Imagine – you have completed the rollout of your new (or upgraded) CRM. But…the users are not happy. Some of them are reluctantly using it, and the others are just sticking with email and their spreadsheets – or whatever they were using previously.
When you find that your users are not willing (or able) to use a newly provided CRM solution you are seeing one of the biggest causes of CRM project failure. Many of my clients are surprised about this problem of poor user adoption. You will only see User Adoption challenges after the solution is live. This is because testing users are different to actual users, either because they are working with test scripts, or they have not adopted the world of the users.
It may surprise you to discover that the CRM projects with the greatest risk of a failure in user adoption are those based on technologies which can be radically changed. This is because where there is an opportunity to make a lot of changes, changes and sometimes lots of changes are made. People modify the technology with the aim of meeting business requirements. However, where this modification is not an option, people find ways of learning the software and making it successful. Perhaps we should adopt this approach of learning the technology before we embark on changes!!
A successful CRM project will have done two key things:
- Really taken advantage of the CRM software and how it is designed to be used
- Modified business processes to use the best practice embedded in the software
Causes of poor user adoption
As a user, you will use a new technology because you believe that it delivers benefits to you. Your benefits will be:
- Your job (or at least key tasks) becomes easier
- You achieve your targets or KPIs more quickly than previously
Many users are very focussed on themselves – the WIIFM (or what is in it for me). Projects that mainly deliver benefits to areas of the business outside of the user in question, especially where the people benefitting are senior management, are rarely readily accepted by users.
What does a failure in user adoption mean?
A failure in user adoption means for you as a project sponsor is:
- The project costs more (perhaps significantly more) than you originally anticipated
- Reports do not give you correct information
In a worst-case scenario, project sponsors lose their jobs because of the failure in user adoption and the resultant lost revenue or profit compared to what was expected.
The three key parts of User Adoption
User adoption success has three key parts
- Delivering benefits to the users
- Users knowing how to take advantage of those benefits
- Users believing that the benefits are real – and worth the effort in changing how they do their work
These three parts are achieved differently.
Key Steps to achieve User Adoption
Although you only see user adoption challenges at go live, protecting yourself against these challenges begins well before go-live. A poorly designed solution is unlikely to ever really achieve user adoption -regardless of how much effort is invested.
The key steps are:
- Optimise your business processes
- Understand the key functionality of your chosen technology
- Ensure that your solution design works with your optimised processes
- Provide end user training so the users are confident in their use of the solution.
You can see how these points create poor user adoption the diagram below.
Most organisations acknowledge the importance of the end user training. However, even these organisations too often then sideline this end user training because time or budget has run out. When time or budget runs out, it can often be traced back to unsatisfactory stakeholder involvement, or insufficient testing.
The other three key steps:
- Optimising your business processes
- Understanding the key functionality of your chosen technology
- Ensuring that your solution design works with your optimised processes
are frequently completely overlooked – so it is hardly surprising that there is this failure in user adoption.
Optimising your business processes is important because business processes evolve over time and unless they are reviewed, they are likely to be less-than-perfect. An upcoming CRM implementation is an ideal time to review the processes and remove any wrinkles that have crept in.
Understanding key functionality of your chosen technology prevents reinvention of the wheel. A surprising number of technical implementers of software do not have a good grasp of the standard functionality – functionality that exists before changes are made. These technical people tend to create functionality without realising that it already exists.
Ensuring that your solution design works with your optimised processes means that you support your users with the technology, rather than leaving them to fight with the technology – which will lead to resentment and ultimately a failure in user adoption and project failure. This means that you must base your solution on your business processes – not on a list of requirements
How does Agile fit into this?
Agile project management is an iterative approach to managing projects that focuses on continuous releases and user feedback. However, we can only release to users when there is enough functionality working to meet needs. Please do not fall prey to believing that Agile removes the need for:
or any other aspects of successful implementation. So, choosing to work agilely does not change how you ensure user adoption. Perhaps, it even introduces the risk of too much change, so users get frustrated.
Change Management is essential – and often overlooked or only given lip-service. Any change to processes or systems, will have a technical side and a people side. Change management is the processes, and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. This includes training and support so that the users can embrace the solution.
And if you find yourself in the challenging situation of having poor user adoption in a system that you have already gone live with, what can you do? This will be the subject of a later article.
Who is Gill Walker?
Gill Walker is a Dynamics 365 Success Catalyst: a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Trainer, a Speaker on CRM, an Implementation consulting expert. Her training and consulting company is Opsis – www.opsis.com.au
- Gill Walker is a professional trainer who shares her wide knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics 365 with her training delegates – so they can implement and manage their Microsoft Dynamics 365 more easily and effectively;
- Gill Walker is a speaker who shares her knowledge of varied CRM topics with her audiences;
- Gill Walker is an author who loves spreading knowledge of CRM via articles such as this;
- Gill Walker is an expert consultant who has been helping her clients with their Microsoft Dynamics 365 challenges since 2002;
- Gill Walker is a troubleshooter – who helps organisations with their sticky problems.