Building an ERP Culture

This article explains how ERP can be internalized in an organisation . Best practices from a real corporate case-study are used.

 · 5 min read

Not many people talk about building an ERP culture. People generally wish to have a quality culture, a learning culture, an ethically sound culture or any other culture. Consciously building an ERP culture is a rare occurrence. But, if you have subscribed to an ERP for your company, then it is a good idea to inculcate an ERP culture.

An ERP will weave your entire business onto a single platform. It will integrate Accounts, Stock Management, Customer Service and Human Resource along with other functions. Departments will share data seamlessly among themselves. You will get a complete view of your company and its traction at any point. While an ERP is eligible to do all these things, it will not do them if your employees don’t want to do them. ERP’s don't have intent, only the people who work on them do. To create this intent a supportive culture is worth developing.

To develop an ERP culture, I am postulating a few practices from a Six Sigma Initiative . I have used this Initiative as a culture change methodology rather than a variation reduction tool or a process improvement program. I have gone through the Six-Sigma Black Belt training and have worked for a consulting firm that built organisational cultures. As a result of my interactions with them, I learnt of an initiative by a company who set out to implement Six Sigma, and as a result, got an improvement culture with a problem-solving mindset for their employees. I have mapped their practices and advised a parallel approach for an ERP culture building program. Some of their best practices are given below :

  1. Initiate organisation wide program.
    The Six Sigma project, I am referring to, got launched as a country-wide project and was not restricted to 1-2 locations. They assigned projects and selected teams at different locations and began the process of Six-Sigma education and problem-solving at a macrolevel. Every department got involved. Each department selected their problems and their Champions*. Thus, there was a mass movement to implement Six-Sigma.

    Similarly, when you decide to go for an ERP, make it mandatory for all the departments to use the system. Do not think you will apply it in one department and then duplicate it for another, after some time. This kind of approach will take you a long-long time to build an ERP culture. Employees may also think that management is not clear in their thoughts and hence doing a pilot project . Make everybody jump on to the change initiative at one go.

  2. Expose more users to the methodology to create an internal ecosystem.
    The more users you create, the more chances there are of developing skilled staff to help other users. People have varying learning curves . Some like deciphering systems and others like ready-made help. If many people in your organisation become users, some will learn, others will take help from the learned. Just like there are Champions, Black Belts, Green Belts* and project team members in a Six-Sigma deployment plan, create your own levels of ERP certified members. The Champion is responsible for getting all the sanctions and permissions. The Black Belts lead the project and spearhead the teams. The Green Belts help in data collection and monitoring the actual ground work.

    If you designate a team to monitor ERP progress and create leaders to train and guide other employees, the progress will be faster and visible.

  3. Create a rewards and recognition system.
    The Quality team announced competition among different regions to select best projects. The best problem solvers got rewards. The project who saved maximum amount of money got recognition. The team put up dashboards to show the service level agreements (SLA) and their turnaround times (TAT). This step made the teams efforts visible to everybody.

    Similarly, to generate interest and motivate your employees to use ERP, introduce a rewards and recognition system. Rewards need not be monetary. Recognise the individual in your organisation who emerges as the ‘system-expert’. Give credit to the department who masters the ERP usage and deployment successfully. Make your departments compete for the title of ‘ERP-KING’.

  4. Create an internal ticket solving team.
    The Quality team introduced this initiative to a large number of employees. The people who were data-driven and had problem solving skills, were able to guide the less skilled and thus the impact was far-reaching. The employees with statistical background helped others with non stats knowledge. The people who were proficient in excel and minitab helped in data crunching. The functional experts gave their domain-specific expertise. Thus a combination of skill-sets pushed the whole project towards completion.

    Internal experts can solve user issues faster than outer support, due to the in-depth functional and business knowledge. Thus, if you encourage more users and all the departments to use ERP, you will be able to create an internal pool of experts to solve user based issues. In a few months your organisation will be ERP compliant and function seamlessly without much external support.

  5. Drive the culture change by creating titles, punch-lines and theme based games.
    The Quality team spread their statistical awareness by making employees play games designed on Las-Vegas and Casino’s theme. Employees played the Roulette* and betting games based on the theory of probability*.

    Similarly an ERP culture building exercise could use some tricks from the field of product branding as the advertisement that says, eat cricket, drink cricket and sleep cricket. Your motto could be ‘eat ERP, drink ERP, and sleep ERP’. Use drama and theatrics to energize your teams.

You can apply the practices followed by this Quality team and replicate an ERP culture in your organisations. After consistent use of ERP and creating a sense of urgency in implementation, ERP will become a part of your operations. Using ERP will almost be like brushing your teeth everyday. It will be daily, automatic and will give long-term benefits.

Moral of the story is make a BIG DEAL about the initiative. Soon, working on ERP will be No BIG DEAL!


Glossary

  1. Six Sigma Black Belt: A Six Sigma Black Belt is a specialist who saves the company money. The job of the Black Belt consists of analyzing business and operations processes and suggest implementation methods to minimize variations in business processes.
  2. Green Belt: Six Sigma green belts offer support to the black belts, and as such, are responsible for doing all of the legwork in the project. This means collecting data, and initiating experiments for the black belt project. Green belts spend a fourth of their time working their own projects, while supporting larger black belt projects, all the time employing Six Sigma problem solving and utilizing Six Sigma statistical tools.
  3. Champion: The Project Champion is generally a senior management person responsible for identifying the Six Sigma Project and making it an organization reality .
  4. Roulette: Roulette is a casino game. In this game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, the colors red or black, or whether the number is odd or even.
  5. Theory of Probability: Probability theory is the branch of mathematics concerned with probability, the analysis of random phenomena.The central objects of probability theory are mathematical abstractions of non-deterministic events or measured quantities that may either be single occurrences or evolve over time in an apparently random fashion. If an individual coin toss or the roll of dice is a random event, then if repeated many times the sequence will exhibit certain patterns, which could be studied and predicted.

Priya Shrivastava

Priya is a philosopher by education, writer and editor by profession and a loving mother by disposition.

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