Nestell & Associates would like to welcome our friend and colleague to our team, Dr. Liz Bywater
At N&A we place great emphasis on the “human element” of ERP organizational change. ERP organizational change goes far beyond just being an IT and/or PMO project. Successful ERP organizational change starts with the executive team and the organizational culture. That is, for one, why our ERP organizational change approach includes an organizational assessment first and foremost. In partnership with our friends and colleagues at Denison Consulting, a pioneer in the space of organizational culture and leadership, we utilize their industry-leading Denison Organizational Culture Survey to understand the temperature and dynamics that exist within our clients’ organizations. After all, it is difficult to fix what you don’t measure and can’t easily see. This especially goes for the more abstract and intangible influences such as organizational culture and leadership. After you assess organizational culture, then you need to execute for opportunities to improve.
Dr. Liz Bywater joins the N&A team as a strategic partner and trusted advisor, friend, and colleague. As such, she will support the rest of the N&A team and create dramatic value for our clients through her robust thought leadership and insight. Liz will provide strategic guidance to our clients and drive value as one of N&A’s “boots on the ground” organizational leadership experts.
An undeniable and significant influence on successful ERP organization change is organizational leadership and culture. N&A believes that creating a corporate culture consisting of a cohesive relationship with all stakeholder groups is critical. Liz has joined us to support and advance that mission.
Dr. Bywater’s Bio:
Dr. Liz Bywater is a uniquely qualified leadership expert who works at the intersection of business and psychology. She combines deep expertise in human behavior and organizational effectiveness, a pragmatic mindset, and an engaging personal style to help clients excel in an increasingly complex world. Liz brings a rapidly actionable framework for success, which is captured in her new book, Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World.
C-suite leaders, private equity partners, and corporate boards enlist Liz’s help to: accelerate profitable growth, drive rapid success of mergers, acquisitions, and organizational transformations, navigate high stakes leadership transitions, establish stellar customer relationships, supercharge innovation, increase strategic agility, eliminate fire-fighting, and reap the rewards of extraordinary collaborations and partnerships.
Dr. Bywater is a leadership columnist for Life Science Leader and provides expert commentary for the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, FierceCEO and other top media outlets. She sits on the Editorial Advisory Board for Life Science Leader and has been a featured guest on CBS’s Philadelphia Agenda, Remarkable Women and a host of top leadership podcasts. She is a popular keynote speaker and long-standing member of the American Psychological Association and the Million Dollar Consulting® Hall of Fame.
Learn more about Dr. Bywater: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjgbtBoINCg
About Nestell & Associates: https://nestellassociates.com/about-us/
Effective Learning Through Effective Education
Effective organizational learning and education is a key influence for successful ERP organizational change. When discussing education in general, Dr. Richard E. Snow states in his article “Aptitude Development and Education” (1996, p. 537) that “learning to learn, learning to reason, learning to find and solve problems, learning to be interested and industrious, to persevere, to achieve in the face of novelty, complexity, adversity, and change—in short, to develop readiness, that is, aptitude, for new learning—increasingly becomes the principal goal of education“.
Frankly, this statement applies to ERP organizational change specifically in a very real and significant way. Organizational learning comes in different forms which include reflection, sharing experiences, and formal training. Moreover, organizational learning is encouraged, supported, taught, and endorsed through effective education that is based on principle. As Dr. Snow states, the principal goal of education is to develop readiness and an aptitude for continuous and effective learning. And, “readiness” and “learning” are two significant influences upon ERP organizational change success.
Effective Learning Through Scaffolding
“Although education is a corner-stone of ERP implementation, the user training is usually only emphasized and the courses are centered on computer/system operation rather than on understanding the ERP concept and spirit.” (Yu, C. S.,2013, Causes influencing the effectiveness of the post‐implementation ERP system).
ERP organizational change success requires organizational learning not just in terms of functional knowledge but also in terms of concept and spirit as noted by Yu (2013). This organizational learning process requires a tactical and deliberate approach to ERP organizational change education and training. Organizational ERP learning comes in many forms best supported through scaffolding. This scaffolding process moves employees to a progressively better understanding of ERP organizational change in general and of the conceptual, functional, and process support value of ERP systems specifically. A learning process in which employees move from the general to the more detailed understanding of the ERP organizational change process and the ERP platform is critical. This learning should progress from organizational readiness and preparation understanding, ERP conceptual and general understanding, specific ERP functional training, “fingers to keyboard” labs and homework, conference room piloting (CRP), and user acceptance testing (UATs).
