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Help Me, Help You: Preparing for Large-Scale Technology Transitions: Part 3

Our last post discussed examining your organization’s culture and developing a strong internal communication strategy. Today’s post will explore the three remaining key focus areas and recommendations: documenting your current business processes, aligning your existing policies and SOP’s with the new business processes (ideally before go-live), and identifying (or creating) the unit within your organization that will manage your new ERP.

Document your current business processes.

This recommendation seems like a given for any organization. However, it is surprising how many organizations do not have clearly documented processes in the form of Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs. The lack of current-process documentation is a red flag to an implementation team. It signals that the organization will struggle with how to properly configure their new system, as there is no existing road map for how and why their current system and business processes were configured.

When asked about specific business processes and workflows during the discovery phase of a technology implementation, some organizations will indicate specific functional employees, stating that those employees have been trained and know the process rather than providing the relevant SOPs. In other words, there is no formal documentation for common business processes such as how time is entered/tracked in the payroll system or how the organization recruits, hires, and onboards new employees. These organizations rely on the institutional knowledge of key employees.

This scenario presents several challenges. First, the implementation team must have a detailed understanding of the current business processes to configure the new ERP system to meet the organization’s needs. Second, it’s difficult to start configuration planning from scratch, based on piecemeal input of the functional employees who now serve as subject matter experts. Third, the absence of written documentation often leads to confusion and guessing how a process should be configured. Finally, key employees are sometimes reluctant to share their knowledge as they fear in doing so that the new system will “take over” their jobs.

The outcome is that many organizations will struggle with configuring the new system properly, which often leads to issues after go-live when employees realize the system doesn’t actually meet their needs. Additional (and significant) expense is then incurred to re-configure specific workflows or business processes and employees lose faith in the system, leading to a lag in adoption of the new ways of doing business.


If your organization does not have SOPs developed for current-state business processes, it is worth the time and effort to create those documents in the planning stage of an implementation. Retain OCM consultants to assist. They will engage with diverse stakeholders within your organization to analyze and document current business processes. These documents then become the basis for the new business process SOPs, streamlining the process after ERP configuration and before go-live.


Update and align your organization’s existing policies and SOPs with the new business processes—before go-live.

This recommendation goes hand-in-hand with documenting current business processes. Policy-driven organizations (such as government, public utilities, and manufacturing) rely heavily on policies to ensure that work is performed according to stated principles and practices and that employees are held accountable to the outlined standards.

Fundamentally, policies provide the governance for employee work and behavior while SOPs provide the direction for how to accomplish the work. Policies and SOPs are often outdated because of the considerable time and effort involved in keeping them updated. While a new ERP system may not change the fundamental objective of a policy (accurate tracking time to ensure proper pay), in many cases it will necessitate a change to the way the policy is worded to ensure accuracy and alignment with the new business processes (entering time digitally rather than on a paper form).

The absence of updated policies and SOPs at go-live will lead to employee confusion and mistrust of the new system, as the new processes do not align with the stated policies. In a recent large-city technology implementation, policy and SOP documents were not updated prior to the deployment of the HR/Payroll phase of the system. While job aids were provided to complete distinct business processes, the lack of updated policies and SOPs led to ongoing confusion regarding proper workflow approvals, downstream impacts of certain transactions, and confusion around what guidelines employees were to follow to complete standard tasks (such as time entry, overtime requests, and leave requests).


Policy-driven organizations should consider the task of reviewing and updating policies as a distinct workstream within the implementation project. They should devote resources and time to this task early in the planning stage, so that policies and SOPs are updated properly and align with the new business processes at go-live, or shortly thereafter.


Identify (or create) the unit within your organization that will oversee and manage your new ERP.

I have worked on several cloud-based ERP implementations where the organization’s team looked puzzled when I asked, “Who will own this application/system going forward?” The response is invariably, “Why, the IT department, of course.”

An ERP system encompasses every aspect of an organization’s underlying business processes, from hiring and paying employees, to purchasing and asset management, to budget planning and grant/project management to name just a few. The key point here is that these business processes span many different functional areas, including, but not limited to, Human Resources, Procurement, Budget, Grants, and Finance.

Most organizations will state that their IT department will own the ongoing oversight of the ERP. However, the IT department often feels that “ownership” of the ERP (which are now almost exclusively cloud-based systems) should reside within the functional areas. In the absence of clear direction regarding which entity oversees what aspect of the system, the ERP becomes a “hot potato” within the organization when concrete decision-making is needed.

Cloud-based ERPs are continually updated on regular schedules. Often these updates change the way end users interact with the system, so communication and documentation must be created to inform users of the updates and the impact on their work. IT departments are traditionally ill-equipped to track and communicate system updates; so, on whom does this task fall within an organization?


Cloud-based systems present a new governance paradigm for managing technology applications that often require an organization to rethink how systems are managed within the organization. One solution is to develop a working coalition of leaders from stakeholder departments (including IT) with a clear charter that defines the decision-making process and areas of responsibility.



Modern cloud-based ERPs are revolutionizing the way organizations manage their business processes, providing unparalleled access to data while eliminating process redundancies and streamlining the way work gets done. Unfortunately, some organizations that invest heavily in these systems expect the resulting technology transformation to effortlessly fuel the organizational transformation that also must occur for a successful outcome. They neglect the people side of change that the following recommendations in this series address:

  1. Take a good look at your organization’s culture. Will it support a transformational change?
  2. Make sure you have an effective internal communications framework in place.
  3. Document your current business processes and review your policy documents.
  4. Update and align your organization’s existing policies and SOPs with the new business processes—before go-live.
  5. Identify (or create) the governance unit within your organization that will oversee and manage your new technology tool.

My advice to organizations considering a cloud-based ERP investment is not to fall into the trap of thinking that a large-scale technology transformation will have little or no impact on their organization’s people. Proactively assess your organization’s overall health and work closely with your organizational change management consultant to perform a current-state analysis, review and be open to the results and recommendations, and take the necessary actions to ensure success.