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Project Management for CRM Software Implementation

03/03/2017

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Jason G. Barnes, Sr. Business Systems Consultant

While in the early planning phases of a CRM implementation, project managers should brush the dust off of their old high school physics books. It seems those lessons on “objects in motion” can actually be quite useful when managing a CRM project. 

The Planning Phase of CRM Software Implementation

The planning phase of any new software implementation project, CRM or otherwise, should always consist of a Project Risk Assessment. During this process, project managers identify any potential areas of risk to the success of the project.

As a business, it’s important to realize that your CRM project is a success only if your people actually use the system once it’s implemented. In the software business we call this user adoption. Unfortunately, a lack thereof is a common situation that occurs when a new system or process - software or otherwise - is introduced into a business in such a way that there is a general lack of acceptance by its employees. 

Lack of user adoption can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common being the absence of a change management or change mediation plan designed to prevent user adoption from becoming an issue in the first place. Another common reason is the lack of enough employee participation during the crucial discovery, configuration and testing phases of a CRM implementation.

How to Overcome User Adoption Issues

To understand and help combat user adoption issues, we can borrow from our favorite physics vocabulary. In physics we find terms like inertia, force and momentum. All of which in some manner impact an object, or in this case, a CRM user (metaphorically speaking). As it turns out, these principles can aptly describe the wheels that are “in motion” during a software project.

Inertia

Inertia is defined as an object’s resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change in motion. This is how we can often describe new CRM users (employees) at the beginning of a CRM project. Since humans are naturally resistant to change, we can make the argument that they are in a state of inertia, simply going about their business, following the same processes day after day to manage sales leads, manage customers, track customer support cases, create new quotes and place orders. Most employees will be content with the status quo, happy to continue down the same, less productive, linear path they’ve been on for years or even decades.

Force

Then we introduce the force, or something that causes a change in the motion of an object. Obviously we are talking about a change in business process, not a favorite 1970s sci-fi galaxy epic.  

Depending on the scope and scale of the CRM project, an employee’s world can be turned upside down by these CRM-related process changes. So it stands to reason that at least some of those employees will be resistant to a change in those processes.

The way or method in which this force/change is introduced to those employees is crucial and should be a top priority for those managing the project.

Here are six instances that create inertia and force in a project:

  1. When the reason for the change is unclear. 
  2. When the proposed users have not been consulted about the change, and it is offered to them as an accomplished fact. 
  3. When the change threatens to modify established patterns of working relationships between people.
  4. When communication about the change has not been sufficient.
  5. When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved.
  6. When the change threatens jobs, power or status in an organization.

Tip:  The implementation of a new CRM system should never be a surprise or secret project hidden from the future users.  That is counterintuitive to the way a collaborative CRM project should be managed and can be disastrous to any preconceived user adoption strategy.  

How Physics Can Help Promote Good User Adoption

You have to inject momentum and its effect on a CRM project and your employees. Momentum is the strength or force that allows an object in motion to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes. In the context of a CRM implementation we should think of employee involvement and participation as giving the project momentum.

Momentum is the secret sauce in any software implementation project.  

A business can build momentum throughout the CRM implementation project by including its employees from the very beginning. A step as simple as conducting an employee survey at the beginning of a CRM project can generate great feedback and create an important sense of employee participation. 

Another way to generate momentum during a CRM implementation project is to designate a power user or users.

What is a Power User?

  • A power user is an employee who is more tolerant of or embraces change, and is typically a person with a higher technical aptitude for software.
  • Power users can be great assets throughout a software project.
  • Their greatest benefit is helping other users to learn the new CRM system and to adopt and accept the changes in business process.
  • A power user, depending on personality, is regarded as a trusted advisor and will often help generate enthusiasm around the CRM project. This added enthusiasm can prove very valuable on those days when something goes wrong during testing or even worse just before Go-Live.

Are You Planning a Software Implementation?

If you are planning a CRM implementation project in the near future remember the lessons we all learned in high school physics class. Momentum is the key to CRM project success, be careful how you use the “force,” and involve your employees early on and often during your CRM implementation. 

While LBMC Technology Solutions may not be physics gurus, we are technology consulting experts. If you need assistance, our team of certified CRM consultants apply their knowledge and experience to work with you and to follow best practices in planning, implementing, executing, and customizing CRM projects.

Increase user adoption and achieve CRM success and with help from LBMC Technology Solutions. Contact us for a free assessment of your CRM needs.

About Jason Barnes

Jason is a technology consultant with more than 15 years of experience in the technology industry. Jason is a certified CRM Consultant with certifications on five popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com.  

Posted in: Technology Services