Did you know modern organizations undergo major change on average every 3 years? And this doesn't account for the continual "small" changes institutions make or those imposed externally (like drastic state budget cuts). Change occurs for a variety of reasons, many of them in evidence at Lone Star right now: the challenges of growth, new leadership, strategic innovation, technology enhancements and improved business processes. No wonder we need chocolate: we are stressed!
Anyone who has ever survived the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can tell you, it's not about the technology, it's about the people. Replacing several legacy systems with a single integrated one for managing operations across every discipline - finance, human resources, procurement, and student services - is challenging even for institutions with generous information technology budgets and a hefty staff. It becomes even more daunting in large organizations like Lone Star because ERP is so intertwined with business processes. Implementing a new ERP system effectively means changing the daily activities and behaviors of everyone.
Generally, we don't like to hear the word change. You get a call from your bank: "Please come in and change your debit card password." Or your doctor: "We'll need to change your medication." In a work environment, "change" takes on a myriad of awful meanings like: layoffs, reorganization, pay cuts. People have learned that when the word "change" is used they should expect the 'bad' and then plan for the 'worst.' For many of us, the prospect of change also produces stress or tension. Willie Pietersen, of the Journal of Business Strategy, has this perception on the change process, "For many people the specter of change produces what's sometimes called the FUD Factor: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt."
Have you considered that to change is to suffer "loss?" We lose certainty, the comfort of the known and the familiar. We lose the sense of competency, the security and the status we enjoy in the existing order. And when change is being imposed upon us (as is often the case in an ERP implementation), we lose the sense of control. Does any of this ring true for you?
Personal change – There are lots of techniques to help us manage change but all the research and writing on the topic supports one central theme: change is personal and we must choose it in order for it to be successful. When we get caught up in resistance, denial and defensiveness, change cannot happen. We must willingly agree to begin the journey if we want to be successful in transforming ourselves and the organization. Change can start in small, incremental ways – changing one's mind, one's assumptions, one's worldview, making a decision or creating a strategy. It's here that individuals must willingly choose to "look inside," to explore what threatens their self-esteem, their confidence, and face their fears head-on. It's here that one can eliminate self-destructive and self-sabotaging patterns of behavior and begin to engage in new behaviors that are both self-supporting and supportive of the organization.
Having managed change for a number of large ERP projects in my career, I know what many Lone Star employees are feeling. Letting go of processes you know well – perhaps even helped develop – is difficult. Feeling comfortable with a new ERP and the many changes it brings takes time. The good news is this: Lone Star's ERP implementation is temporary, but learning how to embrace change is a life skill we will use throughout our lives. This is one of the fastest, most well implemented ERP projects I've been involved with and I'm honored to be a part of it. I am amazed by the level of commitment and dedication of the project teams and those learning the new system. Keep up the great work everyone, there's light at the end of the tunnel!
Contributed by Gayla Napier,
Oracle Change Management Consultant
and iStar project lead