author Nicole Chiscon, Director of Organizational Effectiveness & Community, The CARA Group

Nicole Chiscon is the Director of Organizational Effectiveness at The CARA Group. With her background in Learning and Organizational Change Management across multiple roles and industries, she is responsible for helping the CARA team identify opportunities within the firm for operational improvement, directing change initiatives, and enhancing organizational effectiveness. Nicole finds joy in sharing insights with our community from her experience driving innovative system and process optimization projects within CARA.

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