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Poor user adoption is not a new phenomenon for CRM. Though adoption rates have improved over the years with the emergence of SaaS and increasing emphasis on user experience by CRM vendors, according to a 2011 report by CSO Insights, only 38 percent of the Small and Medium Businesses have achieved 75 percent+ CRM adoption rates.

In this three part series, we will explore the key factors behind user adoption.

Part I – Before you get ready to rollout CRM – plan, plan, and plan some more

Define what CRM means for your company:  Every organization’s definition of CRM is different. Before you begin to look at technologies and CRM vendors, define your CRM goals and review your existing customer facing processes. Involve all your key departments – IT, sales, marketing, support, and finance – to standardize and streamline your processes.

You should also define the success criteria and metrics in terms of user adoption, expected business results, and ROI (Return on Investment).  At the end of this exercise, you should have a clear idea on how CRM will support your business strategy.

Plan your rollouts in phases: Plan your CRM rollouts in phases so that your users get to experience CRM in bite-sized pieces. Start with your sales or support department. Make sure your super users and users are on board and their expectations are clearly defined and measurable. Plan to start with a pilot rollout containing a minimum feature set.

Decide who will own CRM: Specify a department that will “own” CRM. Do this in collaboration with your key departments. In many organizations, the process of selecting a CRM is owned by IT.  However, many successful CRM rollouts show us that end user groups like sales or marketing is more adept in owning this process.

Elect a CRM champion: Elect a “champion” from the department that will own CRM. Give the champion overall accountability to drive user adoption and evangelize CRM within the organization.

Identify administrators and super users: Select administrators and “super users” from key departments who will represent their departments during the rollout and build a consensus around CRM within the department. Make sure the super users have sufficient influence to represent their departments.

Involve your executives: Get your executives to commit to CRM around a common set of goals and objectives and a mutually agreed upon timeline.

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