The Most-Neglected Element of an ERP Implementation: The PeopleAlan Walsh, Owner, Huntington ConsultancyERP is a management tool for control and comprehension of a business. It’s data-heavy; requiring careful control &strong disciplines - permanently. It’s heavily integrated, so trouble in one area will flow throughout the business. Failureto exercise the control & disciplines creates a classic “garbage in, garbage out” scenario which can rapidly play havocwith your business. A healthy business can be reduced to chaos shortly after implementation.In implementing ERP, business leaders often fail to take into account the culture that’s required to achieve success.Your employees are the drivers and administrators. They must understand what it is you seek to accomplish. They mustunderstand the consequences of their actions; immediate and long-term. You must set responsibilities at theappropriate levels so that no one’s over-challenged.An ERP implementation isn’t just the installation of a system; it’s the marrying of a complex set of processes with yourbusiness. Someone needs to be managing the implementation from a macro-level to ensure that the broad businessgoals of the implementation have been defined, and are achieved. The IT people will have their hands full with thetechnical issues. Users will be concerned with learning the system. Someone needs to be concerned from a macrostandpoint to ensure that the whole time-consuming and expensive process isn’t a giant waste of time or; even worse, adisaster.An ERP implementation is stressful and demanding in and of itself. If you just “drop” it on your employees, there will beresentment & rebellion. Critical actions will be performed poorly or not at all; upsetting the whole apple cart. Culturallyprepare your employees. Teach them why it’s being done. Let them know what you’re setting out to accomplish.Impress upon them the importance of each person’s contribution. Help them embrace it. Maybe set a reward system tomotivate.ERP is a broadly-inclusive tool which involves the ongoing participation of employees at many levels throughout thecompany. It represents a big change in your way of doing business. You must make sure that those at the lower levels inparticular comprehend what they’re being asked to do; and the consequences for getting it wrong.Some employees willbe faced with an intellectual challenge on a scale they haven’t faced before. Give them time to adjust, and have peopleready to guide &coach them.Don’t rush the implementation. Respect its complexity, give people time to digest it, and don’t count on it to run yourbusiness until you’ve run sufficienttests &sanity checks.Errors will occur; especially in the beginning. I virtually guarantee it. Ferret them out ruthlessly before they becomemajor headaches.The software provider will undoubtedly have been down this road before, and can help to a certain extent; but themajor responsibility lies internally. Sooner than you prefer the vendor will move on; leaving your company pretty muchto its own devices. Be prepared.