News flash: major ERP and CRM publisher agrees with this headline. For real.

In the last 2 weeks one of the 5 big ERP/CRM software publishers went on record with key resellers and integrators to formally recommend they provide consulting for Change Management (herein: “CM”) as part of their standard project methodology. This publisher made it clear that CM is so vital to the success of software implementation projects that they recommended specific professional methodologies to study and offered assistance to get this initiative underway.

Do you think they are reducing their risk profile? You bet, and wisely so. Publishers get blamed for failed projects all the time – regardless of fault.

We don’t care what prompted this direction from this publisher – we truly applaud it. It’s high time that CM is incorporated into publisher-endorsed implementation methodologies.  CM focuses on the “People” aspect of a project. It saves projects from failing – and enhances adoption and utilization of the product. We already include it in our methodologies that support clients along all steps in their Digital Transformation path; we’re happy to see the endorsement from a big publisher.

However – CM in the context of a software implementation is not well understood by those that haven’t experienced it. So – a brief primer on CM is warranted:

CM around system implementation, explained briefly:  professionals trained in CM, working alongside product-specific software implementation specialists, ensure that company leadership, project sponsors, department leaders, subject matter experts and other end users are aware of, and working from the same objectives and seeking the same outcomes from the implementation project. Outcomes such as:  Staff at all levels of the business are aligned with “why” the project is happening, the impact it will have on the business, what it means to their jobs and functions as well as those of others.   Additional outcomes include a comprehensive understanding of how the implementation project will be executed, a collaborative working environment among customer and implementation vendor, and an effectively trained user community.

Defining CM in a few sentences makes it sound relatively simple, right? Far from it. Getting everyone associated with an implementation project to focus beyond the triumvirate of Scope, Time and Budget is really challenging!  It’s just not what most technology professionals practice, or preach. So, logically – without CM’s People element included with Scope, Time and Budget considerations, projects often fail. Yet, CM is frequently the first component of an implementation budget to be cut.  Entirely. Usually by those that have not seen the benefits of CM.

Are you about to undertake a (naturally disruptive) ERP or CRM implementation? Please do yourselves a favor – consider retaining Change Management specialists that focus heavily on managing the softer side of software project – you’ll increase your likelihood of success, dramatically. Even the large publishers are endorsing this process. The firms that implement software in the mid-market don’t usually provide this formal type of advisory. If your implementation firm doesn’t provide formal CM, we’ve got you covered with an experienced group inside our broader Digital Transformation team. We’d be happy to talk through how it can help your implementation.

By way of background – our Digital Transformation team has successfully advised management teams for many years around technology, key initiatives and change – we’re objective and independent – and as such don’t sell software or product-specific implementation services. We start with strategy, continue through requirements and evaluation, implementation and ultimately adoption and sustainability.  As you’d suspect, CM methodologies are comprehensively integrated throughout this advisory approach.

Thanks for reading. And, thanks to the big publisher for making this a higher priority towards customer success.

Bob Green | CPA.CITP, CGMA – SingerLewak, LLP

Lead Partner | Business Risk and Technology Services

[email protected]