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Paul Speyers

Critical analysis of Bolman and Deals framing of Change

Management Issues.


This essay focuses on providing a critical review on the change

management perspective of a global organization that has decided
to implement an enterprise resource (ERP) system. The emphasis is
on viewing the difficulties that have presented themselves
throughout this process and analyzing the issues using Bolman and
Deans 4 Frame Model (Bolman and Dean, 2008). This analysis will
present critical issues about the system implementation and will
present some general recommendations for future programs.

Background on the Organization.

The organization that I work for is a large global manufacturer in the

industrial electrical industry. We provide products and solutions in
the electrical industry from residential systems through to heavy
mining applications. A large portion of our business focuses on the
manufacturing of a broad range of products which are distributed
throughout the world and sold via reseller and direct to end users.
The organization is predominantly sales based with local offices
located in every major city in the world and employs over 100,000

The organization has grown significantly over the last 10 years via a
strong acquisition plan in an attempt to become the number one
global leader in the electrical market. As various companies have
been acquired, there has been a key focus on these businesses
maintaining their existing business systems so as to allow these
businesses to maintain their market presence and dominance that
they hold in their niche markets and sectors. This strategy also

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helped the larger organization in not having to develop integration

strategies for all these new businesses and therefore could focus on
their core objectives of acquiring more companies.

As the company changed its strategy from acquisition to

consolidation it identified that there was a need to start integrating
each of the now isolated business units together. Similar to the
decision by JTI a global tobacco company in 1999 where through
acquisition the group was disparate, (Seguin and Pelster, 2005) it
was identified that there was a significant limitation in being able to
track revenue and expenses into a central point due to disparate
business function systems in HR, Logistics, accounting,
manufacturing and customer management. The disparate number of
systems was leading to significant inefficiencies that were not in line
with the corporate strategy of being the best in class and global
leader in the electrical industry. Wanting to be a best in class global
organization the greatest concern was about efficiency of the
organization as identified by Spathis & Constantinides (2003). The
electrical industry is a very competitive market as the products are
very commodity based, meaning prices being driven down and
margins being reduced.

Each local office and national head office had a great amount of
autonomy where they managed the business activities on their own.
Being locally run business units also meant that operational systems
where decentralized with no ability to share information out to other
business units. This would mean delays in product supply and the
ability to get important information quickly to assist customers with
their needs and issues.

The Change Decision.

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To overcome these problems it was decided that the solution

needed to be the implementation of a global enterprise resource
(ERP) platform. This new business software system would be
designed to assist in harmonizing many different business
processes across multiple business units and provided a common
platform to operate from. (Fui-Hoon, Lau and Kuang. 2001) This
would link all divisions across the globe from Marketing and
Manufacturing to Operations and Sales. This ERP system would
streamline systems and provide an integrated financial control and
reporting structure to allow many processes in the businesses to
reduce costs within, as well as improve customer service to both
external and internal customers. (Gupta, 2000) It was decided that
the ERP system that would be implemented would be a SAP system
as a number of existing divisions in parts of the world were already
using this software system. The strategy was that each regional
group would implement the SAP system in a stepped approach
across different countries.

In Australia where the system was to be implemented a key project

team was put together from both a functional and technical
perspective and managed as a joint collaboration between SAP
consultants and the internal development team out of head office in
Europe. The project team’s main focus was to develop a list of
requirements so the development team could design the new
system and processes that were needed and that would be
applicable to the countries business needs. Based on the main SAP
modules, the development team reviewed the requirements
identified by the project team and compared these with the SAP
functionality. Gaps were then identified and solutions proposed.

The development team consisted of three groups. The functional

group was responsible for training, change management and
implementation. The technical group conducted all the

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programming, hardware configuration, interfacing and system

performance. And then there was the management team that
oversaw the total project delivery.

ERP Failure

ERP systems enable an organization to manage resources

effectively and efficiently by providing a totally integrated information
process which is standardized across the whole business. The most
important attributes of ERP are its ability to automate business
processes, share common data and practices and produce and
access information in real time. The problem is that with all ERP
systems implemented throughout the globe there is a high failure
rate in the implementation of these systems. (Davenport 1998).
Using the Bolman and Deans 4 Frame Model (Bolman and Dean,
2008) we can uncover the critical failure areas of the change
process. Bolman and Deal (2008) viewed organisations in four
distinct areas. These being, structuring organisations, human-
resources-related issues, political dynamic and symbolic concerns.
These areas they called frames, have their own limiting view of an
organisation’s landscape and provide a different view point with set
assumptions, actions and processes to bring efficiencies into the
organisation. Each frame provides a picture of the organisation’s
reality, and here we use these frames to identify the critical failures
of this ERP implementation.

