In a previous life, I was a late addition to the project team of a $40,000,000 ERP implementation. It was my first EPR implementation and they were weeks away from go-live at their first of many manufacturing plants across the country. The project team spotted a hole in their deployment plan and brought me in to fill the void. My role was to support the go-live in the warehouse in the days before and weeks after go-live, facilitating the shipping and receiving functions of the plant. I was told the people in the department were trained, the new hand-held scanning technology was in place, and the cutover to the new ERP system should proceed smoothly.
We went live on the new system, and the people in the warehouse looked at me for direction on what they should be doing. While they had been trained on how to “use” the new system to create and edit records, and other basic features of the EPR platform, no one had trained them on their core daily functions of shipping and receiving using the new system. Very quickly there were dozens of trailers to be loaded, more to be unloaded, and new shipments scheduled based on the upcoming production schedule. I walked into a buzz-saw of deployment and learned a lesson that has become core to how Empellor supports EPR implementations of Dynamics CRM.
For users of new technology to be effective at utilizing the technology to do their jobs, there have to be clearly defined processes. Ideally, these processes are built upon best practices. Prior to the deployment, the users have to be trained using those processes while using the new technology. Finally, each user must past tests demonstrating they are able to execute the processes effectively. It sounds simple, but can be very difficult for companies that have experienced rapid growth, changes in management, or have never taken the time to document their core processes or define best practices.
Clearly defined processes and proper training are just the beginning of a successful implementation of CRM. You have to get users to buy into using the new system. It’s critical that the CRM makes it easier to perform tasks, solve problems they currently experience and provides access to critical information quickly and easily. Sometimes, even if you achieve all of these goals with your implementation, you will experience pockets of resistance. When that occurs, it’s up to senior management to address the problem. I have had clients tie compensation plans to use of the system, others issue decrees from the CEO that the system will be used as expected. You have to decide what works best for your situation and culture, but don’t wait for problems to fester before addressing them.
Ongoing training in best practices using Dynamics CRM is another critical component to driving user adoption. Many of your users will be overwhelmed when they start using it, regardless of how much training they attended. Post-go-live, we recommend that each user of the system is contacted personally and given the opportunity to ask questions, receive personal attention, and possibly schedule additional follow-up training. This initial contact should occur within three to five days post-go-live, and be repeated at thirty to forty days post-go-live. The initial contact is to help users achieve a level of comfort they can use CRM, and follow-up comfort ensures the have not hit any major roadblocks and the momentum of the initial deployment is maintained moving forward.
The long-term success of the EPR implementation and full adoption by users requires a formal feedback mechanism to be established so ideas for enhancements are surfaced quickly, vetted and prioritized for future releases. Users must feel that have a legitimate voice and ability to contribute to improving processes and the technology they utilize to perform their jobs. We recommend periodic user meetings or training sessions or webinars where a portion of the agenda is reserved for a discussion on how the processes and CRM can be improved.