Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, such as S/4HANA, can be a transformative endeavour for any business. However, it is crucial to recognise the potential pitfalls and challenges that can arise during such programmes. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 business change considerations for ERP programmes and discuss how addressing these challenges can contribute to a successful implementation.
1. Visible Executive alignment and change leadership:
One of the critical factors for success is having visible executive alignment and change leadership. It is essential to engage leaders on the purpose and benefits of the ERP system, creating an inspirational narrative that motivates the user community. Successful programmes often designate a senior business sponsor who actively works alongside the technology sponsor to ensure a balanced approach.
2. Meaningful business engagement and involvement in the change:
To foster a culture of co-creation and ensure successful adoption, businesses must involve stakeholders and employees in the change process. Co-creation of the solution, including the future experience for employees and key stakeholder groups, can enable overall business outcomes and benefits. It is crucial to engage with stakeholders throughout the programme lifecycle.
3. Ensure that the solution is business-led:
A common misconception is viewing ERP programmes as purely technology-driven initiatives. It is important to clarify whether the project focuses solely on migration or includes broader transformation objectives. By defining the scope and risks upfront, businesses can ensure a smoother transition. Limiting change to process and system changes while retaining job roles, organisational structures, and operational models can reduce complexity and associated risks.
4. Dedicate resource and focus on managing the people side of change:
Balancing the emphasis between solution elements and change management is crucial. While it’s natural to prioritise the technical aspects, the people side of change should not be overlooked. Establishing a robust change management strategy that aligns with the overall project migration strategy is essential. Integration of the change workstream with the main solution delivery teams ensures collaboration and avoids silos.
5. Adopt standardised business processes where possible:
Driving user adoption of standardised business processes can be challenging. Businesses should not underestimate the importance of training solutions and their alignment with central system processes. A thoughtful approach is needed to address local customisations and provide context-specific content while ensuring adherence to standardised processes.
6. Consider regional cultures and ways of working:
When implementing ERP systems across multiple geographies, cultural differences and local working practices must be considered. Time zones, collaboration tools, and on-site visits can facilitate effective collaboration and ensure smooth adoption of the future solution and standardised processes.
7. Document the solution and business change process for onward use:
Adequate documentation is vital for ensuring the sustainability of the ERP system. Technical teams should produce comprehensive solution and process documentation to support business change activities and provide guidance for future enhancements and maintenance.
8. Leverage Fiori, or similar, and ad-hoc user adoption:
The transition to S/4HANA often involves a wider adoption of Fiori, a user-friendly interface. Focusing on enabling ad-hoc user communities to access S/4HANA via Fiori can relieve the workload on professional end users and promote greater system utilisation and productivity.
9. Exploit data and analysis capabilities:
The move to S/4HANA presents opportunities to leverage real-time data capabilities for enhanced analysis and decision-making. While not feasible to deliver on day one, organisations should plan a phase two to explore the potential benefits and drive data-driven insights to maximise the value of the ERP system.
10. Linking change management to integration strategy:
ERP implementations provide an opportunity to rationalise the application landscape and integrate non-SAP legacy applications into S/4HANA. This integration can streamline processes and yield significant benefits for end users. However, it is crucial to account for the increased scope of change for end users and ensure that change management efforts are aligned with the integration strategy.
Implementing an ERP system is a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration of business change elements. By addressing these top 10 business change considerations, organisations can enhance their chance of delivering a successful ERP programme. From aligning executives and engaging stakeholders to emphasising change management and leveraging the full potential of the ERP system, a holistic approach is key to realising the intended benefits of the transformation.
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