Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- The psychological aspect of introduction of Erp systems in organizations

The psychological aspect of introduction of Erp systems in organizations

E. Zvonova Candidate of Pedagogical Sciences, assistant professor,

e-mail: zevreturn@yandex.ru

Moscow Pedagogical State University;

N. Pestereva consultant,

e-mail: nicole-pesterewa@yandex.ru

Deloitte & Touche Regional Consulting Services Limited,

Moscow Representative Office,

Moscow, Russia

The development of the modern information environment influences the increased attention to information and communication support of the activities of the modern organisation. Technical innovations of information technologies go hand in hand with the development of modern business, meeting its needs, while at the same time helping to create new opportunities for improving the quality of management of the organisation [2]. Thus, the issue of implementation, development, transformation of various corporate data and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) becomes an integral part of organisational evolution.

The most consistent and complete specificity of the current development of organisations reflects the provisions of change management, whose popularity is determined not by the ever-changing fashion, but by the realities of the modern world in which the procedural, structural, content, speed and other characteristics of changes in the information field occupy a leading position. That determines the relevance of the problem raised by the authors.

Changes in the organisation – a system of targeted and planned measures aimed at adapting to the changing external conditions of the formal structure, business processes and resource allocation system. Changes in the field of information support for business processes are recognised as one of the most complex, global and resource-intensive resources of the organisation.

Publications about the methodology, procedures and methods for managing change are now quite contradictory approaches in analysing the determinants of organisational development, as well as in assessing the organisational and social factors that contribute to or hinder change. Attempts to present a single point of view led to the creation of a multi-level model based on the concept of social identity, through which the motivation for cooperation or resistance to change is considered [2]. The model describes the specifics of internal processes in the organisation and the conditions under which the socio-psychological characteristics and perception of the effectiveness and well-being of employees, representatives of various working groups of the organisation determine the attitude to innovation and possible behavior strategies. The following factors determine the resistance or contribute to changes in the organisation:

·                the characteristics of the working group (for example, a psychological climate that helps or counteracts the leader, the defender of change or his adversary);

• management characteristics of the organisation (for example, the position of management, its commitment to change management: changes as a logical step, planned, next stage of development or enforcement, an attempt to compensate for the backlog;

• competence and authority of top management, recognition of leaders as the main ideologists of change;

• social factors (for example, the country's legislation, legal acts of the region, land, socio-economic situation in the country, industry, the company's exposure to external influences, organisational culture peculiarities and its tragic confrontation or harmonious interaction with the culture of the external environment).

A distinctive feature of the studies devoted to Change management is their desire for practical orientation, the desire to formulate practical recommendations aimed at the rapid and successful implementation of the activities of the companies carrying out the changes. In this perspective, it is difficult to separate the complementary contribution of managers and psychologists who are sensitive to the socio-economic challenge of practice.

Every time when there is a need for one person or a certain community to adapt to the changing conditions of the modern fast-moving world, there is always anxiety and resistance in this painful process. Observing and analysing the experience of transformations within a dozen companies, the professor of the Harvard Business School John P. Kotter (John P. Kotter) identifies eight common mistakes made in the organisational changes [3]:

• Allowing too much complacency;

• An inability to create a sufficiently influential team of reformers;

• Underestimating the power of vision;

• Delayed communication of vision in 10, 100 and even 1000 times;

• Allowing obstacles to block a new vision;

• Failure to create short-term success;

• Premature celebration of victory;

• Neglecting to consolidate changes in corporate culture.

The fulfillment of any of the listed errors has consequences:

• Unsatisfactory implementation of new strategies;

• The new one does not reach the expected interaction;

• Restructuring takes too much time and is too expensive;

• Staff reductions do not allow controlling costs;

• Quality improvement programs do not bring the expected results.

In the process of ERP system implementation, which, accompanying all actions, is actually the "basic" business process of the company, it requires maximum inclusion of all employees, and any error has a very significant financial component, which leads to an increase in time and increasing the cost of the whole project.

In addition, anyone, even the most formalised, having strict implementation standards, an information system (for example, Microsoft Business Solutions Navision), adapts to the organisation. It is the psychological component of implementation that requires a serious psychological basis. Training, testing and other measures of social and psychological support cannot compensate for the shortcomings and mistakes made at the stage of preparation of the terms of reference. A methodologically unreasonable description of business processes, lack of proper attention to all components of the structure of activity, creates the basis for future problems not only in communication between the client-developer, but also in the organisation as a whole.

