We’ve all been there before or at least seen it happen in the workplace. Enthusiasm and commitment for a project are high in the initial planning phase, especially when you’re asking for input & opinions, but once the work comes to implementing the change, it vanishes. People’s attitudes and behavior radically change, and they become almost apathetic towards the project. This can have a harmful effect on the outcome of a project if it’s not addressed quickly. When the project even kicks off, it often won’t reach its goals. This costs you money, but the psychological cost to customers and staff can be even more costly.
To avoid this, propose strategies to overcome staff resistance to change (tried & tested in hundreds of our implementations) in advance, so your team stays motivated, and the momentum keeps going throughout the entire project’s lifecycle.
Derailed Projects: What Causes Them
There are all types of projects – construction projects, IT projects, research projects, innovation projects, office moves projects, etc. but they all have one thing in common: the potential to derail, with 70% of organizations having at least one failed project behind them.
Particularly, with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation projects. Everyone is kumbaya during the selection process, yet scatter when the actual work comes – even though they are very vocal about the project during interviews. If you find your team’s motivation waning during implementation, look for some of the common underlying causes.
It’s usually not easily visible, but there are a few reasons you can check into. Some include lack of organizational commitment (particularly from the top-down), poor leadership or communication, lack of direction, or unclear objectives and goals. These are some of the main reasons projects fail. On the positive side, they also have some basic rules for avoiding it!
To start, the entire process needs to have an ‘all-hands-on deck’ approach – from selecting an integrated cloud-based best-in-class accounting software, like Sage Intacct (just a suggestion), through to post-implementation. Empower the entire team so they feel like they have a stake and a responsibility in the project. This is the catalyst that drives the factors you need: systemic collaboration, employee engagement, an emotional connection to the project, and the personal impact they have on its goals.
Since ERP systems impact every area of an organization, we recommend that you stop working on other projects that aren’t an urgent priority. This shifts resources so they can be spent on the implementation and ensuring its success, helps avoid disruption in the workplace with too many projects at once. Using the all-hands-on-deck approach also shows not only that you’re committed to the successful outcome of the project, but that you value the follow-through with training of its new functionalities and the optimized workflows that come with it.
Preparation is key
Obtain organizational buy-in and gather signatures (literally) from each of your different departments that prove their commitment to the goals. If you’re starting to feel a sense of disinterest, pull out the signatures as a reminder of the commitment they made! This is especially true for executives, but it’s important for the management level and staff as well.
If the decision-makers in your company aren’t on board with the project, eventually you may find that budget and resources start to decline. Make sure everyone understands the project’s goals and objectives so there’s no confusion about what the intended outcome is. Clearly and methodically articulate these points so resistance towards the change doesn’t sneakily materialize.
The Hard Side of Change
Change is the only constant. The typical organization today has undertaken five major firmwide changes in the past three years — and nearly 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years. It’s helpful for everyone to recognize that change is hard, but it’s also inevitable if you want to remain relevant and profitable in an evolving world.
Everyone also needs to know why the change is happening. What is the outcome or end game of this project? What will change, and how will that change impact me? Supported and engaged employees make the change management process easier in the workplace.
Plan for a Plan
With ERP implementations, change management is all about planning. Propose strategies to overcome staff resistance to change ahead of time. Discuss and document how decisions will be made before the project kicks off. Identify roles and responsibilities for each of the team members so there’s no confusion around who’s doing what and when. Identify strategies that reduce resistance to the change. Ignoring resistance doesn’t just make it go away. Assume it will come up and have a solid plan for how to handle it.
Change management is more than just implementing a new ERP system. It focuses on the human side of change and helps to lead a cultural movement. An effective change management plan is a big enough topic to warrant a blog post all on its own, but essentially, it should cooperatively guide employees toward a common purpose and goals.
Applying these proven key approaches is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to managing a drastic change. There are many factors to consider – too many for just a single blog post. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can propose strategies to overcome staff resistance to change and successfully lead change in your workplace, reach out to our Sage Intacct experts at BT Partners. We’re here to help!