In my own (somewhat geeky) opinion, the warm glow of a new CRM system successfully deployed is one of the best feelings in world. There is something deeply satisfying at seeing all the imported data sitting in the correct fields, all beautifully formatted on a pristine looking user interface. And then users actually start to use the system or…….they don’t.
Richard Boardman, in a recent post of 11 reasons why CRM projects fail had two of them that were the direct consequence of poor project and system management post go-live. This is particularly important to me at this time as we are currently in the immediate post go-live period of a major system roll out. This blog post gives my thoughts on how they can be avoided.
In my experience, a successful post go-live strategy relies on understanding three key principles:
- No matter how good your specification and planning has been, the real world is different to any process model.
- No matter how good your training programme has been users always require further support and will make mistakes.
- In order to cement the organisational changes that a CRM system inevitably brings, users require encouragement and prompting until processes become a habit.
Ultimately, all of these principles directly affect user adoption and no system can hope to be called a success if no one is using it. Once we have understood these principles we can begin to address them.
The first step to understanding where any problems may lie is to monitor system usage. At a minimum you should be monitoring who is logging on and when in order to identify individuals or groups that are not using the system. Ideally your monitoring should include:
- Trends of usage – is usage tailing off after the initial excitement?
- Counts of records added or updated – is only a limited part of the system being used?
- Activity by individual user – are certain individuals or groups struggling to use a certain part of the system?
- Detail of changes made – is the system being used in the intended way?
There are a multitude of tools that can provide this information from the in-built data extraction and reporting tools available in most CRM software to full on business intelligence tools.
I firmly believe that taking the time to write a proper usage monitoring report (or reports) up front makes it easier to gather this information and therefore more likely that it will be done.
Gathering User Feedback
The next step to addressing post go-live issues is to gather user feedback. You would expect users to report errors or issues but often these can simply be an excuse for them not to use the system. Alternatively, they may simply not be confident enough to report them (“it must be something I am doing”).
The user feedback gathering process can be targeted at individuals or groups that your usage monitoring has identified as having problems or can be across the entire user base. I think that an approach that incorporates both will yield the best results. The key is that the gathering of feedback is pro-active. Don’t leave it to the users to report it to you.
There is nothing worse than gathering feedback from users about what is not working for them and then doing nothing about it. Users on a new system generally have a very low patience threshold hence it is key to implement as many “quick wins” as fast as possible. Often the simple addition of a picklist option or a basic workflow might make all the difference to one or a group of users and give them the impetus to start using the system.
In all the training sessions on CRM I have ever run I have always told delegates that a CRM that fails to adapt to real world processes is doomed to failure. I have never known a successful system that is unchanged six months after it has been launched.
Directing Appropriate Help
Much like the gathering of user feedback, directing appropriate help to users can be both targeted and more general depending on the results of your monitoring and user feedback. Some possible strategies to consider:
- Offering “refresher” training days to the entire user base.
- Meeting on a one-to-one basis with dis-engaged users.
- Revising and re-issuing any user manuals.
- A series of brief “daily tips” to address specific usage issues.
The important part of all of the above is that they should give users increased confidence in their own ability to use the system and they should further embed the principles behind the system use.
Underpinning all of your post go-live activity should be clear and concise communication with the users. All too often users will get some carefully crafted messages that get them all excited about the launch of the system and then hear nothing else afterwards.
By continuing to communicate with the user base you will keep the system at the forefront of their minds, increasing the chance that using it will become a habit. It also shows them that you are taking any concerns they may have raised seriously and that the system can truly be considered to be “theirs”.
The title of this blog piece summarises how I feel about the effort required post go-live to ensure that any new CRM system is a success. You will no doubt have invested a lot of money and time into the development of your new CRM system so surely taking the time to make sure it is used has to be worth the additional effort? Absolutely!