organizational communication optimization part 1Value of organizational communication concepts and proven principles

One thing is for certain, and that is the value of organizational communication throughout ERP implementation. At every level, the vertical and horizontal communication across the organization is of utmost importance.  Many levels of stakeholders exist within organizations.  Often, the realities, expectations, priorities, and organizational diversity can be quite disparate. Organizational diversity comes in many forms which include knowledge, value, skills, political, positional, and motivational. Often each individual stakeholder group takes on a common position towards the organizational change. However, this disparity gap can be bridged with the effective application of communication concepts and proven principles.

Value of understanding and addressing stakeholder diversity

Lewis (2011) states that organizations often have diverse stakeholders both within and without of the organization. Organizations also have independent relationships amongst the recognized stakeholder groups (Lewis, 2011). Organizational structure can have a significant impact on current communications and relationships amongst stakeholders. Often, some of these stakeholders (as groups or individuals) may be thought of as less relevant or important in the objective, purpose, and assessment of the change initiative. This perspective and approach create communication gaps and may create further disconnects in terms of the value, knowledge, motivational diversity gap. As Lewis (2011) states, the stakeholder groups clearly understand and recognize the position, leverage, and power of each other. Moreover, they also assess the degree to which their stakes are competitive or complementary with other stakeholders (Lewis, 2011). This is a key notion to understand if one is contemplating an effective communication strategy.

Value of understanding the stakeholder disparity gap

First, research suggests that often stakeholders have an inadequate understanding as to the true challenges of ERP implementations. A key to optimizing stakeholder communication lies in not over-promising and telling organizational stakeholders (at any level) only what they want to hear. Objective, honest, realistic, and sometimes difficult conversations are a requirement of every ERP implementation project. Second, your ERP implementation plan needs to take steps to understand the dynamics between stakeholder groups. What are the influences creating these dynamics and various positions? Are significant varying perspectives due to formal training, experience, the value of the initiative, perhaps politically motivated, or some other factor? Third, once these potentially significant influences are identified, what do you do about it? How do address, monitor, measure, and communicate the closing of these gaps? (More to come on these three points specifically and how this can be accomplished).

Moral of the story

Stakeholder disparity can have a significant impact on ERP implementation. The key lies in understating this fact, understanding the underlying influences, and implementing action to addressing and closing any disparity gaps as much as possible. The underlying tool in which to accomplish this lies in optimized communication. If what Lewis (2011) states is true (which it is) in that stakeholders assess the degree to which their stakes are competitive or complementary with other stakeholders then optimized organizational communication truly is king. And then, reasoning tells us that ERP implementation plans need concrete actions that can be taken to address this potential and highly influential gap.

Don’t cut your ERP implementation effort short. Be cognizant of the true ERP success factors and build intentional strategy into your ERP organization change plan in order to account for these true realities of any ERP project. Learn more about the complexities of managing stakeholder diversity and relationships during Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) organizational change,Stakeholder Group Diversity and Relationships in ERP“. 

A good resource to learn more on Organizational Communication by Dr. Alex Lyon:

Learn more about N&A: ERP Implementation Success