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Starting From Scratch With a Generic ERP

September 3, 2002
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Featured Article
Large Company
Name:Fairchild Semiconductor
Location:South Portland, Maine
Business:Supplier of power and interface products for computing,communications, consumer, industrial, and automotive applications

In 1997, when Fairchild Semiconductor spun off from National Semiconductor,the new group was given two years to transition from National’sdata-management system to one of its own. Instead of laboring to build a customERP, Fairchild bought a PeopleSoft enterprise application and set to workconverting its own work processes to fit the fields in the tool. The new companyhad offices all over the world, and each group was already using its own set ofprocesses, says Pat Johnson, senior IT manager. “It made more sense to startfrom scratch to create a new unified system.”

    To manage the change, HR team leaders from all of the offices spent a monthat headquarters reworking the business processes for HR, finance, logistics, andmanufacturing to fit the generic, “vanilla” system. “I was named theVanilla Queen,” says Johnson, who led the group and spent most of her timebattling requests to customize.

    It was an exhausting four weeks, but the team involvement went a long waytoward winning support for the tool. “If you invent new work processes in avacuum and then try to push them out to your people, you’ll never get buy-in,”she says. “You need participation for it to be a success.” Giving HR leadersa voice in the rework created ownership and made them advocates of thetransition. “They brought that excitement back to their people.”

    Intensive training before and after the system rollout bought further loyaltyand support from users. Every course and performance-support tool was designedto address the importance of each transaction, not just how to execute it, shesays. For example, the context-sensitive help offered in every screen of theapplication gives users a quick explanation of the role that each field plays inthe overall business process, as well as directions on how to fill it out. “Peopleget excited about a new application once they get past the fear of the unknown.”To ease their fears and build their confidence, Johnson gave users plenty ofopportunities to practice with the system before it went live, and to receivefeedback.

    Even though most of the courses were designed as self-paced Web-basedtutorials, trainers delivered them in classrooms so they could guide usersthrough the system and point out places where it might be tempting to look forprocess short-cuts that could result in serious problems for another department.“Addressing why transactions are important was the easiest way to overcome theresistance to change.”

Workforce, September 2002, p. 94 -- Subscribe Now!

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