Effective Learning Through Deliberate, Structured, and Formal Organizational Training
The ERP implementation process is as much about end-user education and training as anything else. Some great resources demonstrate that proper training is a key success factor (and often a stumbling block) for organizations; including (Vincent, Soni, & Venkat, 2018), (Noudoostbeni, Ismail, Jenatabadi, & Yasin,2018), and (Momoh, Roy, & Shehab, 2013) to name just a few. Successful ERP implementations require a deliberate, structured, and disciplined focus on organizational training and education. All too often organizations focus on the technology stack, business processes, and functional requirements (which are also important) but fail to give sufficient attention to functional and conceptual end-user training. Even when they do give it consideration, organizations often don’t allow enough time for proper training. Organizations can expect too much too fast from the end-users’ as implementing a new ERP solution often involves a significant learning curve. As a part of formal training, ERP users also need to acquire an understanding of the “upstream” and “downstream” consequences of the business process. That is to say, they need to understand where their data comes from and where it ends up and the impact of their process execution on the rest of the organization. Employees also need to be able to understand issues and how to resolve them. What happens when you get an error, a transaction will not go through, or you are missing key data? As much as possible, ERP functional training needs to be built into muscle memory as much as possible so that it is second nature by the time of go-live.
Effective Learning Through Transfer of Training Knowledge
It is one thing to participate in formal training, conference room pilots (CRPs), and User Acceptance Testing (UAT’s) in a formal setting in a training room. It is quite another thing when the organization pushes the “go-live button” and employees now have to utilize their new ERP solution in the “real-world”. The more comfortable the end-users are with the new ERP, the smoother the go-live event and post-go-live transition. However, it is not good enough for users to simply be able to execute functional work instructions in a classroom setting. Effective learning and continuous improvement must persist well after go-live. Organizationally supported opportunities for learning in the form of continuous training as well as opportunities to discuss the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to operations is critical. What is going well? What needs work? Where are the issues? As the knowledge transfers from the classroom to the “real-world”, the opportunities for learning are significant. Organizational learning is not just a classroom event. The organization must ensure proper resources that support and advocate that the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to operations is effective, efficient, and supporting the desired business outcomes (i.e. successful ERP organizational change).
Effective Learning Through Evaluation and Measurement
Training is a tangible ERP organizational change influence that can be measured. ERP organizational change practitioners understand, agree, approve, and/or assume the value of organizational learning in concept. But, your ERP organizational change plan should include concrete and measurable actions that support, promote, and improve organizational learning. One objective of any ERP organizational change plan therefore should include a comprehensive plan to implement, manage, and monitor for these desired performance outcomes. For instance, one such framework used to design an integrated training implementation and evaluation plan is the New World Kirkpatrick Model (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2016). The model consists of four levels of monitoring and evaluation; Level 1-Reaction, Level 2-Learning, Level 3-Behavior, and Level 4-results. Level 1 determines the degree to which stakeholders find training engaging and relevant. Level 2 is the degree to which stakeholders acquire the appropriate level of knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment. Level 3 is the degree to which stakeholders apply and transfer what they’ve learned to their practice. And Level 4 is the degree on which organizational goals and desired outcomes are met. The effective implementation of the New World Kirkpatrick model needs to meet two criteria. First, it needs to be implemented in a way that promotes training and evaluation that the organization cares about and is useful to make decisions (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2016). Second, it must be credible, believable, and based in reality (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2016). With the utilization of the New World Kirkpatrick Model, the implementation and evaluation plan will allow for organizational alignment from the higher-level organizational goals to the very onset of a training and implementation program which begins with commitment, engagement, and buy-in from the organizational stakeholders.
Effective Learning Endorsed Through Organizational Culture
There is often a significant learning curve for organizations during ERP implementation. However, a culture of organizational learning helps organizations to capitalize on this known learning curve by taking advantage of errors, mistakes, and lessons learned. ERP implementation can be a time of significant organizational changes in terms of process, people, and technology. But none-the-less, the value of organizational learning has to be endorsed and maintained. Organizational learning is not only a significant ERP success factor but also a tool for ERP continuous improvement. Ke and Wei (2008) note that ERP organizational change is highly dependent upon learning, support, and collaboration. Scott and Vessey (2018) discussed the role of learning from failure during ERP organizational change and states that organizational learning is positively associated with organizational improvement, development, and therefore success. Shao, Feng, and Hu (2017) further discuss the value of an organizational learning culture directly impacts ERP organizational change success. Park, Suh, and Yang (2007) suggest how a major influence in ERP success is understanding, assimilating, and applying ERP knowledge that comes with knowledge sharing and organizational learning. Since ERP organizational change risks and challenges are 1) at some level to be expected even in the best of ERP organizational change efforts and 2) an honest reality even in the best of ERP organizational change efforts, why not intentionally learn from the challenges? Intentionally implementing mechanisms to ensure that learning takes place starts with an organizational culture that values and endorses learning.