However, the errors listed above are not at all disastrous. By having awareness and proper skill, they can be avoided or, at least, mitigated. The secret of success is in understanding why there is resistance. Specifically, it is a multi-step process that can overcome the destructive inertia. Especially the theorist Change management pays attention to what constitutes leadership, which is necessary to guide the process along a socially reasonable path, and which means more than just good management.

John P. Cotter believes that any organisation, regardless of its size, undergoes eight stages in the process of change, each of which is related to one of the eight fundamental errors that undermine transformation efforts [3]:

1. Creating a sense of the urgency of change

• Study of the market and products of competitors

• Identification and discussion of actual or potential critical moments or important opportunities

2. Creation of a team of reformers

• Forming a group with sufficient authority to lead the change

• Achieving teamwork

3. Developing a vision and strategy

• Creating a vision to help guide efforts to implement change

• Developing a strategy for achieving a vision

4. Communication of the vision of change

• Using all possible means to constantly communicate a new vision and strategy

• Reformers have a role model of behavior expected from employees

5. Empowering staff to participate fully

• Removing obstacles

• Modifying systems or structures that undermine the vision of change

• Encouraging the adoption of risk and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions

6. Creating short-term successes

• Planning for visible improvements in performance or "success"

• Creating these successes

• The explicit recognition and reward of employees who make these successes possible

7. Fostering success and deepening change

• Use of increasing trust to change all systems, structures and policies that do not agree with each other and are inconsistent with the vision of transformation

• Hiring, promotion and development of employees who can implement the vision

• Strengthening the process with new projects, tasks and agents of change

8. Consolidation of new approaches in culture

• Creating a better performance through client-centered focus, better leadership and more effective management

• Clarifying the relationship between the new style of work and organisational success

• Creating ways to ensure the development of leadership and its continuity

Summing up the approach of John P. Kotter, the first four stages of the transformation process are aimed at helping to unfreeze the encumbered status quo. If this were easy to change, then in these efforts there would be no need. In the fifth to seventh stages, many new methods are introduced. The last stage changes the basis of the corporate culture and helps them to adhere. At first glance, this whole eight-step programme looks long, therefore, some managers miss some of the stages. But, according to John P. Kotter, failure to follow the described sequence and skipping the steps leads to a decrease in the effectiveness of the effort to change and ultimately leads to worse results [3].

The first problematic point of implementation of ERP-systems is the presentation of the results of the description of business processes in the organisation, which become the basis for adapting the information system to the specifics of the structure and activities of the company. The problem area is insufficient attention to the psychological components of the structure of activity itself, which is represented in the national psychological school, in particular, in the study of P.Ya. Halperin and his students [1,6]. On various subject materials, problems of structure and formation of objective action, separation of orienting and executive parts in it were studied. The correctly allocated orienting part of the activity (the goal, composition of actions, psychological mechanism etc) are the basis for the successful mastery of any activity. The structure, dynamics and formation of orientation activity form the basis of successful learning.

Insufficient attention to the identification and description of the composition and sequence of actions, as well as the instruments of activity, also creates all the problematic clashes between consumer-consumers and system-adaptive developers.

In practice, developers offer customers to fill out questionnaires or submit a technical assignment that customers can perform. However, on the part of customers, as a rule, the most experienced employees are included in the working groups, some of the operations and labour actions have already been automated, and therefore the full range of activities does not have a verbal representation in the technical task. On the other hand, developers see a generalised "skeleton" of the system, formally "pouring" the content into an inadequately adapted form.

Traditionally not given worthy attention to temporal (time) of the measurements carried out, the introduction of the ERP system leads to the fact that customers and developers, implement their understanding of the concepts of "fast-slow", "often-rare" that in the issue of updating databases, it turns into a source of delayed conflict.

