Want to improve your business through the adoption of new CRM technology but afraid of the risk & pain of change.
As technology evolves, there is a constant challenge to adopt new solutions that affect and dictate the way business is conducted. As a result, businesses are faced with the never-ending task of meeting the demands of not only their clients, vendors, and employees but also navigating the demanding regulatory and compliance environment. It is not uncommon for businesses to attempt to address this through small, incremental changes to their internal processes and their technology systems. However, these minor adjustments and tweaks fail to produce efficient, sustainable solutions to the problem. It also creates a patchwork of processes and technology of loosely connected services and applications that in time resemble a solution held together with bailing wire and duct tape.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many businesses operate with a patchwork of systems and processes that are disjointed and increasingly unable to meet the growing needs and demands of the clients, employees, vendors, risk managers, and compliance auditors. There are a number of concerns that management teams have with replacing their technology solutions, the most prominent of which is new technology or new solution implementation failure. What most fail to realize is that the biggest driver of implementation failure is lack of ownership and adoption of the new system. This fear also forces business leaders into kicking the “technology can” of evolution down the road for another day. This decision only leads to a worse problem as more time passes. Solving this comes down to successfully addressing two key issues: change management and employee buy-in.
Change management is a vital component to the successful implementation of any change (technology, organization, …etc). It is the discipline and commitment demonstrated by the leadership team that lays the foundation for how the organization prepares for a successful adoption of change. And, equally as important, how leadership supports, guides, and educates its people throughout the lifecycle of the implementation of this change.
One of the most effective change management strategies is the creation of a solution selection team (aka solution team). This team, composed of a strong representation of influential employees from numerous departments, is assembled to be the driving force behind the solution selection. With the combination of the solution team and sponsorship from the executive leadership team, traditional change management issues are largely mitigated.
For the solution team, developing a successful change management approach entails adherence to the six foundational aspects of an effective change strategy:
- Map Current Processes – Before the search process even begins, first map, and document, the organization’s business processes. This process mapping effort will provide a good initial understanding of the current processes at work in the organization. Many businesses overlook this step and jump right into the search and selection process. It is critical for the selection team to have a strong, cross-functional understanding of the existing core processes before moving forward.
- Identify Process Strengths & Weaknesses – Using the process map, conduct a full examination – a SWOT analysis is a great tool for this effort – of the organization’s current business processes to determine which are effective, and which are falling short of expectations. Any weaknesses uncovered are often a sign of functional gaps in the current CRM solution, and should be addressed in the new system.
- Determine Objectives – The new solution has to function in alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives. Anticipate how the new solution will meet these goals and what efficiencies the new solution will enable not only today but well into the future.
- Define Ideal Process – With your SWOT analysis of your current processes and your strategic objectives identified, you are now positioned to define your “Ideal Process”. This is an opportunity to make major business improvements where inefficiencies can be resolved, operational costs streamlined and processes redesigned for greater productivity. It is also an opportunity to involve the organization’s employees. The individuals who are most familiar with a particular process are most likely to understand how best to streamline that process with the help of a new system. Not to mention, involving employees in the planning and decision-making process goes a long way when it comes to employee buy-in.
- Select the Right Solutions – With a firm understanding of the processes, objectives, and needs of employees, explore the variety of solutions and select the one that meets the specific needs of the organization. The most important factors to look for are long-term benefits, functionality, flexibility, and risk management.
- Properly Align Solution – Ensure the new solution aligns with all of the ongoing needs and organizational requirements. Make sure your strategy includes a plan for regular review and improvement. Be sure that the solution provider has a road map that will continually evolve to support your business and related industry needs for the foreseeable future.
While these pillars are critical for success, the true key to successfully navigating the obstacles of change management is communication. To effectively institute a change management strategy, the discoveries made while evaluating the six foundational areas should be communicated to the organization. Transparency is invaluable to change management and is equally invaluable to ensuring employee buy-in.
