It seems there are two types of people in today’s workplace: “digital natives” and everyone else. Digital natives are those who grew up with—and have grown to rely on—hardware like handheld devices and software programs/apps that are one click away and have virtually no learning curve. Technology is an extension of their everyday existence, while most of us over age 40 have had to rewire our brains, forget what we were taught, and try to figure out an entirely new world run on digital technology. To some, technology can make us feel incompetent and like it’s making things more difficult, not simpler.
Digital natives aren’t just familiar with technology—they have an expectation of ever-current technology. It’s integral to their jobs—and it’s available wherever and whenever they choose, on any kind of device. They expect their workplaces to have high-performance, accessible tools that reflect the very way this generation thinks and asks questions.
So when a digital native in a manufacturing job shop comes to Wipfli curious about the potential benefits of a new-age enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, it’s easy to get caught up in the features and benefits of the actual software and overlook the importance of user adoption. The level of user adoption and capabilities play a significant role in the choice of system and in how to address those who aren’t technology natives. There’s no reason to make ERP complicated and intimidating; in fact it can be an exciting step for everyone in the organization.
How Will You Convince The Team?
If you’re a digital native looking at an ERP system for your job shop, you’ll likely come across some resistance from those who aren’t as comfortable changing the way they do things. Here are some tips that will help you get everyone to be an active participant:
- Have empathy about non-digital natives’ hesitation. People who didn’t grow up with technology aren’t resistant because they’re just being difficult…they’re resistant because they grew up storing things in paper folders, watching one of 6 TV channels, creating documents in clunky, low-function word processors. They’re not being difficult, they’re reacting to the unfamiliar. Start by asking “How can I be your mentor?” then learn together.
- Show them how intuitive and simple it is to use. When non-digital natives are shown how tools work, how simple they are to use, and how they streamline processes and outcomes, they often become your best ambassadors – they’ll be singing its praises to anyone who’ll listen. Rather than focus on the complex inner workings of technology tools (which, to be honest, very few truly comprehend), highlight the benefits and tangible deliverables the tools deliver.
- Prove it. If you think you’ll get doubtful looks when you tell your team all that an ERP system will do for the business, be prepared with case studies specific to manufacturing. There are hundreds of case studies out there that demonstrate improved productivity, reduced inventory, more accurate estimates/quotes, reduced order-to-cash time, etc., from their new ERP solution. Another option is to attend user groups and ask questions of peers using the same ERP.
- Acknowledge (to them and to yourself) that you need their insights. Keep in mind that just because you’re a digital native, you don’t corner the market on “smart.” What you contribute is the invaluable ability to help previous generations uncover things they “didn’t know they didn’t know.” By showing them how to use an ERP system, you give them access to a huge array of data. They, in turn, add insights about what those numbers can mean and how to use them to make the absolute best decisions and corrective action for the business. Their unique insights, built over years of situations, challenges, solutions and trial-and-error, will inform the technology and ERP decisions, making the tool even more valuable to the organization. When you combine data with wisdom, decision-making becomes much more precise and the organization moves to action much more swiftly.
Features that Make an ERP Useful To Everyone
Imagine for a minute all the possibilities—and the full potential of everyone on the team—an information system provides:
- Anytime, any place accessibility. The system is working 24/7/365, so users can, too—at home, on the road, at night or during a soccer game.
- Ease of use. Systems are highly intuitive and require minimal training. If users are comfortable with common computer programs, they’ll master an ERP navigation system.
- Speed. Everyone wants everything now, and an ERP system provides real-time data for areas throughout the organization. No waiting for tomorrow to get updated information.
An ERP system functions best when you pair the power of technology with the power of wisdom—when you have digital natives who can uncover data and work alongside those with experience who can show how that information can be used to make the best decisions. When you go to your peers to talk about the potential for an ERP to build your business profitably, don’t forget that you’ve both got a lot to contribute.