Most clearly, the discrepancy in the representation of one and the other side are manifested in the definition of the key point, the connection between one stage of the business process and the other. The embodiment of "docking" should be the product of activity with all meaningfully significant characteristics. However, in practice, we have to deal with a formal approach when a finished form begins to manage the content, highlighting the significant procedural components is not enough product in place of activity, thereby unnecessarily breaking up the business process, transferring responsibility centres from one operator to another. This system error manifests itself later, for example, when implementing the labour evaluation system, when the information system does not have enough significant indicators or a bias occurs, and the agents of influence on the result are mistakenly identified, which are not really such.

Thus, emerges an urgent need for direct participation in the description of the business processes of a psychologist, a moderator interacts with customers and developers not only and not so much on the communicative level, and virtually on the methodological level, the psychological, the human-information environment.

The stage of implementation of the ERP system poses the following big problem: it is a systematic, purposeful implementation of psychological support for ongoing changes in the organisation. Practical interest is the model of psychological support for organisational change, developed in the concept of Kurt Z. Lewin [5].

In the formula:


where B is behavior; P is a person, a person; E is the environment, human behavior is seen as a derivative of the interaction of personal multiple characteristics and the environment. The interaction of the organisational environment and the employee is realised within the framework of the psychological field that is objectively created by the person himself. A psychological field is generated and actualises human interaction with the surrounding people, objects and events, perceived by him with a positive or negative evaluation individually, although there are also such objects that for all have an equally attractive or equally repulsive force. Influencing the person, all the environmental phenomena cause in him the needs, which K.Levin considered as a kind of energy, charges causing tension. The desire for detente, a satisfaction of needs is transformed by virtue of attraction or opposition, which, under conditions of organisational change, either helps or hinders. For adequate psychological support of employees, the situation of changes should be analysed from the point of view of a person, that is, from within.

The difficulty lies in the fact that the stages of change ("defrosting", "movement", "freezing") have psychological characteristics that can be distinguished in the analysis of field strength. However, psychological support must coincide with the business timetable for the implementation of changes and ensure the readiness and support of employees.

It is not always possible to adequately measure the strength of the field before the changes begin, because the forces that impede change can only manifest themselves after the start of the organisational arrangements, and the amount of support (even in the number of supporters) can drastically decrease after the first difficulties:


Potential for change

magnitude of forces contributing to change
magnitude of forces that prevent change

The first stage of "Defrosting" involves preparing for a change in the field, a period when the actions of the psychologist and the project manager are aimed at ensuring that people recognise the need for change. The goal of this stage is to reach employees' awareness of the availability of a psychological resource and to form a vision of their personal time perspective.

The technique of "defrosting" is aimed at ensuring that employees feel legitimate pride in the past, feel recognition of their achieved high level, which dictated the need for change. At this stage, it is necessary to help in understanding the personal perspectives and personal safety of employees who should be adequately provided with programmes and individual support activities, receive security guarantees, but on the condition that they take a passive rather than passive position and show readiness to work on in the course of the changes.

A traditional social stereotype suggests that older people are less prepared to accept change. The aging of labour resources is a typical phenomenon of modern developed countries and management issues of the Human Resource of older age become everyday issues of organisational interaction. Dictated by natural demographic changes, the question arose sharply in connection with the active development of the business environment on the one hand and typical career situations, related to a high position and responsibility side by side with experience, wisdom and age. This aspect has become a problem due to the rapid development of modern information and communication technologies. And although the important tendencies of the modern world mentioned above persist, their mutual influence, interdependence and levels of interconnection as a whole remain outside the field of view of the scientific interests of organisational psychologists [7].

In the few studies carried out, there was a lack of age determination from formal chronological data, since the individual characteristics of aging had such a diverse impact on the success of the employee's functioning in the process of organisational changes, that

led only to an understanding of the urgent need for a further deeper, systematic and extensive study [7].

The Russian practice of implementing ERP systems shows that age and professional experience are not a condition for the success or failure of adaptation and professional inclusion in the process of change. The development of new information systems by the employees of the older generation depends primarily on personal psychological characteristics (for example, adaptability, intellectual development, rigidity of thinking, and others). Of great importance is the quality of the basic education of the employee, his inclination and ability to learn, reliance on the theoretical and methodological meta-component of knowledge. The motivational component has a huge impact on the success of the training.