Effective Learning Through Effective Practice
Scott and Vessey (2018) suggest that organizational learning (and learning from failure) is key for ERP organizational change success. Scott and Vessey (p. 230) provided several “insights that could be useful to practitioners who will be faced with implementing an ERP system in the future, as well as for those who may be undertaking any kind of far-reaching, integrated system implementation such as those that will be necessary to conduct meaningful e-business”. Below are some of their key points for practice that endorses organizational learning:
- “Take a realistic view of the role technology can play in supporting your firm’s strategy; engage in a strategy of “small wins” or “small failures” to leverage knowledge gained.”
- “Plan and manage the project; employ a strong project leader and a well-defined methodology so that changes during the project are addressed appropriately; even if there is insufficient knowledge to manage at the tactical level, ensure the effectiveness of high-level planning and management of the project.”
- “Learn from unforeseen circumstances; be flexible in adapting to changes in the business environment by adjusting at the project level; defer the Go Live date, reduce the project scope, change the number/ composition of teams, organize training, think tanks, etc.”
- “Recognize the importance of organizational culture; foster an open culture and encourage open communications to facilitate organizational learning.”
- “Consider using a phased or roll-out strategy to facilitate organizational learning and provide the opportunity for learning from (small) failures.”
Effective #ERPOrganizationalChange Through #ResearchBasedERPpractice
The above article discussed and shared some of the great work and some great points of insight that only skims the surface of organizational learning principles, concepts, and facts. A general but primary point of the work in the ERP and organizational change field should be well taken as ERP practitioners: your ERP organizational change plan should include concrete, tangible, and measurable actions that support, promote, and improve organizational learning that is based on sound principles.
The New World Kirkpatrick Model: https://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/Our-Philosophy/The-New-World-Kirkpatrick-Model
Scott & Vessey, “Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: The Role of Learning From Failure”, 2018:
ERP and organizational change researchers have a passion to bring value to practitioners that are based on sound research and principle. The field and practice of ERP organizational change would benefit from the reflection and application of this insightful work. When it comes to ERP organizational change research, if you are an organization or an ERP practitioner, you should care about what this great current and past research are telling us.
What is ERP organizational change?
Sometimes remaining competitive and healthy requires significant organizational change. And one of those change agents is Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, systems that act as a tool to drive improvements and to create or maintain a competitive advantage. ERP organizational change is the act of leveraging ERP systems in an effort to realize improved business outcomes.
In order to fully realize the benefits and value that ERP systems have to offer, however, it often requires the right ERP solution, significant organizational resources, and tremendous effort and time. The process of aligning people, processes, and technology in an effective and efficient way in which to fully realize ERP success and assimilation is called ERP organizational change. However, ERP organizational change has inherent and potentially significant business challenges and risks.
What is ERP organizational change research?
ERP organizational change is often a tremendous organizational effort. ERP organizational change is often a time of high stress, significant stakeholder frustrations, numerous challenges, inherent risks, business interruptions, and even failure. But why is this the case? Does it have to be this way? How can we, as practitioners, positively impact and improve ERP organizational change? These are precisely the questions that researchers in the field of ERP organizational change seek to address. Being able to answer these questions and then applying the research insight will allow practitioners to bring the greatest value to organizations and to contribute to the ERP organizational change field.
ERP assimilation challenges and failures are a significant problem directly related to many complex and dynamic influences. ERP organizational change research considers all aspects of ERP organizational change influences including organizational, process, and technology-related factors. ERP organizational change research studies “success models” and “success factors” in order to offer up possible new perspectives and insight in which to continue to improve the value of ERP, understand how to better utilize ERP, and to better understand how to reduce the challenges and risks associated with large scale ERP implementations.
What is ERP organizational change research telling us?
The general review of literature and research suggests that understanding and awareness of this work and success factors is an important organizational process. Al-Mashari (2003) described the need for an urgent research agenda that addresses the issues and challenges inherent in ERP adoption. The ERP organizational change literature presents a common theme in which research suggests that organizations that become aware of, implement, and put the appropriate emphasize on the vast array of critical success factors will be better prepared and positioned with the organizational skills needed to increase the likelihood of ERP assimilation and meeting the desired organizational goals (Sawah, Tharwat, & Ramsy, 2013; Moon, 2007; Jafari, Osman, Yusuf, & Tang, 2006). Research notes that there is a lack of routine and quality reflection in practice (Ferry & Ross-Gordon, 1998; Rodgers, 2002). ERP research continues in 2020 simply because the need for this research continues. The need for this research is actually driven by demand.
