Change management when introducing a new ERP system

Practical tips for successfully introducing changes

If it is announced that something is changing, employee emotions such as fear, doubt and rejection are normal and important to enable change. Above all, the affected employees want to know what to expect and what they should change.

Brief information about this is usually not enough. Because said does not mean heard and heard does not mean understood. Supervisors have to deal with the new project every day – the affected employees do not. For many people it takes a lot of effort to accept new IT technologies, even if they work better. Sufficient involvement of employees in the change process has proven to be a key factor for the successful implementation of an ERP project. Ultimately, the end users are the ones who decide on the success and failure of the new ERP system.

Therefore, some practical measures are mentioned here that have proven to be useful when introducing a new ERP system.

1. Timely information and vision

The manager should announce the news of the change to all employees as early as possible. Information two weeks before the start of the project is inconvenient and difficult to plan. Therefore, communication should take place several weeks in advance. Emphasize that change is inevitable and why this change is so important for the company. People primarily accept goals/changes when they consider them meaningful and necessary.

To do this, the manager must present an attractive vision with the new change. (E.g. “The new system brings with it many advantages and optimizations. The walking distances are shorter, errors are reduced…etc.”)

2. Workshop

Before the project starts, the affected employees can be explained in a short workshop (kick-off) what kind of change they will face (approx. 1 hour). Fears and anxieties, but also expectations, can also be addressed.

The following is important to note:

  • Take employees seriously
    Common concerns include: What will change where I work? Will it still need me? What if I can’t handle the new system? The managers must send a clear signal: We have heard you, we take your concerns seriously and, above all, we provide answers!
  • Communicate clearly what will change
    Employees expect clear statements and concepts for the “new” job from managers. What will change for them? Nothing to sugarcoat here. Show transparently which work will be eliminated and which will be added. A video of how the new system works can also be shown here.
  • Emphasize the importance of employees
    If you can convince the end users of the new system that their contribution to the change is important, this will have a beneficial effect on motivation.


3. Regular exchange
The new project should be reported on again and again at regular meetings. Even when drinking coffee together. However, make sure that all affected employees are present.


4. Agile project management
Set up clear sub-goals on the path to innovation and change. Achieving the sub-goals then increases the motivation to achieve the next goals (keyword: agile project management). Employees should be regularly informed about the achievement of milestones. (E.g. “The warehouse has been labeled. The material for picking is there. The training was successful”). This feeling of being included also promotes motivation.


5. Be a role model
The manager should always be convinced of the innovation/change. Insecurities and dissatisfaction on the part of the manager are quickly transmitted to the employees and can disrupt the change process and even generate resistance.


6. Training
Training for the new system is essential. Sufficient time must be planned for training and practical training opportunities. Announce the training early and involve all affected employees.


7. Show contact point
Employees should always know: Where can I go as an employee if I have problems/difficulties with the new system? Where do I get help? This increases the manageability of the new system and has a positive effect on motivation.


8. Make documentation and self-help materials freely accessible
Keyword: Help for self-help. Before employees immediately pick up the phone or write an email because something isn’t working, make sure that they have the opportunity to find out more in the documentation or self-help documents of the new ERP system. 

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