Enterprise Wide Change Management

By Su-Cheng Wu


An Enterprise Wide Change project needs to balance the goal of upgrading a legacy system (whether human or technical) with its potential to disrupt operations through the use of Change Management Process.  Presented below are three strategies to ensure the success of an Enterprise Wide Change process:

  • Enterprise Wide Change’s (EWC) Stakeholders Expectation Management Plan
  • System Change and Risk Management Plan
  • Change Implementation Plan


EWC Stakeholders Expectation Management:

An EWC can be a highly valuable, disruptive business force. Nevertheless, if not implemented carefully, it could damage an established business in the improvement process. Careless changes could unintentionally damage what used to work in an organization in the process of achieving the intended impact. The lack of understanding can erode trust among the established and the new team members. Moreover, opposing stakeholders whose concerns are not addressed could become major load-bearing risks to the success of the intended Change. To mitigate these negative risks, Change Management best practices recommend engaging the entire spectrum of the organization’s human resources prior to any actual implementation.

Based on the principles found in the Change Management process described in “Modern ERP”: (Bradford, M., 2010).




  • First Step: Address the “human side” systematically to establish Respect and Trust:People are innately resistant to change. Re-engineering will change job requirements and expectations. First, Change Leaders must conduct thorough business analysis and seek to communicate and understand ALL LEVELS of the organization's workforce before prescribing improvement suggestions. Be sure to pay equal due diligence to the workers, not just the managers. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Be sure to address both the Transactional (authority-based) and the Transformational (influence-driven) leader types. Note that the influence-driven leaders and workers are harder to detect initially. This business analysis stage would safeguard against damaging what already works in the company.  By making a visible effort to establish respect and trust as the first step, it will soften the anxiety brought on by the intended Change.
  • Start at the top: High-level executives need to set the tone at the top. Leaders should clearly define the new roles of employees as a result of the change, taking care to promote inclusion and ownership. Top leaders should initiate and facilitate collaboration among core leadership teams.
  • Representative from every layer: Once Change is ready to be explored and/or activated; a leader (or user) should be designated from every major layer of the company to participate in the Change design, training and to provide input as a representative of their layer. These leaders are also responsible for communicating user cases and/or bringing back all the training they received and the overall message of change to their individual layer. Only then, the desired workflow and impact could be mapped out and communicated clearly and collaboratively. 




  • Make the formal case: Management should present a formal case as to why change is absolutely necessary in anticipation of resistance and questioning. Include in this case the process in which change will occur to help employees see the big picture.
  • Create ownership: Management needs to take ownership of this change; they cannot be indifferent. Encourage employee inputs in formulating the desired changed state and process.
  • Communicate the message: Employees need to be reminded of the purpose of the change process throughout. Communicate not just the “how” but the “why”. This understanding of the “why” promotes feelings of ownership and enthusiasm for the change.
  • Speak to the individual: Each employee needs to know what is expected out of them individually. Time should be spent with individuals, providing clarity and also well-defined rewards of achieving attainable changes.
  • Accountability, Responsibility, Reward and Recognition System: A system is needed to ensure reinforcement of accountability and recognition of all levels of human resources participating in the change. A fair reward and recognition system is vital in building trust and maintaining a positive business culture during the challenging time of Change.  Mutual understanding and respect between the new and the established business drivers are key because without them, a team can degrade from “Performing (working cohesively)” into “Storming” (political turf wars).
  • Prepare for the unexpected: Every phase of the change is not going to be perfect. Strong leadership is needed to provide encouragement that everything will turn out in the end.


Once all levels of stakeholders understand their roles and expectations, proceed with a System Change and Risk Management plan. This is the second step in the change’s “unfreezing” process, aiming to ready the organization prior to engaging any planned system upgrade:


System Change and Risk Management: (Aller-Stead, Haines & Mckinlay, 2005)


  • Document the current Technical, Human Business Process, and Functional Requirements, including mapping and establishing a current and target Performance Base Measurement based on established mission statement.
  • Define Performance Test Criteria and a Test Plan, including setting a pass-or-fail Performance Target for the desired upgraded system
  • Follow the 6 steps of Risk Management Process (PMBOK, 2008) to define the Risk Tolerance level for the impacted productivity. Qualitative: All service outputs and business culture.  Quantitative: Measure in time, units and financial value.
  • Create a risk mitigation plan to minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances


Change Implementation Plan, phases include:


  • Requirements-based System Design and Implementation Phases Proposal
  • Align user and Change designers’ actions and expectations per the phases proposed
  • Mitigate current productivity impact by using secondary systems or activate Contingency Reserves (if decide to have an all-stop)
  • Architecture and Installation Phase
  • Configuration and Integration Phase
  • Testing Phase
  • Training and Deployment Phase
  • Migration/Phasing off Legacy System Phase
  • Performance Measure, System and Process Fine Tune Phase: Machine, Process and Human 
  • Continuous Improvement Planning


Key words:


  • Determination
  • Open Communications
  • Clarity
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Requirements Gathering
  • Performance Targets
  • Engaging all Levels
  • Fair Accountability, Recognition and Rewards.




Aller-Stead, Haines & Mckinlay, (2005), Enterprise-Wide Change. San Francisco: Johm Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Bradford, M. (2010). Modern ERP: Select, Implement and Use Today’s Advanced Business Systems.  Raleigh: North Carolina State University

PMI. (2008). Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). Project Management     Institute: 4th Edition

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