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Managing Conflict During an ERP Implementation

ConflictFor many people, the word, “conflict” probably conjures up images of screaming, yelling and maybe the occasional swordfight. While conflict does have some negative connotations, there are actually circumstances where it can be useful if managed properly. In fact, during an ERP implementation, conflict can lead to some great discussions about organizational change and business process reengineering and it can actually result in increased user acceptance and enterprise software use.

Conflict cannot be left to run wild, however. Unchecked, conflict can develop into emotional and personal attacks on the perspectives and capabilities of others. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization, team members focus on defending their own viewpoint in order to preserve their personal sense of pride. This type of conflict should be avoided during an ERP implementation – or really any large project the company undertakes – because ego should never take priority over organizational goals.

Organizations should assess the type of conflict that is brewing among their project teams and be able to differentiate between constructive conflict and emotional conflict. Unlike emotional conflict, constructive conflict is about searching for truth and finding the best way to solve a problem.

Conducting business process workshops and welcoming input from employees in a variety of departments is one example of how constructive conflict can lead to ERP success. Employees will inevitably have different viewpoints about how to improve a process and all of these viewpoints can be valuable. When organizations discourage disagreement in order to avoid conflict, the dissonance does not disappear – it is internalized as bitterness as employees become frustrated at not having a voice. This bitterness may later be manifested as change resistance because employees are more likely to reject changes that have been determined without their input than changes that came as a result of compromise.

Organizations should keep their eye out for “quiet” employees who are not sharing their opinions because silence does not always indicate agreement. If opinions are shared in the early stages of a project, organizations have more flexibility to accommodate new ideas.

To ensure that conflict contributes to ERP success, organizations must develop a comprehensive organizational change management strategy that addresses how they will manage conflict when it arises. Discouraging emotional duels and unnecessary swordfights and encouraging constructive discussion is the key to implementing an ERP system that meets both organizational goals and individual needs.

Learn more by watching our free, on-demand webinar, Organizational Change Management: A Critical (and Often Overlooked) ERP Implementation Success Factor.

Written by Jennifer Aldrich

As a creative and analytical-minded digital content strategist, Jennifer is experienced in writing, data analysis, communication strategy and social media. As the Marketing Lead at Panorama, Jennifer supports all of the company’s marketing and content development initiatives and regularly writes blog posts about best practices in organizational change management and other ERP implementation components. Jennifer holds a BA in Public Relations from Colorado State University.

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