Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Angels of change

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 2

Any change to the existing system is always resisted and feared.

It is the basic human nature that the very thought of making a change in life can be so intimidating that even though you want to be the master of your own destiny, you'll end up doing nothing, simply because you are so afraid of that change. As the old proverb says, “The Devil you know is better than the one you don’t”. This great fear of the unknown causes people not to take chances and to stay in situations where they’re not very happy.

Same is the case with modern enterprises. Here software automates a wide variety of business processes and a change made to the software, in effect, means the change to the business process itself. This is always resisted and feared and this is where the techniques and experts of change management process come in to picture.

Why fear for change?

Again due to human nature, as soon as people think about change they start playing the ‘what if?’ game.
• What if I make a mistake?
• What if it’s worse than what I have now?
• What if I fail?

In case of software change, to add to the pain, there are a set of known devils that is expected and feared by the management. Like;

· Poor Software quality

· Dissatisfied Business Customers

· Unnecessary Reworks

· Misses Deadlines

· Higher Costs

· Filed Changes

· Downtime in Production environment

How to address this?

There are some proactive steps required to counteract on the resistance, ignorance and denial for changes in corporate society. As popularly told, Change management is 80% art and 20% science, and the science part of it almost begins with recruiting an Executive Champion or a Change Implementer.

Now what is the role of a change implementer, apart from rolling out, training and supporting the change? There are many;

  • Inspiring people to move; increasing the urgency by making the objectives real, relevant and measurable; so that each of the members can see their own progress towards the objective the speed of progress and the benefits.
  • Establish the right vision and strategy with focus on emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.
  • Communicate and get the buy-in. involve as many people as possible, communicate the essentials in a manner which is simple and with appeal. Make technology work for you, not against you.
  • Empower action, remove obstacles, and enable constructive feedbacks and lots of support from leaders. Reward and recognize progress and achievements
  • Highlight achieved milestones and the ones coming up. Encourage determination, persistence and ongoing progress reporting
  • Reinforce the value of successful change by getting more change agents from the existing user group and wave changes to culture.

In short, what is the role of a change implementer in corporate society?

They are the ones helping people to go through the feared process of change with confidence and ease. They offer a helping hand to everyone in need during the journey of change towards a better tomorrow. They are the right hand of the one who controls the change, they are angels; Angels of Change.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The 'Objective Oriented' Training

Friday, June 26, 2009 0
End user Training is one of the most important and commonly neglected step in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution implementation. Due to the inherent human nature of reluctance to change and fear of failure; ERP implementation in any organization has never been much welcomed by the employees, anywhere in the world. And to make it worse; every ERP implementation comes with a set of business process re-engineering and these changes in process is expected to be communicated to the users through these trainings. All these factors, in different degrees, contribute to the complexity of this activity. Interestingly a poorly executed end user training has significant role to play in failure of an implementation and as a result, reduced or zero return on investment of an ERP product.
Some of the common factors those hinder the end user training success are;
Less importance to the training: - Ironically, while companies spend whopping amounts to buy ERP software and its implementation; end user training is usually neglected. Adequate budgets are not allocated and training is conducted as mere procedure compliance.

Not addressing operational issues: - Often emphasis is more on the technical aspects of the solution and training becomes more software functionality oriented, without any application of what happens in real business situations. Here employees get to understand everything during training, but problems arise when they try to use the solution during their regular course of business.

Absence of a holistic view of operations: - Since ERP solutions call for lot of coordination between employees and departments, it is essential for everybody to have a holistic view of the solution. When employees tend to neglect this and specialize it for the heck of completing their area of operations, ERP solution will not deliver the desired result.

Given enough emphasis and adequate budget, the best approach for an effective end user training could be when the training is delivered to cover all reasons and the objectives of the implementation, defined during the initial phase or when the training is “Objective Oriented”.
How do we make a training objective oriented? Some simple techniques could be;

Communicate the vision: - Implementation of an ERP solution seeks to streamline and integrate operation processes and information flow in the company to synergize the resources of an organization- namely men, material, money and machine- through information. Communicate well before hand to every user, the altered operational flow, expected benefit to organization and role of the end user in making this successful. This will keep the enthusiasm level of the user high.
Operation oriented training: - Training should be ‘operation oriented’. Instead of explaining the functionalities of the software, trainer should come down to ground level and explain how the system should be used in actual scenario; also the benefit to the user and things that user should take care while using. To achieve this there should be a set of carefully prepared, reviewed and agreed training material made available to the trainees before attending the training.
Complete training: - Each user should be trained on every part of the application that he or she may use/ see. In another words, no user should have access to any part of the application, which he or she is not trained on. Take a note that inappropriate usage of the application and incorrect data input can mess up the entire report information; resulting in incorrect representation of the facts at various levels.
Trainer’s awareness of as-is and to-be processes: - Trainer should be aware of the process as-is and to-be. This will help him (or her) to understand the results of implementing a different business process. It will also enable the trainer to conduct a more ‘Operation Oriented’ training. A well defined and documented set of implementation objectives should be the base of that clear understanding.
If a poorly executed training can cause a failed implementation, a properly planned training program will help it succeed by helping the trainees to make consistent progress and avoiding lack of enthusiasm. Just keep in mind that the training is the phase where the entire solution, which was in making till now - behind the scenes with all the hard work- is being presented in front of the audience; like the first screening of a movie. This is when every stake holders get a complete view of the beautiful solution you have architected and this show must be executed to perfection.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Business Process Re-Engineering and ERP Implementation

Thursday, May 28, 2009 0
Much has been written about the failure of Enterprise Resource Planning system implementation. Companies spending a fortune on ERP software implementation, only to find that the business performance has not improved at all. These large investment and negative ROIs have created a whirlpool of controversies; rampant company policies and even a number of lawsuits. For some, these have created a fear about making a big ERP mistake.
Most of the time ERP software vendors are the targets for blame when the anticipated results do not materialize.
While some companies see that the successful implementation of the system is quickly met, why others struggle with incomplete implementations and tenuous results? Is the ERP software or the software vendors the real culprits for the lack of business performance improvement? Let’s explore;
An ERP solution, successfully implemented, positively alerts the way company manages its back office, enabling it to enhance planning, execution, management, and control over a wide range of critical processes. However, it also depends on how much the system is accepted within the organization and how effectively the migration from old systems to new system is managed.
Certainly, it can often be argued that ERP system logic is sometimes illogical, functionality is missing, functions perform poorly and so on. But the accountability for the success lies to varying degree with the implementation of the new system and the business process re-engineering that goes with it; which is unquestionably a complex undertaking.
What we need is a new system” is the suggestion that comes up very often while discussing about the operational problems. At first glance, an ERP system will potentially solve many issues a company may have. However, upon careful analysis, if a company has significant process issues, a new system alone may not solve any of its problems. It may simply represent a new or different way to do exactly what was done before.

So often the systems are both blamed and suggested as the remedy for the ills of simply bad business process. As the famous quote, “a combination of old organization and a new system results only in an expensive old organization”
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