At the same time, practice shows the need to develop and introduce new forms of training for employees experiencing difficulties in the implementation of ERP systems. Traditional training and seminars do not always, and do not in any context achieve the expected effect. Excellent results bring forms of learning that simulate the interaction of the club, where everyone can act as a mentor or student, where a cordial atmosphere reigns and employees do not experience discomfort from recognising their mistakes, misunderstanding or inability. However, no form of training removes the need for the psychologist to monitor the overall success of training, the most frequently asked questions, problem points of interaction, etc. The purpose of the obtained statistics is to reveal:

• groups of employees who need special support;

• employees who are rapidly moving forward and able to help their colleagues;

• Employees who show initiative, who submit ideas for inclusion in initiative groups and circles of quality.

It is also necessary to analyse repetitive errors, complications, complaints, possibly requiring attention and refinement from the technical support of the project.

The result of the "Defrosting" stage should be the adoption by employees of a decision on participation in the ERP system implementation process as a form of a purposeful, systemic, prospective stage of professional development.

However, even those changes that seem to be "positive" and "rational" cause people some excitement and loss of confidence. For many very different reasons, individual employees, or even groups, can react differently to the ongoing transformation: from passive resistance to aggressive attempts to undermine efforts to implement the project. To predict why such a negative reaction arises, one can refer to the following four most common reasons given by John P. Kotter and Leonard A. Schlesinger:

• narrow ownership interest;

• lack of understanding and lack of trust;

• Differences in the assessment of the situation;

• A low level of psychological and technological readiness for changes [4].

Without the support and direct participation of the company's management, the following methods cannot be implemented to overcome the resistance to change:

• direct communication of the employee with representatives of the management, clarification and answers to questions, if necessary - negotiations and agreements;

• Involvement of an employee to participate in meetings and working groups of the project for introducing changes;

• Training and adaptation programs [8].

In the process of "defrosting" it is necessary to diagnose the increase in forces that contribute to changes, the increase in the number of supporters, their more active behavior, and the growth of a positive emotional response.

In the "Movement" stage, practical activities are carried out, which require careful planning, organisation and management. To begin the change is most favorable in a situation of complete psychological readiness. Unfortunately, this does not always work, so the beginning of the "movement" should not mean stopping the work of providing psychological support to those who are doubting.

Preparation and coordination with the participants of the ERP implementation plan is the key to success. To successfully implement the changes, it is not enough to inspire colleagues with a good idea. Full and predictive analysis of the situation, internal reserves and a thoughtful strategy, consistent with the main features of the situation, are the necessary components for the successful implementation of changes.

It is very useful at this stage to get acquainted with the result of implementing the system in other organisations. It is important to determine the whole aspect of the change strategy:

• the sum of the criteria located in the temporary process continuum, which should reflect the success and failure of the ERP implementation program;

• Requirements for evaluation criteria, each of which must have not only a quantitative indicator, but also an unquestionable influence on the overall result of efficiency.

These characteristics must be "tied" to the time scores of the entire ERP system implementation project. The schedule and evaluation criteria should be well known and accessible, so they are most often posted on the corporate website so that all employees can evaluate the implementation process. No project can withstand the 100% time schedule, but its availability allows you to flexibly reconfigure any parallel project processes and coordinate any time shifts.

The time factor and the necessary rate of change require a different quality of planning and limiting or expanding the number of participants. Rapid changes require detailed planning and a limited number of participants. In this case, in order to strengthen the forces that contribute to the changes, a rapid levelling of the resistance forces is required. Slow changes require not so much a detailed, as a thoughtful, milestone strategic plan and attract a large number of participants. The tactic of working with resistance to change in this case is to apply methods and conduct measures aimed at gradually weakening resistance.

One of the key provisions of K. Levine is that the individual and his environment are an indivisible dynamic whole [7]. Internal stress, provoking resistance to change, can be created and docked by the environment, working conditions and other people. Therefore, during the "movement" it is necessary to provide the employees with operational, technical and psychological assistance and support:

• conduct short-term seminars on a narrow topic,

• individual consultations,

• mini-training programmes,

• briefing.

At the stage of "Movement", the employee must be sure that he will not lose or distort information, data. Therefore, it is necessary that sometimes the old and new information systems work in parallel. Data must be stored in two systems. With the question repeatedly raised by many participants in the process, it becomes necessary to conduct a detailed analysis of the causes of misunderstanding, perhaps additional research, changes or additions to instructional materials and short-term training.

