An organization doesn't realize ROI on its technology unless people are actually using the system to drive business results. Together, we can design the most innovative products. But unless we actually get people using them, they have no value. 

As a consultant who’s done over 30 implementations since 2007, I’ve discovered four ways to accelerate your adoption. When I start a CRM implementation, I focus on four key areas:


Get Everybody Talking the Same Language

Words have different meanings to different stakeholders. Words like lead, prospect, implement, capture, and fulfill.

For example, a “lead” might just be a name and an email address for the marketing team. But from a sales point of view, that same word describes a qualified lead, and there's a big difference. Before you architect the system, make sure you understand that the same words can mean different things to different groups.


The Agile Mindset

The agile mindset is based in two fundamental principles:

1: Begin with a clear goal in mind- also called a “to be state”

2: Reaching your goals is an iterative (step-by-step) process.

If what you want is to re-create what you already have -- but in a different system -- then you have already stifled innovation. The agile mindset requires that we don’t look initially at placing a form or a field at a particular place. We move towards goals with flexibility, and take it one step at a time.

“Fail cheaply” is an important part of the agile mindset. You build something or create a mock-up, then test it against a group of users.  You can quickly and inexpensively make changes if your initial concept is not what you need. Once you discover you are on the right track, you can direct resources to make more detailed progress.

From the agile mindset, the folks that live with the system begin to wonder, "Could we do... this? Could we bring that together in a report, and we could see that information in one place?" 


Embrace the Trade-offs

Complexity has to live somewhere —  in the technology,  the business process alignment, or with the user. Each has a cost. We concentrate on process and system, to relieve the complexities for the end user.

Clicks are complexity.  To decrease clicks, the complexity must live within the system. Further workflow automation is the key. Embrace system complexity, when it reduces user complexity and helps business process alignment. 


Adoption is About People

People generally follow what they see. If leaders won’t change, why would anyone else?

In one particular implementation, things were going very slowly, until the key business leader came in and started validating decisions. The input of the key stakeholder accelerated the work, and we accomplished more in two hours than we had in two days.

Adoption in the user base can also improve when someone is specifically acknowledged for their input. By recognizing and actively encouraging that individual, everyone within the team is driven to respond - by entering information, providing feedback, and more. Creating everyday heroes will drive a significant level of adoption. 

But adoption starts at the top. Transparency means your product owner can’t tell everyone that everything’s fine, when it isn’t. When companies  look to minimize — or even ignore — any level of change management, it can have a real impact on the overall adoption of the system.

Leaders must sell the system to end users in the same way that a product company would sell a product to customers. Who are the right people to sponsor and drive your adoption? It might be you. Or your CIO, or your sales director. Or maybe all three. These key sponsors have the authority to get the right people in the room, and they also frame the workshop. They set a vision of what you're trying to achieve. The adoption conversation starts when leaders share (through their words and actions) what really matters to the organization. 

This post was originally posted on the Executive Insights Exchange.

About the Author

Kerry Townsend is a consultant at Accenture.  She has been implementing Salesforce for over 10 years. Kerry has been been a user, admin, and IT executive. Now, as a consultant for one of the large global systems integrators, she works with companies to smooth out the bumps along  the adoption journey. Follow her on twitter @kerrytownsend