Change Management in IT Implementations - A Primer
OCM as a Philosophy in ERP Implementations
IT Toolbox Blog (2006, PM de Kock)
During a recent ERP system implementation a relatively inexperienced project manager asked one of the “old
hands” what he would regard as a key success factor for the project. “Well, we have all the technical know how,
but that alone will not ensure success. What will make the difference is ownership from the business, trained and
committed users and a platform for ongoing learning”.
While such a statement is not unique, few project managers and teams realize that these are the key outcomes
of what is generally referred to as organizational change management. (OCM). OCM in essence should facilitate
ownership, build capacity (mostly people capacity) and ensure ongoing collaboration and learning. OCM is
however not an add on to projects. It is indeed, together with delivery of the technical solution, the other side of
the same coin, aimed at delivering a business solution. Projects, like organizations are socio-technical systems
and should provide socio-technical solutions.
The implication is that each technical intervention, milestone and deliverable should be matched and supported
by OCM, so that the “soft stuff” becomes part of the “hard stuff”. Experience show that if a technical intervention
is not supported through OCM, the inevitable result is lack of ownership, capacity and under utilization of the
system. However, if OCM is over emphasized at the cost of technical delivery, the result is often a loss of
credibility, mistrust between the implementation team members and schedule delays.
A business solution with real benefits is only possible through proper integration of OCM and technical delivery.
As such, OCM should deliver the following outcomes:
• Ownership with the business, for the new system. In this regard ownership has a stronger connotation
than buy in. Buy in implies that the business understand the need and potential benefit, while ownership
implies co-responsibility between the team and the business for delivering the envisaged benefit. This
can only be achieved through effective communication, sponsorship and change leadership;
• Capacity, which refers to the establishment and maintenance of a pool of competent users who
understand the need for the system and are willing to drive towards benefit realization. To achieve this,
OCM should provide strategies and interventions aimed at contextualizing knowledge, building
competence, managing resistance and incentivising desired behaviour;
• Ongoing collaboration and learning is aimed at facilitating the establishment of a community that enable
the ongoing generation, organizing and dissemination of knowledge to sustain the benefits of the
Not least however it should deliver an integrated solution (a technical and people solution). This implies that all
involved should be mindful that they have co-responsibility to ensure this integration. Only then will the result be
a truly business solution.