Back in the day, I was a late addition to a $40 million ERP implementation project team. To me, this was pretty exciting stuff, as it was my first EPR implementation and they were mere weeks away from go-live at their first of many manufacturing plants across the country. The team had spotted a gap in their deployment plan, so they brought me in to support the go-live and facilitate the shipping and receiving functions of the plant. I was told the entire department had been well trained, that the new scanning technology was in place and that the expectation was for smooth sailing for the cutover to the new ERP system. And I believed them.
When the new system went live, the warehouse team looked to me for direction and instruction. Sure, they had been trained on simple tasks like creating and editing records and basic EPR platform functions, but had not been taught many other core shipping and receiving functions that they would need to perform daily. Very quickly, the production schedule came barreling in like a steam engine, with dozens of trailers to be loaded, exponentially more to be unloaded and new shipments scheduled for as far as the eye could see. I had naively walked into a buzz-saw of a deployment, but learned a valuable lesson that helped shape Empellor CRM’s methodology and Dynamics CRM implementation support all these years later.
Train to a Best Practice Process
I learned that for users of new technology to be successful and effective in their jobs, they need to be well trained on clearly defined processes, ideally built upon best practices. Each user should be required to pass tests demonstrating they understand the processes and are able to execute them effectively.
While this process may seem simple, you might be surprised at just how elusive documented core processes and best practices can be for some companies, particularly those that have experienced operational hurdles like rapid growth, changes in management or other work flow challenges.
Buy-In Starts at the Top
Every CRM implementation must have an executive sponsor, preferably the CEO or owner, as well as including key stakeholders from all departments. Building consensus at this level for the vision and strategy for the implementation establishes the foundation for all future communications from this group.
The communications (note that this is plural indicating a series of messages) should articulate the benefits to the business but must also include the benefits to the users.
Be as candid as possible about the current problems the implementation is targeting to resolve.
Achieving User Buy-In
Beyond defined processes and proper training, a successful implementation of CRM truly requires users to buy into using the new system. Without user buy-in, the technology is mostly useless, so it’s critical that the CRM makes it easy to perform tasks, solve problems and provide quick, easy access to critical information.
Acknowledge that while change is often uncomfortable and requires an adjustment period, there will be enough training and additional support provided during this period to make the cutover as painless as possible. Lastly, make it clear to the users that they have a voice and their feedback and suggestions will be valued.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Keep in mind though that even the best implementations often experience pockets of resistance – and that it is up to senior management to address the issue. Some clients tie compensation plans or a reward structure to the use of the system, while others simply mandate process adherence.
You have to decide on what approach works best for your business operations and culture, but I strongly recommend taking a proactive approach rather than waiting to see how adoption flushes out on its own.
Train Early and Often
Another critical component of user adoption and engagement is comprehensive, ongoing training in best practices using Dynamics CRM. Some team members will be overwhelmed at the onset of the new processes and anxious of using the new technology, regardless of how much training they have received. Pushback is just human nature for some.
Utilize a training portal structured by job role. Training portals make it easy for the users to undergo initial training and also to review training whenever needed. The training content must be comprehensive covering basic operations as well as advanced and infrequently performed operations. If possible, utilize both video step-by-step guides as well as downloadable guides they can keep on their desk for easy reference.
Utilize Your Power Users
We recommend that you create a designated team of power users early in the process and be sure to include users from every department in the company. Invite them to all key meetings and provide them as much training as possible.
Post go-live, this team serves as the frontline support in each department. Additionally, they should personally contact each user of the new system to get their feedback, as well as give them the opportunity to ask questions, receive personal attention, and possibly schedule additional follow-up training.
This initial contact should occur rather quickly after go-live - ideally within three to five days -and then should be repeated around 30 days post go-live. The initial contact will help users achieve a level of comfort in using the new CRM, while the follow up helps to avoid any major roadblocks and keeps the momentum of the deployment moving forward.
Establish A Feedback Loop
A formal feedback mechanism is also important when establishing long-term implementation success and full user adoption. Feedback and the free exchange of enhancement ideas allows issues to surface in real time – and can then be vetted, prioritized and addressed for future releases.
There is great value in giving users a legitimate voice and the ability to contribute to improving the processes and technology they use to perform their jobs. Another great opportunity for feedback is regularly scheduled user meetings, training sessions or webinars that includes discussion time where users can give their perspective on how processes and the CRM can be improved.
For more details about bolstering your employees and driving user adoption during your CRM implementation, call Empellor CRM at 303-482-2909 or visit our