Not everyone loves new technology. In fact, introducing something new to your business that involves changing work practice or learning a new way of doing something can be one of the hardest things a manager has to tackle.
When working in the IT industry it is easy to be seduced by the next ‘bright shiny thing’ being introduced by a software vendor. Business managers can often see the benefits of a new technology but are unsure about how to introduce it to staff.
I recently worked with a client who found themselves in this position. The client has some long-serving sales staff who have proven to be non-responsive to change when new technology was introduced in the past. Management were very concerned to make a success of the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics CRM software as a tool for managing client interactions and sales.
As management were aware of the risks of introducing new work practices involving the increased data entry and use of computer software to the sales staff, we (as a consulting organisation) were able to formulate plans and design the initial system rollout in such a way as to minimise the demands on sales staff while still realising some important business goals.
One simple example was in the area of sales pipeline management. It was felt that the first stage of the software and business practice rollout would not include the active management of the sales pipeline by sales staff. However, sales staff would be required to record sales closed as ‘won’. The initial focus therefore, was on customer relationship management (recording interactions with clients in the form of email and phone calls) and the recording of sales won.
There were a number of key elements that needed to be captured when recording a sale, so the Microsoft CRM Dialog tool was used to guide sales staff through the questions to be answered, then the dialog automatically created the Sales Opportunity record, attached it to the relevant client and sales person, and closed the opportunity as won.
This meant the sales staff effectively only had to work with CRM at the Contact (client) level and record interactions and sales from this record. Training was subsequently tailored to this process and the client is now using the system live, and sales staff have accepted the new processes. Once these practices are embedded, the business will then decide the next steps in expanding the use of their CRM system to realise additional business benefits.
You might notice that all through this short monologue I have not mentioned the words “change management” even once. However, change management was exactly what the focus was in this first stage of the CRM implementation for this client. While they made their purchase decision based on all the cool things that can be done with Microsoft CRM, their implementation approach was essentially to dumb the system down to a level were staff would accept the new system but management would still realise some of its goals for the new system.
It is a timely reminder today with Microsoft CRM 2013 being released. There are a lot of cool things being introduced in this major version release that many businesses will find of benefit to their operation. But as consultants we must always keep in the back of our mind (and sometimes will be our major focus) that it is not all about technology. The people who have to use this technology must be brought along for the journey.
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