How change management is affecting satisfaction with enterprise solutions

Tim Ryley
Written by

Bringing a new ERP system on board is a disruptive process for any organisation. And yet, how this disruption will affect all employees in a business is not given the attention it should be.

The State of Enterprise Software, researched Australian and New Zealand businesses using enterprise software. The quantitative data was captured via 216 structured interviews with senior technology and business executives (CIOs, CTOs, CFOs and HR directors) and with responses captured in a formal, structured survey format. The split between business executives and technology executives was approximately 60 per cent business executive, and 40 per cent technology executives. Executives were chosen from mid-to-large-sized Australian and New Zealand firms with a representative sample of industry groups.

Among their key findings was that change management challenges continue to hamper not only an ERP system's effectiveness, but overall satisfaction with it. Overcoming those challenges is down to education and communication. Just providing training is insufficient; people need to understand why the change is happening and what the benefits will be.

The report found that businesses with high satisfaction levels reported only minor frustration with getting staff to adopt new processes and innovation rates, and this was because they got everyone on board from the outset, with a shared understanding of what was changing and why. Where they did experience frustration was with the timelines of upgrades; so understandably, organisations with a preference for Software as a Service (SaaS) reported significantly less challenge with user engagement.

How the as-a-service movement is improving user satisfaction, a recent study of ANZ's executives’ attitudes, expectations and plans for enterprise solutions has revealed some low satisfaction levels, with 85 per cent of them revealing that staff engagement is one of the toughest challenges they face.  Not only that, but over 40 per cent of executives reported that getting staff to adopt the rigorous processes demanded by enterprise solutions remains a major challenge, while a further 45 per cent indicate it remains a minor challenge

This is down to ineffective change management. To successfully implement an ERP system, realise its full potential and maximise its benefits, a clear change management strategy is essential.

There are three key steps to successfully approach change management:

  • Step 1: Ensure involvement and representation
    It’s essential to start the journey of an ERP implementation by bringing on board people who will be affected by the new system. This is achieved by forming a projects team that includes representatives – we call them ‘champions’ – from all areas of the business.
  • Step 2: Shared understanding is critical
    Clear communication at all stages of the project is vital. Why is the change happening? What will it mean? How will people’s roles be affected and, most importantly, how will the change benefit the business and its employees?
  • Step 3: Equipping people to be successful
    People need to understand not only why the change is happening and what the benefits will be, but they need to be reassured that they’re not going to be chucked in at the deep end. It’s important to emphasise from the beginning that comprehensive training will be provided.

What it comes down to, is that if employees have been thrown in the deep end without any reassurance about their role, their future and how the new system will impact on their working lives, they’re less likely to use it properly.

The outcome is then fairly predictable; a business is left with a costly and disruptive system that's not delivering the full benefits that it should be, because the business’s employees are unwilling or unable to maximise its potential.


The last thing any organisation wants is to invest in a costly software system that people are reluctant to use. If you're wondering how to get your people on board, we've got a guide that can help: Software is the easy part - a guide to people management in an ERP project

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