Avoid Transition Agony

Failure to change often leads to failure in the process. Even though the tried and true offers peace of mind and avoids problems, when it comes to CRM, it is crucial that switches or updates be made from time to time. There are various reasons this may be considered important, among them the need to keep up with the firm's growth or to improve the present CRM system.

Following are some suggestions to help make the transition between CRM systems a bit easier.

1. Ask questions to clarify the current situation and forecast the new one. Take the time to evaluate the current situation and see how it is working. Think about what aspects may need to be changed, and how they will help to improve the system afterward. Set goals that the new system will have to meet, and try to figure out how much it will cost and what the various implications may be. You may find that it is better to discuss the matter with your current service provider, as it may be more feasible to retain the same one and make amendments to your current system than to start from scratch.

2. Study the gaps and establish what you need. Make sure to evaluate carefully the gaps between what your current system provides and what the new one should incorporate. This will help you set out the new objectives and features. Take the time to consider the people or departments in your firm that such changes will impact. Set up meetings to address these issues with them.

3. Work on user acceptance. Change may be regarded as difficult and frightening. You need to ensure that system users will be helped to accept the transition and see the benefits that will arise from it. Resistance to change is common, but you need to learn to tackle it properly. Find some people who are open to change, and use their enthusiasm to affect others positively. They could also help you outsource potential CRM providers and will play a critical role in the endorsement of the new system's potential.

4. Offer step-by-step instruction. Users will have gotten used to the present CRM system, and they will have developed their own habits while using it. Keep this in mind when customizing the new system to make the transition process a bit easier for them to get used to.

Recent technologies help employees get used to new systems by breaking tasks down into short, step-by-step actions. These help employees avoid errors through even the most complex processes. This removes the barriers of entry for employees using other CRM systems by easing employees' agony over changes in their daily routine, and decreases the learning curve.

5. Test and focus. For a successful CRM system transition, communication is imperative. Besides testing the new system, you should try to focus on the actual changes, and how they have been introduced within the new system.

At face value, transitioning to a new or updated CRM system may seem like a technical and highly complicated process. But if you focus on the people and are prepared to face their reactions and expectations properly, you will be able to make the transition process an absolute success.

Omri Erel is the marketing director at WalkMe, an interactive Web site guidance system. He is also the lead author and editor of the blog Saas Addict.

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