The Top 3 Things You Need to Do to Smooth Your CRM System Implementation

#3: Don’t overlook change management. What? Change management? That fluff? Come on, we’re all adults here. We’re all professionals. We don’t need change management. We can count on everyone to support the effort and do what they’re supposed to do. We hate our current system and cannot wait to start using the new one. Wrong. I recently trained a large number of users in preparation for a go live, and I had a number of students who could out-pout my 9-year-old daughter. It sounds funny, but it’s not. I’ve encountered this kind of behavior with every client I’ve ever worked with. Passive-aggressive behavior like that, which probably showed up at other points during the implementation project, can lower everyone’s morale and inhibit buy-in. Getting real buy-in is key to getting back up to full speed quickly and realizing the expected ROI that drove you to make a change in the first place. Such behavior slows and lowers the quality of decision making during the implementation as well. Address it proactively and continuously.

#2: Train Train Train. I can’t emphasize this point enough. I have yet to see an organization anywhere that provides enough training for its staff, and this applies generally – I’m not limiting this to training users on a new system. Typically the majority of users-to-be of the new system get a few training sessions right before going live, which is not nearly enough to have them ready to do their jobs only a week or two later! Hand-in-hand with involving staff strategically throughout the project (which is crucial for adoption) I recommend providing training early on (and again before going live, of course). What I most commonly see are staff who are pulled in sporadically to help with some piece of the project – process testing, validation of converted data, etc. – but who struggle and get frustrated because they don’t know nearly enough about the basics of how to use the new system. Providing the opportunity to get genuinely comfortable with the new tool early on leads to more engagement throughout the implementation process as well as higher confidence and competence when things get real.

#1: Dedicate people resources. The biggest thing that organizations do not anticipate and are not prepared for is the massive workload created by an implementation (and, often, by the ongoing demands the new, more powerful system creates once live; you’ll probably need to staff up permanently as well.). Expecting key staff to balance the demands of their day-to-day jobs with those of the project leads to a great deal of stress, and neither priority is fully served. Get help – dedicated project staff and consultants can not only balance the burden, but the right expertise will help your organization have a much more successful experience.

Be sure to join me and my Zuri Group colleagues at the 2015 AASP conference in Chicago next month. I’ll be speaking on this very topic – successful CRM system implementations. I hope to see you there.

Brandon Ferris
Senior Director of Strategic Services and Fundraising Counsel
Web:               Zuri Group
E-mail:             brandon@zurigroup.com
Twitter:            @datadrivenbf
Blog:                datadrivenfundraising.com

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