Prior to joining Catapult Systems, I worked with a municipality supporting their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) business case development process. The municipality was considering various options such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Oracle. The project was going quite well as all the ingredients for success were in place, including:
- Strong executive sponsorship,
- A committed project manager, and
- A sound adoption and change management (ACM) strategy led by a seasoned change management veteran.
During the course of the project the adoption and change management (ACM) executive sponsor needed to step aside as other competing priorities were consuming her time. This was a critical moment for our project and we realized that a smooth transition would be needed. The project manager and I provided the executive sponsor a list of potential candidates we thought would be qualified replacements for her. Unfortunately, she selected someone who was not on our list, but was very loyal to her. Though the new executive sponsor was very competent, he was not very committed to ACM, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project or understood the case management functionality, similar to Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) (https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/), that needed to be deployed.
One of the first steps the new sponsor did was to put in place his own team, including a new project manager who was not very experienced with CRM or case management. In addition, the ACM lead was marginalized and was no longer invited to project team meetings. Though I counseled the new executive sponsor about the benefits of ACM, he decided to plow forward with his own approach. That included utilizing me in an advisory role for the CRM project instead using me for providing hands-on tactical support. Unfortunately, the following issues arose:
- Managers and staff were unwilling to devote sufficient resources to the CRM project because the executive sponsor and new project manager did not provide adequate direction about their new roles and did not continue utilizing the ACM communications plan that had been developed
- The uncertainty of the CRM project team roles and the overall project direction led to the development of negative messages about the project that went unchecked by the project team
- Some project team members that remained on the team lost interest in their work because they were no longer receiving the positive feedback that the ACM team fostered
- Valued employees voluntarily left the team because they felt disengaged
- Several leaders of the pilot departments shifted their priorities because they viewed the transition as an indication that the CRM project was no longer mission critical – behavior that went unimpeded by the new CRM project team
Surveys by two of the leading research organizations including Gartner Group and Prosci confirmed the above problems. They found that in nearly all the cases where an enterprise-wide CRM software deployment did not meet the specified objectives (budget, timetable, efficiencies, cost savings, etc.), it was related to issues managing the impact of adoption and change on the employee and the incumbent processes. Very rarely was the issue the CRM technology. If they could do the project again, the respondents indicated that:
“A more intensive and planned change management approach always is at or near the top of the list.”
So back to the client. What happened? They eventually selected a CRM vendor and are currently implementing their case management system. However they exceeded their initial budget and blew the timetable. In addition, they let the CRM vendor drive the requirements, not the municipal employees. These factors led the executive sponsor to reconsider the impact of ACM, and he got the ACM lead re-engaged in the project. The ACM lead is focused on educating the staff about the overall project plan and identifying the process efficiencies the CRM software could generate. The ACM lead has helped re-energize the project team.
At Quisitive, we understand the value of ACM and integrate it into all our CRM and case management projects.
Let me close with the following questions:
1 – Does this situation sound familiar (been there, done that)?
2 – How would you have handled the ACM strategy differently?