I recently attended the CRM User Group at the Microsoft Campus in Reading (UK). If you haven’t gotten involved with the CRM User Group yet I would thoroughly recommend it. It is run by a Microsoft  MVP  called Adam Vero. Adam is a top bloke and fantastic MCT so definitely worth attending as this event attracts a good number of users, administrators and CRM Consultants too, all looking to share their knowledge.
Anyway, back on topic….
We had a round table discussion about managing CRM projects and the issue that kept coming up again and again was the age-old question for any Microsoft Dynamics CRM Administrator……..
How do I get users, management, even IT to buy-in to both the product and the project?
Now, anyone who has ran any sort of software implementation project  will have faced this challenge before. The reason for a lack of, or perceived lack of, interest from your user base can be for different reasons depending on the users:

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  • Management – The VAST  majority of successful implementations I have been involved in were lead from the top. Far from just ensuring that the project is delivered on time and signing the cheques, a good management team will support both the project processes (detailed scoping & requirements gathering, development etc..) but will also be fully engaged in any  changes to business process. Without this level of backing, delivering a successful CRM project (i.e. one that delivers real, tangible business benefits short and long term) is incredibly difficult.
NB: This is also true of Users & IT but we will be discussing this in Parts 2 & 3 of this series.
Ok, so with that thoroughly depressing picture what can be done? In my experience there is no standard formula for success with this, but a tailored approach is crucial. Depending on what issues you are experiencing, you can create a strategy of measures that work for you. This can be flexible also so that as the user adoption issues change, your strategy for dealing with it can too. So what measures are available to you?
Measure – Establish A Project Board
  • Who For – Management

  • What To Do – Managing a CRM project can be a very lonely place, whether you are an outside consultant or an internal project lead. Every project will have its ups and downs and support from senior management is absolutely essential. Forming a Project Board is different from your project team. The project team will consist of individuals at all levels. However the Project Board will generally consist of (1) the Project Lead, (2) the main Project Sponsor and (3) at least 1 other member of senior management (director level). This means that when high level strategy is being discussed, a fair and accurate picture of your progress is given. In addition, when the project slows due to a lack of a decision being taken, you have individuals with the authority to either make the decision or take the delay on the chin on your behalf.
    Measure – Control The Message
    • Who For – Management

    • What To Do – Ensure that very early on you identify the objectives of your project from the perspective of the management team and ensure that progress on these objectives is regularly measured and reported on. This can be a challenge, particularly when you have issues but control how those issues are communicated. If they have no impact on the deliverability of the management objectives don’t open your mouth unless necessary.
    Measure – Issue Weekly Project Updates
    • Who For – Management

    • What To Do – Any CRM project will ebb and flow when it comes to progress. Meetings with users to under
      stand feedback, getting documentation and sign-off and overcoming technical issues can all seem to take time with not much to show for it. This is why
      issuing weekly project updates is so critical. This allows you to front-up to the management team exactly what IS being achieved and where there are sticking points can be an excellent way of demonstrating the impact of these. This means that management are far more likely to support rather than question your progress.
    Measure – Empower Users To Take Responsibility
    • Who For – Management

    • What To Do – An approach that is often taken by management teams is the sledgehammer approach (“Your having this system whether you like it or not!”). This often ends in wasted money, time and enthusiasm. Empowering users to give input goes a long way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Make it clear to end users who are involved that not only is there feedback welcome but it will have a direct impact on what the system looks like. Let them have considerable input into decisions, particularly around business process.
    Measure – Do What You Said You Would Do When You Said You Would
    • Who For – Management

    • What To Do – This is probably the simplest of measures but is so very important. Set realistic deadlines, push back if you feel expectations that are being put on you or the team are unrealistic, even putting your concerns down in writing, but then when you commit to a date…meet it. Trust is a key issue in any project as you need the management team to trust your view on how the project is going. If you make promises that go unfulfilled this trust will evaporate. On the other hand, if you do what you said you would when you said you would, it will engender support from those overseeing the project. 

    As we said at the start, none of these are the proverbial silver bullet, nor will using all of them guarantee success. Much depends on the size of your organisation and a realistic view of what is achievable. However, using a combination of these can get you a long way towards delivering a great project. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is by far the best CRM solution in the marketplace. A great project delivery will only enhance the way your organisation views it and you!
    But what about getting buy-in from End Users? This will be discussed in the next article in our series out on Friday
    If you are struggling with user adoption and would like some help and support, we would welcome the chance to discuss this further with you. We have worked with thousands of users over the years and we are confident that we can help support you. To arrange a discussion, please click here 
    Hope this helps, please feel free to add any comments below.

    Joel Abbott – xRM Consultant.