Change Management for Enterprise Software Implementations

Selecting a champion within your company for implementing enterprise wide software is crucial to its success. Although an ERP implementation is largely a group effort, the champion has a special role. This person will be the main contact for the ERP vendor, as well as being responsible for training and directing internal staff on procedural changes.

The role of the champion is to learn the software in order to direct the change. They are responsible for collecting all end user requirements and aiding in developing new and efficient procedures. Their goal is learn the software inside and out, then communicate this knowledge to their colleagues.

Occasionally the wrong person is initially chosen for the role as ERP champion. Having the wrong individual or team championing the implementation will result in numerous issues, inefficiencies, mistakes and delays. At worst, best practices can be completely ignored, resulting in inefficient business processes and a failed installation. Consequently, it is important to get the right person into the role as quickly as possible.

So how do you select the right champion? Here are five traits worth considering:

The individual is calm and confident under pressure

  • Change of any kind can be overwhelming.
  • Focus is crucial during the process.
  • Portrays confidence during training.
  • Stays level headed under pressure while learning new procedures.
  • Leads with the power to direct change in others.

The champion is organized.

  • ERP software packages are complex, so the champion must be able to comprehend the software in its entirety.
  • They must know your business in detail and able to organize and coordinate meetings with the right people when necessary.
  • The champion must be able to juggle many obligations without dropping the ball.

Leaders deliver clear messages, communicate and help train the team on the new procedures.

  • Communicates effectively to questions.
  • Overcomes objections and leads the team from the old procedures to new.
  • Articulates the vision for the future.
  • Brings appropriate concerns about procedures to the vendor and co- develops solutions.
  • Engages and motivates staff to make the changes.
  • The champion effectively explains to the team why changes are positive.
  • Provides the vision for the future and generates the buy in from the team.
  • Thinks long term and sees the big picture.

Team leaders are assertive.

  • The champion must be empathetic where appropriate, but also assertive when necessary.
  • It is crucial that the champion is comfortable with making inquiries in order to find the answer to difficult questions.Overcomes objections and leads the team from the old procedures to new.
  • There will be occasions when internal staff push back and question changes being made, consequently the champion must be able to instill confidence and keep employees on track.

The spokesperson is experienced and knowledgeable about your business.

  • Identifies what procedures are inefficient or do not fully address business needs.
  • Evaluates what is currently handled with external software that could be potentially be eliminated by the new ERP package.
  • Monitors procedures that are currently effective as well as procedures to be changed for maximize efficiency.
  • Discusses any shortcomings and comes up with a new game plan.
  • Involves upper management and when appropriate.

The importance of the champion is often overlooked. Before beginning, assess what dedicated resources will be made available to the project. Staff with enough time must be assigned to the job from start to completion. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is allocating staff to the project at the beginning, then withdrawing them before implementation is complete. The second most common error is reserving their best employees for daily operations and assigning inadequate or inexperienced team members to the implementation project.

Always assign your best people because your company depends upon maximizing the benefits of the software.

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