Avoid CRM failure! Include User Adoption in the business case & maximize ROI


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This post is based on a previous blog entry on the Tri Tuns blog title, " The Business Case & User Adoption

For major CRM projects, many organizations require a formal business case in order to get funding and approval for the project. The business case typically covers an explanation of the technology, expected changes to the business, the total cost of ownership (TCO) and the expected Return on Investment (ROI). Despite all these efforts to make sure you are making a wise investment, many completed projects fail to realize the anticipated level of benefits and ROI. Why? Because most IT systems don&’t actually get used sufficiently to deliver the value you expect.

One major cause for this is that most business cases assume 100% user adoption and ignore the impact low levels of adoption have on ROI. As you know, benefits are only realized if your people actually use the system consistently and effectively. Unless you currently have full and effective adoption of your existing systems, it is naive to think that you will achieve 100% adoption of your new systems.

To account for less than perfect user adoption, you need to examine how different adoption levels affect your business case.  If you find that the projected ROI no longer makes sense you can either scrap the project or determine what additional resources and effort are required to increase adoption to the point that it will deliver an acceptable ROI. Require that all business cases include a weighting factor for anticipated level of user adoption. Consider the impact that low, average, and high levels of user adoption have on your anticipated TCO, ROI, and level of benefits realization when approving IT projects.


  • What levels of user adoption do you have with your existing systems? Why would you expect different adoption levels with your new system?
  • Have you included funding and resources to drive and maintain user adoption after go-live? If not, what resources will you need to achieve required levels of adoption? What does including these resources in your business case do for your TCO and ROI forecasts?
  • If you could increase user adoption of your existing systems & processes such that you get more value from your current technology, would you still want to move forward with the new project? What can you do increase adoption of existing technology?


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Jason Whitehead
Jason Whitehead is CEO of Tri Tuns, LLC, an organizational effectiveness consultancy specializing in driving and sustaining effective user adoption of IT systems. He works at the intersection of technology, process, culture and people to help clients actually achieved measurable business benefits from their technology investments.


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