In part two of a three-part series on common CRM implementation issues and how to avoid them, we look at change management and adoption strategy.
For those embarking on a CRM project it is critical to avoid the same mistakes others have so frequently, and innocently, made in the past.
In the previous chapter, we discussed how CRMs are not financially governed, which makes CRM data and transactions (almost) optional when it comes to generating sales. We also highlighted why it’s important for business executives to own and lead the project.
In this chapter, we will cover the importance of implementing a change management and adoption strategy – particularly when migrating from an on-premise CRM to the cloud.
Why a CRM Change Management Strategy Matters
When it’s time to implement a new CRM system or migrate an existing one to the cloud – such as Dynamics 365 for Sales – it is important to consider who will be using it, including their work habits and how comfortable they are with technology. Some people adapt to change very well and some even drive change initiatives, while others simply fear change and are terrified of new systems or new methods.
Whenever you hear the phrase: “We have always done it that way,” understand and make a note that the person saying it and perhaps the entire department will not adjust to a new system very well. As someone who has implemented and managed many CRM and ERP projects successfully, that statement warns me to proceed with caution. It’s like saying “I don’t adjust to changes very well” or “I am unwilling to change my processs.”
Understanding the people and work methods involved will allow you to develop a change management strategy that provides an individualized plan to get people working in the new solution in the least disruptive way possible. You will also be able to create a CRM adoption strategy that defines and advertises the benefits of using the CRM system to each affected group of users.
Without a change management strategy, here’s what you can expect when you launch:
- 30% of users will be ready to work
- 30% of users will need some assistance and handholding but will be efficient within a few days
- 40% of users will continue to operate as if the CRM doesn’t exist at all
The result is a failed implementation – whether the end comes within a few days or a few months. The outcome is always data degradation, inaccurate reporting, and frustrated users.
A change management strategy accounts for each of class of users and provides the necessary training, guidance, and empathy prior to your CRM launch to ensure everyone is ready to operate the system correctly. More importantly, it ensures everyone is willing to operate the system correctly.
Think about it in terms of the users themselves. Let’s say a company wanted to eliminate Microsoft Outlook with preference for a webmail client solution. Older, or as I call myself, seasoned users embrace reading email in Microsoft Outlook. They have likely used it for years and are comfortable with it. Younger users, college graduates for example, prefer webmail and are not familiar with Outlook as an email client. These younger users have all they need on their cell phone while the seasoned user requires at least a laptop, if not a desktop.
In this simple scenario, there are obvious differences, so it’s risky to simply prepare a Go Live plan assuming everyone will embrace the new email client efficiently. A change management strategy would prepare seasoned users with proper training and guidance on the new email client, while briefing younger users and providing them with a source for questions.
Compare this simple scenario to a much larger CRM implementation with a lot of moving parts and change, and you can see there’s a compelling need for a change management strategy.
Why a CRM Adoption Strategy Matters
A CRM adoption strategy aids the change management strategy by answering the obvious user question: “What’s in it for me?” The adoption strategy looks at the affected groups and attempts to provide a value proposition at each level in exchange for proper use.
Using a sales hierarchy, for example, here’s what that would look like:
- Vice President of Sales
- Director of Sales
- Sales Manager
- Territory Sales Representatives
An adoption strategy would look at each level in this hierarchy and define a return for effort as well as a method to keep processing within the CRM to provide the highest level of data integrity.
A perfect example of a value proposition is Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Sales Manager performance meetings. It’s a simple scenario but shows how proper usage can drive greater adoption.
If the Sales Manager gets performance reporting from the Accounting Department and uses this data during sales performance meetings, the sales representatives will know their activities do not drive performance meetings and will not be incentivized to use the system. If the Sales Manager defines the KPIs in the CRM and uses CRM reporting to drive performance meetings, sales representatives will know their activities have value and will support CRM usage.
Sales representatives need to be given good reasons to use the system beyond “good data and reporting.” You must design a method that allows the sales rep to easily find and change sales.
Executives need a way to measure sales performance against budgets from within a CRM so everyone below their level sees the value of it. And, budget-to-actual reporting must be easy to produce with optional automated delivery.
Defining how people work and developing a meaningful strategy to address their change readiness, as well as a value proposition, will increase the likelihood of success with higher adoption and increased accuracy.