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Are Adoption-Focused Features Driving CRM Success?

Low user adoption is often cited as a top reason why CRM projects are failing. This isn’t anything new; low user adoption has been referenced as a top reason why CRM projects fail for over a decade. In response to this, CRM vendors have added in new features such as gamification, visualizations, and adoption dashboards designed to help increase user adoption. However, while these new adoption-focused features are helping, they might also be creating confusion for CRM buyers and exacerbating the CRM adoption challenge. You can have all the adoption-focused bells and whistles in the world, but without truly thinking through the change impact on end users, your CRM project may still experience adoption challenges.
This is a topic I have written and spoken about on several occasions over the past decade. While nearly everyone agrees an organizational change management plan is integral to a successful CRM project, I still often hear about CRM projects where the change management role and plan were cut from the project, leading to a less than optimal CRM deployment.
As enterprise clients migrate their CRM solutions to the cloud, user adoption becomes critical to a CRM product vendor’s success. In contrast to the perpetual licensing model where the client is stuck with the sunk cost of a CRM license, nowadays, if users don’t quickly adopt the solution, clients simply don’t renew their cloud CRM subscription. In response, CRM product vendors have added many new bright shiny objects to their products in an attempt to address the CRM adoption dilemma.
Let me first say that these adoption features are much welcomed. I have seen the positive impacts that adoption-focused features have on the end user’s CRM experience when they are thoughtfully designed and deployed ‒ “thoughtfully” being the key word, meaning that an organizational change management plan was an integral part of the project, the technology was a part of the plan rather than the plan, leading to higher adoption rates, and thus a more successful CRM project. Unfortunately, I have also seen the negative consequence of these features, when project decision makers use a CRM vendor’s sales pitch or literature to justify cutting the organizational change management plan and role from the project.
This is why I feel adoption-focused features might be making the CRM adoption issue worse. Cloud-based solutions have helped reduce the cost of a typical CRM project. In theory, this should make budget less of an obstacle to including change management in the project plan. However, CRM project decision makers now see the adoption-focused CRM product features they were sold during the product demos and sales pitches as a new form of justification for reducing the change management role. Change management will always be a key to the CRM project’s success, with or without sparkly ballyhooed product features.
At Perficient, our mission is to help our clients successfully plan, deploy, and manage Dynamics 365 to fuel their Digital Transformation. Helping our clients weigh their options and making recommendations on key decisions such as organizational change management is fundamental to that mission. Thus, User Adoption sits at the heart of the services we offer for Microsoft Dynamics 365.

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Brad Beumer, Director, Microsoft Dynamics 365

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