My Salesforce.com consulting work with teams continually reveals more challenge in the adoption of a well-designed system than in the actual customization of the system. Aligning people who have become accustomed to their way of doing things with disparate tools or ad hoc methods requires a focus on the art of change management. Here are three pieces to the puzzle for success which must be part of your adoption strategy.
Identify A Strong Internal Champion
By nature, insiders have more vested in the outcomes of a new system than outsiders. Furthermore, there are numerous cultural issues which every organization has. Culture is the glue which allows for getting things done in a complex environment. It is a great asset.
You must have a strong champion that aligns with the organization and knows how to influence for change. Furthermore, the champion is the one that must master Salesforce.com with the processes built into the organization’s implementation. They have to be technical and business minded to overcome objections and communicate benefits. Their guidance becomes important for how fast and how much to change during the course of training, support and requirements gathering.
Develop A Mantra Which Sticks
Mantras are powerful shorthand for focusing action. A mantra sticks in the minds of people. Instructions and authoritarian policies on the other hand create resistance and do not connect emotionally.
Our mantra with users is, “If it’s not in Salesforce.com, it did not happen!” Salesforce.com is not a magic bullet in and of itself to solve business process issues. It is the culture and habits of the team using Salesforce.com. Thus, capturing every task, communication and field item creates the inherent value to the organization. Without commitment to the system, it becomes nothing more than a glorified database. Ensure your organization has a mantra which can be stated between people at meetings and at the water cooler easily. It helps drive enthusiasm and adoption.
Create A Support Outlet
There should be a framework for how a business process is executed in the Salesforce.com implementation and customization. However, there are always specific scenarios that need answers quickly and precisely for users. Forward momentum needs to be maintained and a great way to do this is to provide a responsive support process. This can be done with FAQ’s via a wiki, Salesforce.com Case management, or a variety of integrated tools which help to build a knowledge base.
Over time, facilitate knowledge sharing by pointing users continually to this resource and have them self-moderate. This helps the organization to own the system they are vested in.
Salesforce.com Adoption Is A Challenging Road
We are creatures of habit. If a person is determined not to change, there is little any person can do to thwart such a strong position of resistance. Users want to have easier ways of doing things. A well-designed system should provide the context for work to get done faster and more productively. The adoption phase should focus on helping with the emotional resistance to change. Strong leadership, a focused mantra and responsive support are three ingredients to drive success.
If you would like to learn more about what I am talking about, check out how I consult with organizations on Salesforce.com.
Feel free to comment on areas you have seen in change management and how you have seen these in action below.