How to sustain high CRM User Adoption


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We have found that the best way for organizations to “boost” and then “sustain” high CRM user adoption is to develop and implement a comprehensive user adoption strategy. Most CRM failures occur when organizations take a Go-Live centric approach to CRM (on-time & on-budget delivery of technology) without taking the necessary actions to drive and sustain user adoption over the life of the system.

It is important to recognize that user adoption is all about changing user behaviors; it is not about technology. The skills and methods you use to change behavior are very different than those required to build and deliver effective CRM systems. This means that the people who lead and manage your CRM system implementation may not be (and probably are not) the right people to lead the user adoption program.


Here are some (though not all) key elements of a CRM user adoption program:

1. ASSIGN OWNERSHIP FOR CRM ADOPTION – Give a senior executive overall accountability, authority, and required resources to drive and sustain CRM adoption. Make this a meaningful portion of the executive’s performance & bonus criteria to ensure they are properly motivated to put in the time and resources required to make the CRM project a success.

2. DEFINE CRM SUCCESS – Define success in terms of user adoption, business value creation, and ROI. Determine specific CRM success measures (quantitative and qualitative) and align all employees’ performance management plans (and rewards) to these goals.

3. ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSIS – Conduct a comprehensive analysis of your organization to identify all of the key factors that encourage or inhibit CRM adoption. This includes looking at policies, processes, reward systems, communication activities, job descriptions, leadership, and existing user attitudes and behaviors. Use this information to shape your overall CRM adoption strategy.

4. SHIFT FROM “USER RESISTANCE” TO “REMOVE BARRIERS” – Make clear distinctions between instances of user resistance vs. organizational barriers that prevent adoption. Many people fall in the trap of “blaming the users” for not adopting CRM when often times there are organizational barriers – that fall outside of the users’ control – that prevent users from adopting the CRM system.

5. FACILITATE ADOPTION – Take specific actions before, during, and after go-live to facilitate full and effective user adoption. Communications and training are necessary, but not even close to sufficient, for driving effective user adoption. (This is an example where you may need a different skill set to drive adoption. If you are not sure what else you need to do to “facilitate adoption” this may mean that you do not have the right skills and/or right methodology for driving user adoption. You may want to consultant an outside user adoption expert for help.)

6. MEASURE & EVOLVE – Measure user adoption at regularly scheduled intervals, update CRM adoption goals, identify specific CRM adoption activities to be completed, and adjust your CRM adoption program as necessary to ensure your CRM system is meeting current and future ROI goals.


Implementing an effective CRM adoption program is not easy and it does take time, resources, and User Adoption expertise. Nonetheless, with a commonly reported CRM failure rate near 70%, it is clear that organizations need to take action to protect their CRM investments. In the future, you will find more organizations implementing comprehensive CRM user adoption programs as part of all CRM initiatives.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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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