Change management in a global Dynamics NAV project

Change Management is a continuous process of special importance in international companies. Obviously, it becomes vitally important when the change involves the global standardization process of the ERP systems used in various subsidiaries. However, international companies have to deal with such changes on an ongoing basis.

Change Management is a complex issue which is approached from multiple perspectives by different persons in the organization. That is why, I would also like to discuss various aspects of the issue, i.e. to present Change Management in a global project not as a methodological and structured tactic but as a set of best practices which lead to project success. The issue is of critical importance, because Microsoft Dynamics NAV implies an immense organizational change.

Studies show that in most organizations,

2/3

transformation initiatives fail.

Avoid local problems and promote the project with effective internal PR activities

In the case of global roll-outs, it is quite common that local users are to some extent reluctant to try out new solutions. It is quite common that decisions are made in the head office. That is why, if a new system is very different from the previous version, strong tensions may occur between the branch/subsidiary and implementation partner.

Why are we supposed to change good local processes and implement the ideas of the head office?

Many employees in subsidiaries do not see the point of carrying out the global standardization of Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) and changing the locally used, well-functioning system as well as proven processes. Undoubtedly, they should be made acquainted with the objectives and benefits of the project. The motivation of employees, especially key users, is of paramount importance for the project success. Let us not forget that ERP solutions which had been used in subsidiaries before the standard group Microsoft Dynamics NAV system was implemented, had been developed and improved for a long time by subsidiary staff. For this reason, the replacement of the existing system can cause their reluctance.

Sample successful ERP projects

As for implementation for our biggest customer, we do successfully manage to avoid such problems. A special team consisting of our customer’s employees and our own consultants has been established for the purpose of the whole global project. As a result, individual subsidiaries treat our consultants as a part of this team, and not as a totally external entity. This in turn, facilitates our relations. All inaccuracies are dealt with between the subsidiary and its head office. The company is divided into sections, and each of them has a person responsible for a specific activity area in the head office. Let us imagine some sales employees would like to report an issue concerning work standards we have introduced. According to our customer’s internal policy, they should report it directly to the person responsible for the sales area in the head office – not to our team, as its implementation partner.

In this respect, improved company internal communication is one of the most significant implementation project benefits. Before each roll-out, the head office informs subsidiaries about the schedule planned for the implementation project. Subsidiaries become also familiar with project requirements, goals and advantages . Therefore, even though implementation necessitates a lot of internal changes, they do not cause reluctance in the subsidiaries.

Presently, our customer’s  company runs a very deliberate project-related information policy. Companies which are already using Microsoft Dynamics NAV based on the global solution, are eager to share their opinions and benefits via  the internal corporate portal. Currently, the list of prospective advantages is over 80, including time-saving benefits as well as the ones which bring real financial gains.

As a standard, IT.integro presents global project assumptions during Microsoft Dynamics NAV introduction trainings, which are delivered as one of the first tasks within a local project rollout in a subsidiary. This practice is intended to enable key users to gain an understanding of a local implementation as a part of a global roll-out project.

This brings  many benefits, however it also implies some consequences.

First impressions

First impression is of great importance. It is common knowledge that a first impression can be made only once. Therefore, how the project is started and how first local roll-outs are managed has the primary impact on how the project will be evolving in the future. As an implementation partner, we have observed that after the standardized Microsoft Dynamics NAV is implemented in a few first subsidiaries, customer’s staff tend to communicate and exchange their opinions on the system and our company as an implementation partner.

Project name

Assigning a name for the whole implemented solution is an interesting example of an internal PR activity launched by IT departments in international companies which implement group Microsoft Dynamics NAV standardization. AVK is such an example with the SCIPPER name which was developed for the purpose of its global project. The name is an acronym for S: Supply chain, C: Customer service, I: Integration, P: Planning, P: Production, E: E-business, R: Reporting.

The invention of this name for a group ERP solution and implementation project is a response to a naming problem which we also often face as a partner in such projects.  As we have mentioned in other articles on the Global Template or NAV Group Project Methodology, works we perform during such projects cover a wide range of activities, which is difficult to define precisely in a few words. Contrary to one-site implementation projects, in global projects, no common naming which would be commonly understandable is defined. When implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV in one subsidiary, such concepts as “implementation” or “ERP system” are commonly comprehensible. However, when the implementation project is delivered at the multi-site company level such concepts as „group project” or „Global Template” are interpreted in various ways by different stakeholders. Therefore, assigning a catchy name to a many year project is at a least a method for solving naming problems.

Helpdesk as part of Change Management

The helpdesk system is a part of change management. The topic has been already discussed in the blog post Helpdesk for global companies – 3 levels of support. When the end user submits a problem to a key user, the latter is to decide firstly whether it should be classified as a service request or change request. If it is only a service request, the key user solves the problem on their own or transfers it to a central helpdesk department. If the helpdesk is not able to solve the problem, it is transferred to an ERP Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner.

Global change request management

Requests that have been classified as change requests are handled using a totally different path. The key user is to decide whether the request is to be passed to a central helpdesk system or a Change Manager. If the key user decides to ignore the request, he/she communicates the decision to the end user and the request is closed. If the change request is to be transferred to the headquarters, the request is received by a change manager.

Change management and various Global Template (System Core) versions

Firstly, the Change Manager is to decide whether the problem submitted for a solution has not already been solved within the latest Global Template. It may happen that the user that submitted the request for modification, still uses the former group, consolidated Dynamics NAV system. This  means that the change request could have been already submitted by another  user and the problem solution is being developed within the latest Global Template version. Thus, it is important to consider the  issue of version updates when project assumptions are being defined. As early as the global project is started, a decision has to be made on the frequency of Global Template updates. Our experience shows that updating system versions every half year is not too a frequent process. We offer a tool for Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP that traces the scope of implementation and changes within the Global Template version implemented in a subsidiary of an international company. For more details on version update, please see the blog post: Language versions of a global, consolidated Dynamics NAV.

A completely new change request

If the request is the first of its type, the Change Manager has to decide whether change request is due to a legal requirement. In such a case, it will be implemented. However, it will not be added to a Global Template, because it will be not used in other countries. It is possible that the request might be a business requirement or just a customer’s “nice to have” requirement. In each of these cases, the Change Manager consults the requirement with the Business Owner that is responsible for an application area within which the change is to be implemented. It is the business owner that is to decide whether the change is to be implemented or not.