September 2009

Crucial to 'knead in' the change

By Bianca Scholten

Most MES integrators originally come from the PLC-SCADA world.

An important difference between SCADA projects and manufacturing execution systems (MES) projects is with MES, you have to deal with so many more stakeholders (just as for ERP implementations).

Therefore, it is crucial you "knead in" the change.

"Kneading in" is a whole art in itself. It is called implementation guidance, and people who provide it have little understanding of technology, but all the more of communication, psychology, and other human factors.

Remco Moria, a consultant at Ordina who specializes in implementation guidance, explains. It is important future users and other people in the organization who will notice the consequences feel involved. That is why we involve them in the various implementation phases. We prepare a solid, integral change management plan in order to communicate with the employees and to prepare them for the coming changes.

Consider, for example, setting up a sounding board group and a users group, organizing workshops, creating training materials, and setting up a communication plan. We work with key users, because there are often too many future users to be able to reach them all at the same time.

From the start, the implementation guidance team looks at the whole picture. They go into the organization to interview different types of users, and ask, "What issues play a role here? How are you going to maintain the system? What do you expect from it in the future? How much uptime must the system maintain?"

By asking different users these kinds of questions, you form a picture of the current pattern of expectations and of the conflicting expectations within the organization. Once you know what the errors and obscurities in the expectations are, you can start to alter them. That occurs continuously, throughout the course of the project.

During implementation, it is important to pay a lot of attention to the mental changes that need to take place (by teaching, creating involvement, and generating support and acceptance, through training, workshops, and newsletters, for example).

Moreover, a structural change is necessary; that is, the change has to incorporate into the organization. The goal is to lock in the result, for example by implementing processes, setting up procedures, delegating organizational tasks and other responsibilities, functional management, and so forth.


Bianca Scholten ( is a partner at systems integrator firm TASK24 in The Netherlands.