Detailed instructions for participants in the implementation of the ERP system should in essence represent indicative maps that reflect all the structural and content elements of purposefully generated activities, and various forms of training (training, seminars, clubs, etc.) should operate and rely on the components identified in indicative map. The indicative map is compiled in the form of detailed instructions. A competent drafting of the instruction is necessary taking into account all the mandatory components of the indicative framework of activities.

At the stage of "Movement", the work of the old accounting, information system, which duplicates the array of data entered into the new ERP system, is usually preserved. This is done for a smooth transition and to avoid data loss. However, some employees continue to work predominantly in the old system, reducing all learning outcomes to naught. The psychologist needs to access the user data, which shows which system the employee works in. And pay increased attention (training, information, support) to those who persistently continue to hold on to the old or slowly move on to new forms. Ideally, by the end of the "Movement" phase, all employees must contribute data and actively work with the new system, which shows the readiness to move to a new stage of implementation.

The period of testing, the first attempts to use, the first work of the full version of the new ERP system is called the "freeze" phase, which is necessary as a period of adaptation for new technologies, technical tools and business processes. At this stage, new rules of conduct and interaction, and evaluation criteria are established, which ensure the viability and further prospects for making changes. Some experts on organisational development say that the stage of "freezing" is not needed, that the organisation is a dynamic, socially oriented organism that is always in motion. In our opinion, such a position is erroneous.

Experience in the implementation of ERP-systems shows that the effect (qualitative change of business processes) is not instantaneous and unconditional, because with changing external conditions, technologies and methods of performing work at the level of individual productivity do not immediately change. At the stage of "freezing" the employee begins to develop his individual style of work in accordance with new conditions and requirements, moving to an individually comfortable rhythm. During the "freezing" period new forms of control are developed, tested and installed to "punish" old norms and forms of business processes and "reward" the fulfillment of production tasks within the framework of the introduced changes [8],

After the implementation of the ERP-system during the freezing phase, checklists are checked to verify all areas of the company's work, new rules are developed and implemented.

In the period of "freezing" it is recommended to conduct corporate events for the emotional support of employees. The emergence of a new system should be rewarding.

For the successful implementation of the ERP-system in the organisation, it is necessary to carry out the analysis, description of business processes and prepare a specification of the task, which is methodologically sound from the viewpoint of the theory of activity. It is important for the organisational psychologist to participate and understand the project managers, and it is necessary to plan all stages of psychological support so that key situational variables should be defined and monitored throughout the implementation period:

• the strength and nature of the expected resistance;

• the balance of power between supporters and opponents of change;

• Data necessary and sufficient for planning and allocating the resources needed to implement the changes;

• The level of short-term risks for the current activities and survival of the organisation;

• The distribution of any temporary resources.

A key role in the successful implementation of ERP-systems is the methodologically sound psychological component of the project, because, according to the Course Levine, people are integral, unique systems, and each of them carries an inner world.

It is believed that it is promising to conduct systematic psychological research with a wide range of different activities of organisations dedicated to various issues of change management in general, and the implementation of ERP systems, in particular with the goal of creating practical recommendations for the preparation and psychological support of the project. Organisational psychologists need to actively participate in the work of project teams to implement ERP-systems.



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2. Guillaume Y.R.F.,  Dawson J. F., Priola V., Sacramento C. A., Woods S. A., Higson H. E., Budhwar P. S. & West M. A. (2014) Managing diversity in organisations: An integrative model and agenda for future research, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, V.23, I.5. 2014. P. 783–802.

3. Kotter J. P. Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

4. Kotter J. P. and Schlesinger L. A. 2008. Choosing strategies for change. Harvard Business Review (July-August): 130, 132–139. (Reprint from 1979).

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6. Podolsky A. I. Psychological concept of P. Ya. Galperin: some directions and prospects for further development / Vestnik of Moscow University. Series 14. Psychology. 2012. № 4. PP. 11–23. [In Rus]

7. Tams, S., Grover, V., and Thatcher, J. (2014). Modern Information Technology in an Old Workforce: Toward a Strategic Research Agenda. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 23, Issue 4, 284–304. 

8. Zvonova E. V. Psychological support of changes in the organisation // Personnel Management. – 2013. – № 4. – P. 77–81. [In Rus]

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