At NexusTek, we have been implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems for over 20 years (although back then they were called contact management systems). We have been implementing Dynamics CRM for more than 12 years (since version 1.0) and have many implementations under our belt. During this time we have certainly learned the ins and outs of the Dynamics CRM application, many times the hard way. Equally important however, we have learned some critical things that the client organization must do to ensure the success of the implementation project.
One major concern our clients have when implementing a new CRM system is user adoption. Often members of a client implementation team have been through or heard from their peers about implementations that failed because the users did not adopt the new system. There can be many reasons why users do not adopt a system. Some of these include: picking the wrong software, picking the wrong implementation partner (or no implementation partner), not involving stakeholders in the system selection and deployment process, inadequate end-user system and process training, and inadequate end user support after they go live. There is one thing however that an organization must consider that is more important than all of these things combined. The organization must have top down management commitment to the adoption of the system.
In most cases, management have a clear understanding of why they are implementing a new CRM system and what organizational benefits they are trying to obtain from it. In many cases however, they don’t know the steps to take to ensure that users will adopt the system so that they can obtain the desired benefits. At a minimum, we recommend that management answer three simple questions:
What is expected of each of the users of the system? Think about who will be using the system and then group the users by role (Sales Manager, Outside Sales, Inside Sales, Sales Administration). Next, define what behaviors you expect from the users in each role as they pertain to the new system. (Outside salespeople should have all open opportunities entered in the system and updated each week before the Friday morning sales meeting). Next, tie that expected behavior back to the business objectives of the system. (Accurate and timely opportunity data is used to produce company financial forecasts each Monday). Lastly, consider what behaviors are not tied to the business objectives of the system and eliminate them. (Do we really need salespeople to track all of their activities against an opportunity in order to obtain an accurate weekly financial forecast? ).
How will we determine if the users are meeting the expectations? Think about how to measure or monitor the expected behaviors to make sure they are happening. The system can and should support this. For example, the goal functionality in Dynamics CRM can be configured to capture activity (number of first appointments) or results, (sales volume), compare it against a goal, and display it in a chart on a dashboard. List views can be configured to show past due records (opportunities with estimated close dates in the past). Workflows can escalate and / or send alerts when conditions are not met (opportunity has spent more than 2 weeks in the Discovery phase). A report can be written and automatically emailed out on a weekly basis that stack ranks the users in respect to their expected behaviors (top ranked inside sales reps by outbound call volume). The data in the system should be used as a basis for team or individual meetings to uncover gaps (Salespeople are not allowed to discuss their opportunities in the weekly sales meeting unless those opportunities are entered in the system).
What are the consequences to the user if they do or do not meet expectations? This is the most difficult question to answer as well as to implement, and often requires significant organizational change to accomplish effectively. This is where the rubber meets the road however, where implementations succeed or fail. Think about how to align the user’s motivation with the business objectives of the system. Motivation can be positive (top 3 producers each month get recognition and a spiff) and / or negative (sales orders with no corresponding opportunity in the system are not eligible for commission). A few users of a new system will immediately embrace it, a few others will be dragged along kicking and screaming, but most users will take a “wait and see” attitude to determine just how serious management is about the new system and new processes. Defining the consequences (and then following up on them) will inform the users that management is indeed serious about user adoption.
By answering these three questions management can begin to pave the way to user adoption of their new CRM system which in turn will pave the way to obtaining the desired benefits of the system. If your organization could benefit from high user adoption for your new CRM system, or to address any other business objectives you might have, please contact