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How does SAP change management affect adoption?

Companies that want to ensure a successful SAP implementation should also focus on organizational change management. Here's advice on how to do so.

SAP implementation is an inherently complex and difficult process for any company. Success ultimately rests on the end users who do -- or do not -- adopt the new system and use it as intended. For that reason, organizational change management (OCM) specifically related to SAP deployments, or SAP change management, is crucial. SAP change management initiatives cover issues such as communication and changes in cultural processes, all of which affect deploying a highly integrated ERP such as SAP. Indeed, companies that create such initiatives reap far greater, longer-lasting business benefits than those that don't. To that end, below are four keys to effective SAP change management.

Identifying process owners and advocates

Successful SAP deployment requires much more than placing a few marketing gizmos at various physical locations to announce the selection and then the implementation of a new ERP  system. It requires proactive strategies and process owners as part of getting users on board. The SAP systems integrator (SI) is not likely to lead an OCM initiative, since it will be least affected by how the new system changes company processes. Instead, companies might consider bringing in a specialized OCM consulting company as part of the SAP implementation, conducting focus group meetings, and engaging change agents who will proactively promote the new ERP system and be the first point of contact with the SI, business users and other stakeholders.  

Communicating changes in roles and responsibilities

As a way to streamline business processes, implementing business application software such as SAP most certainly entails adopting and adapting to SAP best practices. However, this often also means there'll be new divisions of roles and responsibilities to cater to SAP requirements, which can lead to internal conflicts among various stakeholders. That's why effectively communicating alterations in roles and responsibilities and providing tailored training are key to SAP change management.  

Providing education on new reports and features

Companies often fail to communicate that implementing a new ERP system is also an excellent opportunity to simplify complex processes to eliminate or minimize manual work. For this reason, OCM initiatives related to SAP deployment should also include training in and advocating the use of standard reports and features instead of custom-developed ones.

Involving users

An ERP implementation benefits greatly from user participation. Indeed, when business process owners are asked to evaluate the business benefits they'll reap from an SAP system, their buy-in of the new ERP system increases greatly. They also begin to act as change agents of the new ERP system, thus helping promote its adoption.

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