Employee & Business Buy-In
More often than not, when it comes to new technical solutions, the changes executed are imposed on the employees and various business areas of the organization rather than following a process that includes them. This organizational oversight can be devastating to ongoing change management and present problems for effective implementation. Employee buy-in, participation, and acceptance are absolutely crucial for successful organizational change to take place. It doesn’t matter how effective a change management strategy is, without an equally effective strategy for obtaining employee and business buy-in, a new solution implementation can fall victim to staunch employee resistance. Employee and business function adoption will ensure success. Besides,
To avoid the challenges of employee buy-in when implementing a new technical solution, it is critical to engage the entire staff of the organization – from upper management down to the most entry-level employees. Engaging employees and securing employee buy-in can be achieved with a three-step process:
- Communicate – The key to successfully obtaining employee buy-in is through constant, ongoing communication. With open channels of communication, employees feel like they’re being included in the process. Make them feel heard, interact with them, and answer their questions. Few things feel worse for an employee than being left in the dark.
- Set Expectations – Set expectations and share the organization’s goals and milestones for the implementation. If the employees know what leadership expects of them and the outcomes of the implementation, it’s much easier for them to understand how they fit into the process as a whole. It’s also important to let the employees know they’re not expected to just “get” the new system. With anything new, there’s always a learning curve so make sure “Training” is a key message point of your regular communications.
- Address Fears – Fear is often the most overlooked and misunderstood factor in gaining employee buy-in. When it comes to an organization-wide change like new system implementation, many employees resist the change out of fear. The fear of the unknown is a powerful and dangerous force. As always, communicate with them and reassure them the system change is not about layoffs and it’s not about complicating old processes with “new technology.” Reassuring them the implementation is about creating a better place to work, creating more opportunity, and creating an environment where they can better serve their clients.
Partner (Solution) Selection
Last but not least is the company you choose to partner with, which will greatly influence the success of the system being implemented. Make no mistake about it, you are making a strategic decision that will shape your business for years to come, it is critical that the solution partner selected understands the aforementioned change management process but can assist you and your business in managing this change as well as implementing the solution you need. Select a provider that can demonstrate:
- Industry Expertise – The provider should have a deep understanding of the industry(s) you serve and the challenges and evolutionary pressures that are present or will be impacting your business. Too many companies operate with an understanding of the surface level of the business but do not really have a deep understanding of your business or industry. The partner should not only be experts in the technical solution but also the business best practices and methods that others in the industry are using to be successful.
- Collaborative Approach – Ensure that the partner is willing to work collaboratively and the implementation fits your business needs and provides you with the flexibility to better serve your customers and run your business more efficiently. Your partner should care as much about your success as you do and be willing and capable to adopt customize solutions or strategies specific to your business.
- Bridging the Gap – A true partner, focused on enabling your success, will work with you to ensure a smooth migration from your current solution to the new solution. This is more than just the technical configuration, training, and data migration but also includes helping minimize or eliminating the financial burden and pain of such a change. After-all, this change is a strategic decision for you and your business, it should also be an unwavering strategic decision by your solution partner to commit to providing a high level of service to you and your business.
By effectively communicating with employees, setting expectations, addressing fears/concerns, earning employee buy-in, and having a skilled, knowledgeable partner to minimize the pain of change, such technology-oriented evolutionary decisions become a much more manageable and smooth process that will enable your business to achieve a greater level of success.
With sound strategies in place around change management and strategic partner selection, the organizational obstacles to implementing and adopting new technical solutions disappear. Fear will always play a role in any system implementation, but when combined with a strong partner, a unified leadership team and the right solution partner can alleviate all of your fears.
New CRM system implementations are a substantial undertaking and don’t have to be managed alone. If you know it is time to reassess your CRM solution but the process feels daunting, or change management and employee buy-in seem out of reach, consider utilizing the experienced team from Debt Pay Pro. We can relieve the pressure of the implementation and make the entire process feel seamless.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate this process.