& CHANGE MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT
What strategies and best practices do you recommend for getting users fully on board with adopting a major new system like S/4HANA?
In my experience, there is often resistance from users when an organization introduces a new system, usually because people are accustomed to and efficient with existing processes and system(s). Adults want to be viewed as competent and a new system or a new process puts that competence at risk. Additionally, the common user mindset is that technological innovations create more work. As technology professionals, we are often to blame for this impression as we lead the conversation with technology features often overlooking the impact of the implementation to the user. To combat that tendency, shift the conversation. Focus on how the new solution benefits users and how the implementation of said solution will help users and the company. Bring the business into discussions early and rethink processes when necessary. Communication across all channels is critical, with repetitive messaging about the system implementation, timing, impact, and expectations. Identifying and including informal leaders as power users early provides the project team with business insights at important development junctures and onboarding support post-launch. Tracking metrics like help tickets and the level of comfort users have with executing tasks in the system highlight gaps that may require more training.
Bring the business into discussions early and rethink processes when necessary. Communication across all channels is critical, with repetitive messaging about the system implementation, timing, impact, and expectations.
Two metrics I closely monitor are the length of time needed for heightened go-live support and user productivity with the new system after implementation.
What KPIs have you found most useful for measuring the success of training and change management during an SAP implementation?
Two metrics I closely monitor are the length of time needed for heightened go-live support and user productivity with the new system after implementation. Longer support periods signal challenges in transitioning users and gaps in preparedness. Lagging productivity indicates people are still learning the system. Both point to areas that may need more training or change management focus.
Could you walk through your approach for developing a change management communications strategy across the various phases of a major SAP rollout?
The channels and frequency used shift with the rollout stages. In the early stages, focus on high-level newsletters to build general awareness. As launch nears, blanket all channels with repetitive key messaging. During go-live, people are getting used to doing their jobs in ‘this new system’, so provide encouragement, monitor and communicate the key successes, and provide intentional and focused hands-on support. Post-implementation, I transition to regular usage tips and proficiency reinforcement while soliciting user feedback on gaps. Utilize, if you can, different formats like text, visuals, video, and interactive sessions to appeal to varying preferences. The goal is to match communications to the needs of each phase, from general understanding to hyper-targeted information to ongoing refinement.
The goal is to match communications to the needs of each phase, from general understanding to hyper-targeted information to ongoing refinement.
The overarching goal is to develop a network of power users who can credibly demonstrate new processes and troubleshoot issues within their teams before, during, and after implementation. Select well. These people become the go-to advocates and coaches to sustain adoption.
How do you identify and prepare power users to support adoption of new systems?
Identifying the right power users is crucial. I look for influential subject matter experts who have a solid grasp of current processes and are interested in learning the new system. They need to be open to change themselves before advocating it to others. I also look for respected team leads and managers who can serve as change champions to reinforce the transition.
Once identified, engage power users early, even during design sessions, to get their input and buy-in. Provide them with extra training focused not just on the new system itself, but also change management, training, and personal development. Keep them in the ‘communication loop’. These opportunities equip them to have sensitive conversations with reluctant colleagues and be the change champion you need. The overarching goal is to develop a network of power users who can credibly demonstrate new processes and troubleshoot issues within their teams before, during, and after implementation. Select well. These people become the team’s go-to advocates and coaches to sustain adoption. They are the voice of the team, and they are key.
What are some best practices you'd recommend for sustaining user adoption post-implementation?
There are a few key strategies I'd highlight. First, continue communicating through ongoing tips, FAQs, reminders etc. to embed the changes. Make adoption a perpetual focus, not just something that happens during launch. Track help desk metrics to identify where users may be struggling or need more training. Conduct periodic refresher sessions to ensure knowledge retention and continue the learning. Create user-focused performance support documentation; reference documents that can be used in the ‘time of need’, and identify who will maintain training or support materials once the project phase is complete.
Maintaining networks of power and super users is also essential. These individuals provide internal support long after the project ‘goes-live’. They can surface adoption barriers or emerging needs. Finally, use periodic user surveys and focus groups to gather direct feedback on improvements needed to support and sustain adoption. Implementation is just the beginning - you need iterative follow-through to achieve lasting results. Adoption requires ongoing change management and support and does not stop with project-oriented activities.
Cindy Colbert is an expert in training, leadership development, and change management, with a focus on ensuring the successful adoption of ERP systems like SAP and Oracle. Through her work as an HCM consultant and leading large-scale technology implementations, she has developed a passion for blending technology rollouts with customized training and change management. Her core role is a Senior Training and Change Management Consultant.