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Workforce transition management – critical to effective ERP change management and project success

ERP projects are large, complex endeavours that can reach into every corner of an organisation’s business. They have implications far beyond the deployment of software, affecting and affected by business processes, people and organisational culture.

Senior leaders and project sponsors frequently underestimate the importance and demands of effective change management in ERP projects. Change management is sometimes an afterthought or landed on the Project Manager as another task, rather than being allocated the budget, time and resources it needs.

Additionally, change management scope is often misunderstood. Stakeholder engagement, communications and training are crucial elements, of course, but so too are workforce transition management and benefits realisation planning.

What is workforce transition management and why is it important?

Workforce transition management is about preparing your people for the changes to organisational structures, roles and responsibilities required to successfully adopt your new ERP system and realise the intended benefits.

It involves identifying the changes that the new ERP system will impose on your business and assessing their impacts on existing roles, so that affected staff can be skilled and transitioned appropriately. Workforce transition management informs and affects all other aspects of change management, from stakeholder engagement and communications to training and benefits realisation planning.

Failing to properly plan and manage your workforce transition can have dire consequences for your business, despite implementing an ERP solution that may be functionally and technically perfect. These include:

  • confused, disenfranchised and inadequately trained staff;
  • sub-optimal organisational structures and resource levels;
  • poor user uptake of the new system, and a return to old practices and manual work-arounds;
  • operational delays and bottle-necks, disrupting core business and affecting customer service; and
  • failure to achieve intended financial, strategic or other benefits.

Change Management - Workforce transition management blog

Where to start?

Lumenia can help you to identify and assess the likely changes to business processes and organisational structures during the design phase of your ERP project. We help you to map those changes to existing roles in the organisation and to analyse the job impacts, which feeds into training planning and curriculum development.

Your HR team should then assist with development of detailed job transition plans for significantly impacted jobs, as these may require new position descriptions and changes to resourcing levels.

This may all sound daunting, but a structured approach to workforce transition should be part and parcel of any ERP implementation. The sooner you start thinking about it, the sooner you can mitigate the change management risks and ensure successful project outcomes.

This blog was written by Edward Abrahamson Principal Consultant at Lumenia. For further information please send an email to Edward Abrahamson or download a copy of the Lumenia Business Change Management in ERP Projects Report.