Part 2 – Setting the Tone with Key Member Buy-In

Last week we talked about how a layered approach to implementation is easing the pain of transitioning to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. The technology, itself, presents a fairly easy hurdle to clear. However, “user acceptance” is always one of the most difficult challenges to overcome, despite the promised benefits and efficiency upgrades. In fact, the Forbes Technology Council recently ranked “user acceptance, workflow issues, unknown dependencies” and “not planning for it” as the first four challenges “to think about when upgrading from legacy systems.”

Quite frankly, few like change, especially when it disrupts accepted, workable practices and accompanies any measure of downtime or new training procedures. In addition, most users do not enjoy being forced to move from their comfort zones after years of trial and error with present systems. There’s no surer way to trigger dissent than to thrust a new technology on employees without their consent and input.

Where past conversions were performed through a downward push of untested technologies by senior management,  today the most effective conversions begin with a bottom-up approach that engages day-to-day users and builds upon their experiences and insights to create operational shortcuts, instills programming efficiencies and fixes broken processes. This starts with the development of a planning team that thoroughly understands organizational needs and generates companywide excitement, while dealing with any concerns or disruptions along the way.

It’s imperative to involve every department affected by the upgrade in its planning and implementation. Led by a project manager and c-level sponsorship, this not only involves the development of a team of tech-savvy individuals who grasp and embrace the new solution’s value, but also the most resistant so they can actively participate in the process and experience the system’s time- and cost-saving advantages from the ground up.

The McKinsey Global Institute recently estimated that the successful implementation of digital technologies “can result in productivity gains of 14 to 15 percent and cost reductions of 4 to 6 percent.” This mostly centers on the fixing of pain points; promoting collaboration; reskilling and restructuring the engineering teams; adjusting project baselines to capture key corporate data or values; and connecting projects to “unlock impact across the enterprise.”

Furthermore, most employees will understand and appreciate that the move towards a digital business economy can produce numerous sustainability, cost- and time-saving benefits for companies still entrenched in a “paper culture.” In fact, another McKinsey report found that “employees spend 1.8 hours every day – 9.3 hours per week, on average – searching and gathering information.” Construction expert Houston Neal also calculated that the construction industry prints an average of 37 million blueprints every year. At a price of about 50 cents for every black-and-white document printed on 20#, 18×24 paper, this translates into about $18.5 million and the death of approximately 42,000 trees.

The takeaway? Today’s high-end implementations are no longer the painful, time-consuming and disruptive adventures that many construction and development companies were subjected to years ago. The key is in the planning and ability to strategically and logically expand and comport to the growing needs of organizations operating in an ever-changing marketplace. For construction contractors and developers, this often entails working side by side with trusted partners to create solutions that fix glaring weaknesses first and then systematically roll out a succession of enhancements that reduce cost and waste, build employee confidence and prepare for the next growth stage.