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Change Management for CRM Implementations November 20, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Change Management, Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
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In the last few weeks I have again been reminded that as CRM 2016 nears there is a huge amount of technical and application related tweets, blogs and other postings filling the airwaves, the list of the new features in Microsoft Dynamics 2016 is staggering.

And meanwhile back on the front line some companies may be struggling with the reality that the introduction of any new system, technology or process involves change. It is evident that some of the new functionality if embraced, will require a level of change.

In order to illustrate the impact of change I will just highlight one feature out of the current Microsoft Dynamics CRM offering and outline what change means just for this single context.

Consider for a moments the “Goals” functionality, this is a very powerful and sophisticated toolset that sells easily to higher management, where the reality for the implementers and users is that the introduction of this functionality is likely to involve some considerable change in the day to day operation of the business.

For example once the functionality has been implemented there will be the capability to showcase total visibility as to the Target and Actual, for any number of metrics that can now be measured. And as we all well know from management 101, “If you can’t measure it, it is hard to manage it”.

However to implement this functionality encapsulates a lot more than just this measurement. For example In order to have targets for phone calls and appointments set in goals, it would also mean that the users have to create, complete and then close those appointments and phone calls in the application. This could be another change to the current process, accompanied by a very real possibility that there may be a little resistance from the ranks at this change.

There are therefore many steps and logical machinations that require change management just for this one small single aspect of the system, and if as is the usual case the implementation is using many more of the wonderful elements of functionality within the Microsoft CRM system there is scope for change management for each and every one of these, there is a ripple effect right across the business.

You really can’t address this with a blanket statement “There will be change” and expect that everyone will rally around on day one and gladly embrace all of the changes.

So what can be done? There is no magic wand, however when organisations are undergoing rapid and considerable change either by the introduction of new systems and processes or even as the result of takeovers and acquisitions some form of change management fundamentals need to be implemented, these can range from the appointment of a Change Management Officer, through to some adequate training for the project managers and administrators who will be implementing the new systems or processes. The overarching element is communication, something you need to be really good at, if you are driving any form of change.

This is a training issue, a management issue and ultimately a corporate responsibility issue, as the introduction of a new system may involve some considerable capital outlay the effect of which needs to be maximised and not wasted.

I think another look at the aviation industry is in order, an Airline introducing a new airliner will need to train the pilots to accept the changes in technology, however the cabin staff need to be trained on the emergency procedures for this aircraft, the ground staff, fuelling and loading cargo specialists need to be trained on the changes that are needed, the list just goes on and on. Everyone has to accept the changes, adapt and ensure that the new processes and procedures are in place. This program of change will be thought about, planned and executed, there is no time or place for non-compliance.

Unfortunately far too often I hear of systems being implemented without the requisite change management planning and even more disturbingly a lack of training. Both of these activities take time and have a cost, an investment that just needs to be made. So when I am on your project, expect to hear my change management chant regularly.

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