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10 Change Management Tips for CRM Success

Focus On the People Not Just the System

When implementing a new system such as Salesforce, regardless of an organization’s project management methodology (waterfall, agile or a hybrid), the approach is usually taken with the “lets get it done, can do” attitude. While this approach is helpful in completing the project on time and on budget, it can lend itself to a tunnel vision, system focused implementation: Design > Build > Train > Launch. Unfortunately, the often forgotten component is Change Management.

What I am referring to is not Change Management from the system and change control perspective but from the end-user “Human” perspective. As we all know, a successful Salesforce roll-out isn’t defined by project completion, success is defined by end-user adoption. The key to adoption is the “human” aspect of Change Management. Change Management should not be an afterthought, it should be at the forefront and the longest phase of a project that starts during the planning and continues through post-launch.

10 Tips to Change Management Success:

  1. Identify an Owner/Responsible Person: Depending on the size of the project and number of impacted teams, it could require a dedicated resource. The role of this person is to be the Project Manager of Change Management.
  2. Assemble a Change Management Team: This should include upper management, a representative from impacted groups, a training resource and most importantly end-users who will act as the change champions. In addition to assembling the team, ensure to meet on a regular basis to discuss any issues, open items, next steps and to ensure the team has a pulse on how things are progressing outside of the project team.
  3. Call on Past Experience: Document pitfalls and successes during a previous system or process change rollouts. Nothing has more value than lessons learned. Organizations, especially end-users have a long memory when it comes to previous process changes. Avoiding previous pitfalls will prevent users from having the “here we go again” mentality.
  4. Project Kick-off with End-users: Normal project kick-offs usually include key business stakeholders and the core project team. What is just as important is having a kick-off with the end-users. This kick-off will give you the opportunity to announce what change is coming, why you are making the change, impact of the change, and most importantly, how the change will benefit them. This will help build excitement, alignment and engagement as well as give the audience time to communicate any concerns early on.
  5. Develop a Communication Plan with a Regular Cadence: Depending on the size and impact of a project, you may need different plans for different audiences. For example: There could be an organization-wide status update that only includes high-level timeline/road map with key accomplishments since the last communication and a separate communication to stakeholders. The most important communication is to the end-users and all teams that are impacted by the change. This end-user communication should come at regular intervals and give more detail in regards to project status, the feature road map, accomplishments, key dates and expected launch date.
  6. Include End-users Throughout the Project: Give end-users a forum to ask questions, provide feedback and invite them to system demonstrations. These will help keep them engaged and reinforce that they are a part of driving the change and not just affected by it.
  7. Provide Resource Materials: Salesforce could be new to many of the affected people and not knowing a system could lead to fear of change. To avoid this fear of not knowing, give people the resources and time to review them to build confidence. These resources could be as simple as quick reference guides so users can familiarize themselves with the terminology, links to existing Salesforce materials, or be as elaborate as a demo org where they can get hands-on and become familiar with the UI.
  8. Open and Honest Communication: Do not hide information when it comes to project delays or possible negative impact. Finding out a day before the anticipated launch date that it has been pushed another month could be deflating to morale. Even worse is finding out the day of launch that a formally automated process will now be manual.
  9. Publish the Training Plan Early: As part of regular communication, include training dates and format.  This will allow users to mentally prepare, plan their work to avoid scheduling conflicts, and give them time to complete any pre-training tasks or resource reviews.
  10. Develop and Communicate a Launch and Post Launch Support Plan: As the launch dates approach it is likely that anxiety is growing.  What helps alleviate some anxiety and build confidence is to know end-users have support. With that in mind, develop a plan that lets them know how they will be supported if they have a questions, encounter any issues, how they can report the issues, and give them visibility to how those issues will be addressed.

There is no blanket approach for Change Management success since things need to scale up and down based on organizational needs. However, I do hope this post and these tips will get the necessary conversations started and keep the human aspect of Change Management in the forefront of any of your Salesforce projects.

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Allan Franco

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