The evolution of ERP research continues to look at the problem from many different fields of study, models, and perspectives (Basoglu, Daim, & Kerimoglu 2007). The collective benefits, knowledge, and awareness of this work could lead to improved organizational ERP performance and success. Scholars and practitioners continue the search to find common denominators in considering all possible influences upon ERP organizational change success.
Why should anyone care about ERP organizational change research?
Because ERP organizational change research seeks to do one primary and fundamental thing: make a tactical difference in the success of your ERP organizational change effort.
Successful ERP assimilation matters because the evidence demonstrates that ERP failure is extremely costly to U.S. organizations (Wailgum, 2009; Osterlind, 2000; Shao, Feng, & Hu, 2017; Jyh-Fu & Nicolas, 2013; Ike & Madsen, 2005). The risk to the organization’s ERP assimilation goal if success is not achieved could lead to a loss in production, a decrease of product quality, loss of customers, loss of sales, and/or significant waste in resources, time, money, and effort. And, worst yet, plant closure, bankruptcy (Scott, 1999) and lawsuits (Grossman, 2004). All of these circumstances are documented in literature, case studies, and articles with evidence demonstrating that ERP failure is extremely costly to U.S. organizations (Grossman & Walsh, 2004).
ERP implementations are abandoned all together as well as incur significant time and cost overruns incurring millions of dollars in lost investment (Basoglu, Daim, & Kerimoglu, 2007). It is not only the costs of an ERP failure, but it’s also the loss of the ROI and benefits that a successful ERP can bring to an organization.
The goal of ERP organizational change research
Much great work exists in the field of ERP organizational change specifically (and organizational change in general) in which the goal is to provide additional objective data and insight that is founded in principle. This additional insight may be helpful to organizations toward meeting the goal of successful ERP assimilation via improved ERP organizational change performance. Even though many of the challenges are known, failure rates are not improving and ERP implementations remain problematic (Scott, 2018). The primary goal and value of ERP organizational change research is research based ERP practice .
Friend and colleague Dr. Justin Lee Goldston is an ERP Organizational Change Expert, Professor, Author, and TEDx Speaker. His book is a recommended read: “” https://www.amazon.com/Critical-Enterprise-Resource-Implementation-Manufacturing/dp/1948149095
Regarding ERP organizational change, the below quote is true and well-said assuming you selected the proper ERP solution, to begin with. As each ERP vendor will tell you, they are different from their competitors and they do have differences in functionality, technology, business process flows, and general business (and industry) modeling among many other factors. This is such a great statement and so true provided the organization has done the proper due diligence and picked the one best ERP solution for their organization as step #1 (as supported by research). ERPs are not all created equal and selection is critical. The norm for business practices can actually be executed functionally in many different ways.
“These situations can be emotionally draining. When a sales manager is in your face, adamant that your decision is going to ensure that she does not hit her annual quota, it is intimidating, even if you know it is not true. Keep in mind that your organization did not invent business. In addition to all of the tangible advantages, ERP brings to the table, create an additional success out of knowledge that your ERP package represents the norm for business practices, and you have the opportunity to quietly correct some bad business habits.”
“ERP and Legacy Business Processes: Is Change Inevitable?” Posted on 25/05/12 by Tom Stephenson http://www.erpfocus.com/erp-and-legacy-business-processes-is-change-inevitable-934.html
* * We genuinely hope for the best for all during this challenging time. We hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and that you navigate through the economic challenges sustainably. *
Experienced practitioners and change agents in the field know anecdotally and subjectively that the organizational culture impact on ERP organizational change is significant. As ERP researchers, we too objectively know this to be the case through sound research. As one of many examples, Shou and Ying (2005) study ERP success and suggest that significant success factors are related to organizational culture such as hostile company culture, unsuitable reporting structure, political pressures, vested interests, and management commitment. Practitioners and researchers know that ERP assimilation has significant shortcomings and challenges in the people and culture part of the technology, process, people/culture success triad.
Therefore, as practitioners, let’s work to better address the problem and let’s give more consideration to the potential impact of corporate culture. Too many organizations assume too much about their culture. Or, when it comes to ERP organizational change, organizational culture is given little to no real formal and actionable consideration. For starters, let’s assess and measure the corporate culture temperature. And then, take an appropriate response in terms of tangible and concrete action. ERP organizational change is far from just an exercise in technology deployment, business process re-engineering, or project management standards. As practitioners, we need to reflect and approach our trade slightly differently. Please stay tuned for more……..
As a side note: Check out this great video on culture by Jason Bingham author of “Cultureship: The ACBs of Business Leadership”. https://youtu.be/kzf3MmTFwnw
Learn more about Nestell & Associates at https://nestellassociates.com/about-us/