The structured system in the organisation where rational system

based processed around goals, tasks and technology is all about
having work tasks to differentiate and provide clarity for workers and
gives the required coordination. This ERP implementation failed in
both the clarity of task responsibility and data process integration.

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In the early stages of the implementation of the ERP system it was

becoming very obvious that this new systems was very complex as
identified by Kemp & Low (2008) causing the project team and many
general staff to become overwhelmed with the project. The project
team simply did not have the number of staff required to get all
project actions achieved according to the project schedule. Role
responsibility was not well defined and with the integration of
external consultants with internal specialists and functional team
members there was a significant overlapping and confusions about
the implementation of the system. It started to cause slippage in the
project schedule due to the struggling efforts of the engineers to
configure options and access data.

Also with data which was the most important area that needed to be
addressed with this new system and there was a fundamental issue
with regards to the master data that needed to be configured. As the
system was to be a global one it was important that this master data
was correct. The master data was coming from many different
business areas which had different formats for the data. These
differing data structures were needed to be merged together in the
areas such as customers, venders and material information. With no
set process in place to achieve this requirement, it took significant
changes and multiple communications across many different
countries and business divisions to finally come to a resolution. Yet
still it was impossible to get different divisions to decide on how this
master data would look.

It was decided that the new system would not run in parallel to the
old and that the old system would be turned off at go live. This
caused a very large amount of disruption within the business at all
levels from sales and marketing to logistics and accounting. In
addition it also impacted the customers. Orders were not getting put
on the system correctly, incorrect equipment was getting delivered,
goods where not turning up at all or delivery delays were

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experienced. Through this process the project team became more

familiar with the system scope and issues relating to integration
allowing for design changes to occur. This helped in addressing the
critical issues and limitations of the system so changes could be
made to improve performance, however, this constant change made
employees have a lack of trust in the new system and in what it
could deliver compared to what had been promised and produced
skepticisms of the ERP system.

The Human resource sees organisations needing to motivate

individuals through their ability to use their skills and talents, so
there is a mutual benefit to all parties. The organisation failed in this
area by not recognising what was needed to identify the required
skills and needs when embarking on this project.

A significant pitfall was the issue of technology and the skill-sets of

the employees to use this technology. The implementation of the
ERP system saw a move to the reliance of staff to be more
computer literate as the new system relied on users to interface with
the ERP system via web based applications that were complicated
to use and required many different log in environments. These were
all new processes that needed to be learnt. The difficulty was that
using these applications at the start of the new system led to
constant PC failure which needed technical assistance from IT
support. To make things even more difficult, the IT support team
was based in India as the main Asia Pacific support team. Calls to
request assistance with the language barriers was more a frustration
than a help in overcoming simple log in problems. There was no
local guidance at the country level to assist in any of the problematic
issues that if corrected quickly would have reduced the frustration
and the resistance to change.

The difficulties in the project and the stress levels that were created
in particular areas of the business caused a large disharmony in the

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workforce. There as a lot of talk about the benefits of the SAP

system of improved efficiencies, this led to an expectation from the
staff, that this meant a move towards a reduced workforce. With this
feeling by many, the atmosphere in the workplace was chaotic,
tense and very de-motivating. Employees were asking for support
from the team but did not receive the support needed. The
comments were always that there was more important and pressing
activities that needed to be done first. This presented a lot of tension
and mistrust between staff and the project team.

Staff also felt that there was a very limited amount of communication
being provided to employees. This lack of communication meant
that staff did not recognize or even see the need to change the
business systems and therefore didn’t see the benefits. The lack of
communication before the go live date saw a high percentage of
staff turnover in particular areas of the business such as customer
service. It wasn’t till new staff were employed and the resistance to
change was lower that the acceptance of the new system improved.
At this stage training was still lacking and this did not help in
reducing the fear and concerns about the new system. It was not
until the new system was running and significant limitations were
being seen that the organization identified that areas such as
training and support needed to be boosted to assist employees that
were struggling with operating the new system.

The Political frame is the view point is focusing on conflict and

power. All individuals have a diverse range of opinions and beliefs
that clash and there was significant clashes in this change process
due to responsibility changes.

The business units from each division have had a significant amount
of autonomy in their business and the process of implementing an
ERP system was one that caused much frustration. Each business
unit needed to hand over ownership and coordination of their

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business data including all customer and financial information. With

the fear of losing control, many of the business units were reluctant
to assist in providing the data required in a timely fashion. This in
turn was making it harder to get approval for critical design
decisions and the hesitation to make decisions. This in turn caused
the loss of commitment of the business units due to the ever
changing project schedule. The more frequently this occurred the
more the business managers saw that they where losing their
independence and control and were reluctant to get involved in the
system. Bitterness developed and comments started circulating as
to why there was an actual need for the ERP system.

