There are many aspects of change management from a technical standpoint. These usually include things such as having a Change Advisory Board (CAB), anticipating and mitigating process and system failures, and updating procedures for support and maintenance. Something that is absolutely critical to the success of any CRM system are the people who use it. Unfortunately, in the excitement of improving the system, the users can often be overlooked.
Change is difficult on most people, and unexpected changes can be frustrating and confusing, especially for Salespeople who want to quickly consume or input data in their CRM and focus on spending time with their next customer.
As organizations mature in their processes and systems, it is important to have a consistent change management process in place. This process should include a communication plan to help users prepare for, and embrace upcoming system enhancements. A good communication plan will address the potential concerns users may have, explain the benefits of the change, and let people know when to expect the updates.
Knowing what your audience finds important can help while crafting communications. Customize your messages to different business segments as needed to ensure the important aspects of the message gets across correctly. For example, people in the Finance department will likely not care about changes to the way Sales will document customer interactions. Customize communications differently for each group to help grab their attention. Communications should focus on both the benefits to the Company and what’s in it for the users.
People may be tempted to overlook communications from a Project Manager or System Administrator. When possible, have communications come from an Executive Sponsor. This will let users know that management is onboard with the change and it can increase interest in the communication. As people in executive levels are often pretty busy, it is usually helpful to draft a message for them to refine and modify.
Nothing stirs up fear like rumors around the water cooler. Don’t wait until after changes have been deployed. It is helpful to keep communication flowing throughout the development cycle. Well in advance of any changes, communicate that enhancements will be taking place at a very high level. It is perfectly acceptable for users to understand that you do not have all the details just yet. This allows them to feel the process is transparent and to prepare for changes to be made in the near future.
During the development process, communicate additional details about what exactly will be changing and the reasons behind the change. Change is a lot easier to handle if people understand what the current issues are and how the change will decrease or resolve the issues. If possible, conduct web meetings or in person sessions for Power Users to see the upcoming changes and ask questions. These users can help inform others of the upcoming change and allow them to help others once the change is deployed.
As the deployment day draws nearer, communicate and outline of the deployment plan. Include information such as when users will be trained and how they’ll be supported. Warn them of any downtime or issues that may occur (such as having to update their report filters). Once the changes have been launched, send out another communication to celebrate the enhancements and remind people where to find help and training.
Change can be difficult. Through frequent, targeted communication, you can ensure that the changes are expected and users are prepared (and maybe even excited).
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