How to Ensure a Successful CRM Implementation and Adoption

Implementing a CRM system can seem like an overwhelming and daunting project. There are so many technical components to consider. There’s choosing the application; procuring and configuring the necessary hardware; determining the features and functionality to include; developing integrations to other systems; and finally going live with this great new system. Too often, however, all the planning and effort that go into the project does not bring about the expected results and the system is not readily adopted by users.
So what can you do to help ensure better adoption of the system and ultimately a successful project? There are many things to consider beyond just the technical planning and implementation. Below are a few best practices used by organizations who have successfully implemented and adopted CRM within their organization.
1. Management Buy-in
CRM implementations can be a significant investment in both time and money for an organization. To gain the most value from the investment, it is imperative for your leadership team to be committed to the project, not only with providing the funding, but also with being a driving force in the leadership of the project. When employees see a committed leadership team, they are more likely to understand the importance of the project.
2. Involve Users Early
It is important to recognize that any new system brings about change to an organization. Sometimes the change is welcomed and at other times it is not. In either case, with change comes uncertainty for the people affected by that change. Uncertainty can lead to fear of the unknown and sometimes people reject the system before it is even fully implemented. To help mitigate this risk for your project, it is beneficial to include the voice of the user in your implementation process. This might mean interviewing representative users from various groups and incorporating their thoughts in the requirements. It may also mean including some users in the design and planning or ensuring they are represented by someone who understands the end-user processes. Regardless, you should make sure to communicate with users from the planning stages all the way through to implementation and post-implementation follow-up to help ease the fears caused by the unknown.   Many times users who are involved can become champions of the system and spread the excitement about the benefits the new system will bring.
3. Implement in Phases
Whenever possible, it is best to implement CRM in phases. The initial phase should contain enough functionality to improve processes and start to generate excitement about the capabilities of the system. Limiting the functionality in the initial phase provides users with a manageable amount of learning to do, while still gaining benefit from the system. After users have had the opportunity to digest the initial phase, the next set of functionality should be implemented. It is often not be necessary to have a significant lag between phases.
4. Business Process First, Technology Second
Although CRM is a technology, the driving force behind it should be the business processes, not the technology. A CRM implementation will be more successful if it fits the intended business processes rather than forcing the business processes to fit the system. It is sometimes tempting to adopt a “build it and they will come” ideology, but this can lead to poor user adoption as the system does not adequately address the business requirements needed. Taking the time to define the business processes which will be addressed by the system and then designing the system in a scalable manner to meet those requirements will lead to a more successful implementation
5. Provide Training
Training is an important element of any new implementation. Without the proper training, users may have difficulty learning the proper use of the system.  As a result, they may become frustrated and resistant to using the CRM system. At this point, the data in the system may become incomplete and untrustworthy, which can lead to further frustration. Without allowing time for training, it can appear as a lack of commitment to the system from the leadership team. Training should ideally be role-based in order to allow users to easily understand what they need to do in relation to their job function. Whenever possible, training should be ongoing and provided in small sections to increase the retention of the information learned.
6. Gather Feedback
Provide users with the ability to provide feedback and suggestions for changes in the system. This allows for the continual improvement of the system and helps ensure that the system stays relevant. A CRM system implementation should not be thought of as done once it has been implemented. It is only just the beginning! The most successful CRM implementations are those that continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the business.
That’s all for today, readers! For more information on CRM User Adoption, check out the following:

See the 10 Ingredients of User Adoption
Attend the User Adoption and Training Effectively Workshop
Watch 30 User Adoption Tips in 30 Minutes (Youtube Video)

We hope that with these tips, your CRM implementation goes as smooth as possible! Engaging with PowerObjects can make this entire process seamless and easy, so contact us today with any questions about how we can help you succeed!
Happy CRM’ing!