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In this special blog series, we’ll be discussing common challenges we’ve seen in our 25 years deploying ERP systems for manufacturers big and small.
As your launch date approaches, and even in the weeks that follow, there may be members of your workforce who are “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Your employees are smart enough to know that an ERP system is going to rock their professional world in new and profound ways. What they aren’t sure of is how it will impact their role and status at the company.
We’ve touched on some of these fears in an earlier blog, but as we close out our series on barriers to ERP success, we want to remind readers that at the end of the day, an ERP system is only as good as its application. To maximize productivity and value, be cognizant of ongoing anxieties your workforce may be facing. By addressing them directly, you’ll be better positioned to foster harmony between your new system and its users.
Job loss concerns
It’s a time-worn, albeit understandable, concern that when computers get involved, the need for human input will be diminished. This leads many employees to think that once processes become more automated, there is bound to be downsizing. If you are certain this is not part of the plan at your company, then it’s important to quell employees’ concerns of job loss. This will abate resistance and encourage them to see process improvements as a boon rather than a threat. In addition, it will mitigate the health risks associated with fear of job insecurity, including depression.
Fear of becoming redundant or devalued
Even if employees feel assured that they will not lose their jobs, they may fear that their value at the company will be reduced. After all, if they’ve spent their time following a carefully crafted manual process, then seeing it swapped out for an automated protocol could be unsettling. Instead, employers must shift the focus to how learning modern, ERP-driven methods will benefit not only the company but also the employee. If they are willing to embrace computerized processes and learn the ins and outs of a system being adopted by most businesses in their field, this can only advance their career long term. New, sought-after skills may lead to a higher position or increased salary along their career path.
Disdain for “Big Brother”
Often, the idea that a computer is going to dictate and track mission-critical processes is not a welcome one for employees. For many, their way of doing business is something they’ve honed over many years. Moving from a method they’ve “owned” to a standard, shared business process can be difficult to swallow. In other cases, employees may have enjoyed highlighting their expertise and soft skills in troubleshooting spontaneous issues – issues that may now be resolved through automation. Again, it’s important to emphasize the value of the employee’s deep-seeded knowledge of their job function and to demonstrate that although a new software is being adopted, their institutional expertise is not being undermined.
The moral of the story: after your go-live date has come and gone, do your best to keep your employees’ lingering anxieties in check. Just as they are waiting for the other shoe to drop, so should you be wary of the impact of workforce resistance post-launch. Remember, you’ll need all hands on deck for your ERP-enabled operations to become the well-oiled machine you’ve been dreaming of.