A Tale of Two Companies (With Apologies to Charles Dickens)

 

It was the largest of enterprises; it was the smallest of enterprises. What both companies had in common was the desire to implement a Salesforce CRM solution. However, each company chose a different approach to rollout the new CRM solution.

XYZ Company chose to use the “all or nothing” approach. The company committed to the new CRM system, engaged a vendor and then waited. In the meantime, business at XYZ went on as usual. During this time, employees received nothing that would make their jobs easier.

When the big day arrived, the entire solution was rolled out — complete with new ways of handling tasks, new screens to learn and new functionality. Employees had a lot of ground to cover before they could put the new system to use. Overtime increased and morale decreased. When employees realized that the company expected them to try to force the new system to work under the same policies and processes that had previously been in place, they became even more dispirited. They quickly abandoned the new system and reverted to their old “work-around” methods just to do their jobs. Once more, data became compartmentalized and inaccessible, and the company’s hope of finally bringing sales and marketing into alignment died, and several other goals also went unrealized.

However, 123 Company chose an iterative approach to deploying their CRM system. The company broke the deployment into small pieces that could be implemented quickly. Employees had the opportunity to learn each step before moving to the next, and they had new tools to give them some much-needed help immediately.

During the iterations, certain issues were identified, such as some business processes or policies that needed to be altered if the new CRM system was to provide maximum ROI. The company adjusted most of the policies and processes, but there were some that simply could not be changed. Fortunately, it was possible to include features during the next iteration that addressed the challenges. By the time the final iteration was completed, employees had a fully functional CRM system that they had learned to use to its full potential — but in increments. Morale soared and productivity increased. It was a far, far better thing that 123 Company did than XYZ Company had ever done.

The moral of this story is that when rolling out a new CRM system, the iterative approach offers some important advantages.

  1. Improved user adoption: When IT professionals prepare their lists of most software deployments fail, a lack of user adoption appears on most. Simply put, if users are not comfortable with the new software, feel overwhelmed by its complexity or are expected to learn too much in too short a time, they will shun the new program. They will quickly revert to their old methods and resent any attempts to force them to use the new software. On the other hand, if they receive training in smaller “doses” and have the opportunity to learn one important feature before moving to the next, they feel more comfortable and are more likely to embrace the new software.
  2. Quick wins: A new CRM system is intended to add value to a business. When money is tied while waiting for an all-in-one deployment, no return on investment is being realized. Employees are not gaining any benefit, either. With an iterative approach, deployment can be scheduled to prioritize features that allow the business to benefit from the solution much more rapidly.
  3. Easier adjustments: In a perfect world, all companies know exactly what is needed in a new CRM system, have the ability to convey those needs in detail to a technology partner and never encounter disruptions that alter those needs. This scenario rarely happens in the “real” world. For example, decision makers might fail to understand that Salesforce is far more than just a database for storing contact information, or they not realize how critical a certain feature might be to the marketing department until a software is deployed without it. Management might overlook a desired function while rushing to prepare specifications. New government regulations or changes in corporate policy may require adjustments prior to deployment. With the iterative approach, issues such as these can be addressed in future iterations without the need to “reinvent the wheel.”

In conclusion, the iterative approach is the most logical method for deploying a CRM system. By dividing the rollout into smaller phases, employees have a better opportunity to learn to use the new system to its maximum potential. In addition, the company begins to see benefits much sooner.

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