by John Hoebler

How you can make your system implementation project a success

Sep 08, 2015
ERP SystemsIT GovernanceIT Leadership

In order to implement a new financial management solution, you need excellent project management, expert subject matter experts, executive support, and a great plan. There is one more thing you need.

Credit: Thinkstock

The former president of Harvard, Derek Bok, once said,

“If you think the cost of education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Such a statement is not only true in the context of higher learning, but also when implementing a new financial management solution.

If you have been on a legacy ERP system that was built in the 1990s, you know how the system works – both the good and the bad. You have built in work-arounds and have accepted system flaws as the cost of doing business. This is just the status quo you know.

When you implement a modern cloud financial management system, there will be many changes. For example, gone are the days of “sub-ledgers,” batch processes, and restrictive data silos. Users will enter transactions and process/consume data differently. If you are like most organizations and thinking about migrating to the cloud (FYI – you are in good company: per Gartner, 47% of companies are making the move soon), you will need to have a game plan for taking your users from the status quo you know to a more modern way of doing business.

In order to do this, you need to develop and execute a thorough change management strategy and plan. During the early phases of the project, you need to assess the current and future states. You then need to create a comprehensive change management plan that includes communication and training. The assessment and planning process for change management has four main steps:

1. Stakeholder identification – gain a solid understand of each stakeholder in each process and sub-process. After identifying your initial stakeholders, ask those stakeholders who their respective stakeholders are that may also be impacted by the project. Your stakeholders may have a need that is driven by management, another business line, or regulations. Identifying all of the stakeholders involved is the foundation of a strong change management plan.

2. Stakeholder impact assessment – for each stakeholder, determine how they are impacted by each sub-process. In addition, determine if they are going to be picking up new responsibilities or if an existing process is changing. You can also layer in location (where they work from) and the number of people in each stakeholder category. This will allow you to create stakeholder impact assessments and visualizations to show who is impacted and how they are impacted.

3. Communication plan – for each stakeholder, develop a communication plan. You need to develop overall messages, including when, how, who, and what should be communicated. In the absence of communication, people will naturally make up their own narrative. Communication should be persistent, consistent, and frequent. You should engage leadership and change champions throughout the organization to build awareness and understanding of the upcoming change, which typically covers 1) why we are changing, 2) what’s in it for me, and 3) how will my job change.

4. Training plan – for each stakeholder, develop a training strategy. Training mechanisms include many forms: instructor led training, self-paced training, computer based training, FAQs, video short topics, certification exams, and more. You need to develop training that can also be repeatable as your organization grows or as churn occurs through promotions and turnover that put new people in new roles.

If you develop a strong change management plan, you are on your way to ensuring that your new software solution is a success.