The Symbolic frame view point shows that that people are creative
through expression and energy so as to achieve at a higher level of
being. This was most probably the biggest limiting factor of this ERP
system implementation. It produced the largest cultural shift ever
seen in this organisation.

The barrier to change was that the employees did not see the need
to change which is seen with many other organizations that
implement ERP systems. (Huq, Huq, & Cutright 2006) Whether it
was the worker on the shop floor, supervisors, production
managers, middle management and even senior management
throughout the organization, there was a significant reservation
about this whole process. The main reason for this was due to the
culture of the business. Though the organization has been a global
company for many years, there was always a sense that because
each business division always operated independently they had the
feeling of a much smaller and more personal business. As long as
the business unit constantly achieved their financial targets set by
the corporate office the business was left alone to do what if felt it
needed to do to achieve its targets. Because of this small business
feel, employees were given much flexibility in expressing
themselves and being creative that gave them a personal

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connection to the organization. People could try new concepts and

approaches to business which is one of the main reasons for the
businesses success in the last 10 years. This flexibility and
independence was feared to be lost with the change and in turn also
affected the developed culture of being entrepreneurial as these
new processes would stifle this idea.

What does not help with this feeling across the business also relates
to an already major change in the business less than 8 months
before. This change involved a major business unit restructuring
project that saw the integration and separation of two divisions. This
change process though important in aligning the business globally
saw a significant negative cultural adoption by both divisions. This
involved many employees requiring either moving offices or job role
changes and having to handle organizational structural and cultural
differences. This produced a new organizational division with new
roles and objectives in a business that they did not totally grasp.
This produced a significant negative cultural change and showed
too many employees that the organization did not have a good
handle on the impact of the businesses culture when implementing
a change process. Having failed once already in a short period of
time did not give any employee confidence that the organization
would get it right the second time around.

12 months on from go live, the ERP system has become a lot more
stable and is being better received from both the employees and the
customer. There is still a lack of utilizing the system to its full
potential internally, both at an employee level and management
level and there is still a high resistance to the adoption of the
system. Customers believe that their level of service is still poor
compared to the level of service they received from the old system.
There are many deep scars in the organization because of the ERP
implementation and the biggest impact has been a significant

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negative effect to the organization in terms of sales and customer

satisfaction as well as a reduced staff satisfaction level.


It is a growing trend that large organizations are moving towards

implementing ERP systems in an effort to improve efficiencies and
to become more effective to allow for them to stay competitive in
today’s market. Just take a look at the impact on Levi Strauss when
they implemented a new of ERP infrastructure known as SAP.
(Sterlicchi 2008) This change management was introduced to try
and achieve greater efficiencies within the business by setting up of
a more structured approach providing improved processes. The
problem was that the new processes put in place did not consider
how people in the organisation felt about interfacing with the new
system. Because the business did not consider the human factor as
identified by Ilkka Kemppainen in his case study on Change
Management Perspectives in an ERP Implementation,
(Kemppainen) in the change process the expected efficiencies were
not achieved and profitability suffered as a result.

Implementing ERP systems however is not a cookie cutter process.

Each system needs to be different to fit the business needs and
requires re-engineering to achieve this. But it is not just a matter of
implementing a process with the right skills and technology. It’s
more importantly about the people. It is the people’s perspective on
what the system means to them and their beliefs for such a change
to be successful. Employees lose a lot of their own personality in the
trend towards globalization. In this particular example where the
main impact has been the integration of multiple business units and
at many levels, implementing an ERP system in this organization
has seen a core change in the way that the organization is
structured, the responsibilities that people have, the culture of the

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business and the management requirements needed. When

implementing change such as this, the organization did not fully
understand the impact that would see issues develop in the areas of
communication, implementation of change, change review, people
culture factors, barriers of change and leadership. Though process
improvements is one area that needs addressing, it’s the cultural
and political areas that significantly limits change. (El Sawy, 1995)

If the business is to move forward and learn from this experience in

the way in which they implement future ERP systems in other
counties, the organization needs to consider the change
management process carefully when implementing change.
Management must demonstrate total support for the system and
admit to limitations early on rather than indicate that all is running
smoothly when it is obvious to others that there are actually
problems. The organization needs to identify and develop strategies
for barriers in the area of authority and control. Political power
players need to be identified and strategies implemented to get
these people on board with the process so as to limit the negativity
that may be raised through these people. And finally communication
needs to be facilitating early and often enough to improve the
transparency of information. (Kemp and Low, 2008) Education to
employees must be a priority from the start of the project and
various forms of training need to be implemented to ensure this.
(Roberts and Barrar, 1992).


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Author Unknown. Implementing Change Powerfully and

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Cavanaugh, J. (2004) We Need to Reframe the IT Issue. Educause


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personal change management, process, plans, change
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