The infrastructure part of change management deals with what needs to get set up to make the changes easier on people in the organization. Here are six pragmatic tips for setting up your change management infrastructure:
1. Help achieve the targeted business results. This needs to be first and foremost in the mind of a change management practitioner. The questions the practitioner asks, and support systems set up need to focus on achieving the desired business results. Everything -- from meeting design to hallway conversations, to setting up the steering committee charter – needs to support the business goals articulated at the start of the project.
2. Ensure alignment of business objectives among all key project groups. There needs to be a clear understanding of the targets, starting at the executive team and cascading down. Sounds simple, but in one electronics company that implemented ERP I found the executive team didn't even agree on the targeted benefits -- each had been sold on the big picture benefits from the ERP vendor, and each had their own view of how they applied to their area. And disconnects can also occur between senior managers and the technical implementation team. These, and many other reasons can cause disconnects, so goal alignment needs to be actively and constantly supported.
3. Connect the change management project plan to the technical implementation plan. Certain activities need to occur for effective and efficient change, so developing a change management workplan is essential. AND, I recommend this plan is incorporated into, or at least annotated on to, the main technical project plan. In places where this hasn't been done, I've noticed change activities get short shrift when technical deadlines are threatened.
4. Establish multi-faceted communications with feedback loops. Many communications experts suggest that a key message needs to be repeated at least 8 times to be heard and understood. Yet all too often in ERP efforts leaders say something once, and expect everyone to hear, and completely understand it. Best practice suggests multiple broadcasts of a key message, and through various channels (like town hall meetings, newsletters, quick videos, etc.). It’s also important to set up feedback loops to make sure the messages are coming across as intended, and that indicate a additional communication is required if they’re not.
5. Ensure clear role definition for implementation and operations tasks. Let’s first look at the implementation gameplan. Key implementation tasks need to be covered. There also need to be key project organizational entities, like a steering committee to provide continual strategic direction, and help resolve cross-disciplinary disputes. A formal charting of people to specific responsibilities is very helpful in determining coverage, and eliminating redundancies. I see is as the change manager’s charter to do this if it hasn’t been done already by the overall ERP project manager, or technical team leaders. And regarding roles for the post-implementation world, the same rules apply. It’s helpful to get and “audit” to make sure the key tasks are covered, key organizational structures exist, and roles are clearly associated with people.
6. Help shape the training strategy and results. This will vary from one ERP implementation to another. Sometimes companies rely heavily on the software provider for training, others do not. It’s up to the change manager – if not done by the overall project manager – to provide early input to the overall training approach and execution. Good guidelines are: keep it relevant, keep it minimal, and keep it well-timed (just before needed). It’s also good to keep in mind that users training users tend to work better than outsiders training users. In a “super-user” strategy the company develops one highly qualified person in an area, who then helps trains and supports others as needed.
These are six high leverage tips for ERP change managers that relate to setting up an infrastructure that helps create conditions for effectively and efficiently performing change management activities. For six additional tips related to the work a change manager does with people see a the people aspect blog.