How to Increase User Adoption During CRM Implementations

By Jon Immel | June 25, 2019

If not managed well, the transition to a new CRM system can be a time consuming, and stressful process for a company to begin. It is no surprise to people familiar with the business applications industry that projects often stall or fail for many different reasons, one being User Adoption. All of this leads to apprehension about tackling the adoption of new solutions.

However, the changing business landscape and the benefits a company can realize many are transitioning to new systems to stay competitive. With high risks and high rewards being considered, this blog series aims to inform you of how to increase User Adoption during CRM implementations. In the next blog in this series, I will invite you into the mind of a consultant to explore how we prepare to navigate User Adoption as well. The topics discussed below include common adoption issues and four main considerations when implementing new CRM software.

What Causes User Adoption Issues?

There are a variety of issues that can result in adoption issues. Lack of training and support and system design are both issues, however, besides those two, there are countless other issues. User adoption issues are nuanced, and these issues, or others, will inevitably affect an implementation. This blog seeks to discuss key action items your company should consider before starting a CRM implementation.

1. Employ an Active, Visible Project Sponsor

This is the most important component of creating change inside of a company, especially for a new software implementation. The change management consultant group, Prosci, considers “Active and visible executive sponsorship” the most important, best practice regarding change management. In fact, it has been the number one best practice since 1998. Having this executive sponsor can inspire the rest of the company to recognize the implementation as a positive change instead of wanting to stick to what is familiar.

2. User Involvement

If users do not know how to use the system or understand how beneficial it will be, there is not much that can be done to change that opinion. In an implementation, it is important to select a few staff members to be involved in the discussions of how to design software. Just like it is important for there to be buy-in from leadership to support a project, it is important to frequently involve end users of different kinds to provide constant feedback. By showing them a newer, better system every time they experiment, they will be more excited for the end product. If end users are not shown the new system until it is complete, any valuable feedback they could provide will never be considered, and important system requirements may also be missed. These issues can lead to delayed projects, potentially higher costs, and slower user adoption.

3. Implementation Considerations

User adoption often struggles as a result of some simpler components that can easily be integrated for end users. Allowing mobile access to CRM enables salespeople to update account information on the road, utilizing an integration with Outlook allowing for email, and other simple integrations and processes can be done to increase user experience from the beginning of using a system.

4. Training

Training is very related to User Involvement, as mentioned above, but focuses on the method of training staff after the software is complete. Stoneridge Software utilizes Conference Room Pilots (CRPs) to show end users what the system looks like and how it completes all of their processes, and then we “train the trainer” to create an internal expert on the new system. This will enable your staff to be more autonomous after our consultants transition into more of a support role after the implementation work is done. Continuous training is an effective way to remind and enforce best practices and improve user adoption over time.

Industry Implementation Success

Though some companies can be successful at self implementation, the majority are not. The concerns at the beginning of this blog are not promising if you are considering implementing a new system using only internal resources, especially when the amount of time, money, and additional resources go into the decision. Choosing the right company to partner with for this process is vital for the success of the project. Be sure to do your due diligence in selecting a partner that has a clear implementation approach and a consistently positive track record with implementation success, and whose values and culture align with your own. It will make all the difference.

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