Smooth System Implementations by Marketing Benefits Internally

January 1, 2011

The benefits of ERP systems are typically pretty well known to purchasing, inventory control and manufacturing people. To others throughout the organization, however, they are often not understood or misunderstood. To get the full benefits of an ERP system integration or upgrade, it is really important to communicate the benefits to all departments.

The sales manager at a client recently said, “Instead of spending all of this money on a new system, I don’t know why we just don’t fix what we have. It worked well enough in the past. I’ll bet in the transition everything will get screwed up and we won’t get any orders out.”

This comment and lots of others like it imply that people will be inconvenienced, customer service levels could drop, too much money will be spent, and on and on.

To have a successful ERP implementation, it is very important that everyone in administrative and management positions really understand the benefits of the new system, the timing of its implementation, implications for them and their departments, and contingency plans should something go wrong.

We strongly recommend an internal marketing and communication campaign well ahead of the implementation to “sell” the system to all involved. Some of the elements of a marketing plan should include:

  • A meeting with senior managers to fully brief them on all aspects of the implementation, especially the benefits to be derived.
  • Small group meetings of affected departments (even if only modestly affected) to describe changes, impacts and their roles in the changes if any. In addition to the operations departments that are directly impacted, be sure to hold meetings with sales, order entry, customer service, finance, engineering and any others that deal with customers or any element of the supply chain—in short, almost the whole company.
  • Prepare posters for publication on Company bulletin boards. In the advance stages indicate the principal benefits to be described. As the implementation date(s) near, post timetables and alerts for significant activities. The goal is to have no surprises and to make sure everyone is fully aware of transitional activities.
  • Prepare a written communication—brief but comprehensive—that can be given to employees who are directly impacted.
  • Depending on the complexity of the changes, you may wish to appoint representatives in each department to attend more detailed meetings on new system elements so that they can answer questions as they arise in their departments.

In short, it is important to present the system in a positive but realistic way, stressing the end benefits. Be sure not to over-promise, but be conservative and hope that you can over-deliver.
Get people positive. Minimize surprises.

(Note: the consultants of the ACA Group would be happy to work with you in developing your marketing campaign and in conducting meetings to explain the implementation of the new system.)

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