Rage against the Machine – Tears, Frustration, and the ERP System

When I went into the room I found her crying.

From her gaze I understood that I should stop, change direction, and leave the office. She needed time to calm down, and I would not be the one to stand in her way. I will return when the rage had passed.


I was in the midst of the launch of an ERP system in a large organization. My team and I were busy handling dozens of users, hundreds of daily tasks and inquiries – How do we do this? What do we do? Why doesn’t this work?

The pressure was immense. It is possible to see the different responses of the users. Crying is one of them.

Rage and Frustration against the Machine

But crying is only a symptom, and I personally understand the natural situation of this user. The launch of the ERP system is a pressuring event. The pressure takes its toll. Generally this is a significant change in the daily work processes, and the change comes with great fear. For some of the people this is a frustrating process that awakens a sense of rage.

Why Are You Crying?

Some of the frustration can derive from the difficulty in performing the ongoing work because of the lack of familiarity with the new processes or the new system. There is the  fear that the work output will decline and pressure to finish the tasks will be created. A user can fear that he will lose his position if he does not know how to work with the system. Or he can fear that he will lose his position since the system will take his place. There are cases in which the fear is that the new system will not support work processes, and there is even the fear that the user’s work processes and ‘professional secrets’ will be revealed. Furthermore, the feeling that the system serves ‘big brother’ does not benefit the process.

All’s Well that Ends Well

In the end, the same user calmed down, and I went back to her office to see her. We sat together, and I explained to her again how the system works. I showed her that what needs to be done is not that different from what she has done until today. The screens are a bit different, and the buttons are a bit different. After she had calmed down, with a few words of encouragement we took another step towards her mastery of the system.

Over time, the use of the system will become natural. Or as another user told me: “I no longer remember how to work with the old system”.

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