Inherent in its name, "Enterprise Software" (also known as ERP) is a software solution that will affect all aspects of a business. If you decide your company needs a fully integrated solution, the software you select will need functionality to help manage sales, accounting and financials, warehouse and operations, customer service and everything in between. Due to the impact that a decision of this magnitude will make across an organization, it is vital to ensure your employees “buy-in” to the process and understand the need for a more sophisticated software system. In order to achieve this level of acceptance, you must demonstrate the overall need and value of updating your systems and processes for a more sophisticated solution. Follow this general framework aimed at easing the transition for employees to new enterprise software.
Establish the pain-points of the business.
The main reason for any software replacement search is to eliminate unnecessary pitfalls that employees are currently facing. If a business has no pain points and is running smoothly, there would really be no need to defer from current processes. This is vital to any software search and essentially involves taking an audit of how each business unit operates. Perhaps, an employee spends a sizable amount of their work day manually emailing invoices to customers, or maybe they spend a lot of time re-keying orders into the system - both situations represent operational issues that can be avoided with the right software if properly identified early in the search. Speak with everyone from the warehouse to the accounting department to ensure you have your finger on the pulse of the business.
Gain employee approval.
Once you have established a business case for acquiring new software, it is vital to gain employee approval. Although employees have aired their grievances and shared all the difficulties they currently face, an even greater difficulty lies in trying to get employees to accept change. You will have the final say as the business owner; however, it’s your employees who will be using the software on a daily basis and you need them to buy-in from day one. In this situation, you must work closely with each department or the manager for each department depending on the size of your organization. With the information you gathered have a discussion with the relevant parties where you can outline examples of issues employees are currently dealing with and open the floor to ideas on how to alleviate these problems. By gaining valuable employee input you can establish exactly what is needed from a new enterprise software system, but you will also prepare your employees for this impending eventuality.
Involve employees in the search process.
Now that you understand the issues the business manages on a daily basis and potential solutions to those problems, it’s time to involve your employees in the software search. Perhaps you want your accounting and warehouse managers to see a live demo of the software you have been reviewing. Established ERP vendors will be able to tailor their demo to illustrate the solutions to the pain points you identified, providing a strong visual for your department managers who can in-turn filter that information to the rest of the team.
It may seem simple enough, but there is really no true black and white solution to gain employee acceptance when deciding to make a major workplace change. Every business is unique in their processes and culture, and each company will react differently to a transition from legacy software. However, the steps above should provide some valuable ideas on how to approach this transition. Your employees are the ones using the software every day; therefore, it’s important to not make it seem like this is something being forced upon them. Making a change to a more sophisticated software platform will only benefit employees in the long run, it’s up to you to make sure those benefits are clear to everyone beforehand.