How to speed up a CRM project – part 2

In the first part of ‘How to speed up a CRM project’ I set out a range of things you can do to speed up the implementation of a system. But, as I pointed out at the end of the post, this is only half the story. The return on investment is only going to be realised once people start using it, and using it well. And this element of a project can take a long time, and, in some cases, may never actually be achieved.

So, in this post I will cover some of things that can be done to speed up the adoption process:

Be clear on how you expect people to use it – It might sound obvious, but often there isn’t clarity around who is expected to use the system, to do what, and how. So, a key starting point is to make sure each process is fully documented into a usage manual, or a set of standard operating procedures, setting out for each process supported by the system, how the system is to be updated at every step.

Set expectations as to when people need to start using it – It’s important that users understand when they are expected to start using the system. This might be as soon as they are trained, or there may be a period where they are allowed to familiarise themselves with the system or are given time to input existing data. Whatever the situation, to get rapid adoption, it’s important that users are clear on the adoption timelines.

Monitor usage – Perhaps the most important aspect of rapid user adoption is proactive monitoring. This involves checking usage patterns to validate whether users are using the system, and, more importantly, whether they are using it in line with the documented procedures. The monitoring process should assess and sign off, for each user, and each process, that consistent usage patterns have been established.

Have a plan for non-use – If people aren’t using the system in line with the documented processes, then there needs to be a clear plan in place to address the issue. This may involve additional support and training and ultimately potential escalation to their line management. Whatever the agreed plan, it’s important that the activities and timelines are clearly defined, understood and actioned, to ensure usage issues aren’t allowed to drag on.

Have resources in place – User adoption is a surprisingly resource hungry activity. It can take a lot of work to get people using a system consistently and systematically. Monitoring usage and addressing usage issue takes manpower, and the key to rapid adoption is having enough people available to drive the adoption through.

Burn the boats – A new CRM system will likely replace one or many existing systems and data sources. Understanding what these are and ensuring they are decommissioned at an appropriate point after go-live, will help ensure that users commit to the new system and don’t revert to old ways of doing things.

Report, Report, Report – The sooner that you use the CRM system as the primary source of reporting the quicker you will drive consistent usage, and the easier it will be to identify usage issues. To encourage rapid adoption ensure that reports specific to the processes supported are in place and ready to go as soon as the system is live.

By using the techniques we described in part one of this post, it’s possible to slash the time from project initiation to live. Perhaps the more important battle though is cutting the time from go live to consistent adoption, as this is the point at which you start to see a return on your investment in technology. Achieving the successful adoption of a system isn’t a hugely complex undertaking, but it does require as much planning and resourcing as the implementation phase – something that’s often missed in many projects.

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