CRM User Adoption

By - February 22, 2012

A few years ago, I performed a CRM assessment for a company that was using Dynamics CRM 4.0 (implemented by a different company) and the main issue they had was with user adoption. The company was implementing Dynamics CRM strictly for relationship management. The themes addressed in the assessment are as relevant today as they were back then and I think user adoption is still the number one reason as to why Dynamics CRM implementations go awry.

One reason I believe RSM has been so successful in implementing Dynamics CRM over the years is that we keep these tenets at the forefront during all phases of a Dynamics CRM implementation. Having spent several years implementing ERP systems, I think it’s useful to point out  two of the many differences between CRM and ERP which help explain why CRM implementations, in particular, struggle with user adoption issues.

  • Existing ERP processes tend to be consistent, well established and follow defined standards or regulations (e.g. FASB, GAAP, SOX). CRM processes, such as Marketing, Sales and Service tend to be constantly changing, dependent on individual experiences and can be ad hoc and/or undefined.
  • ERP processes, in general, are very difficult to perform without a system. CRM processes such as Sales can still be done effectively (in other words, you can be a great salesperson) without using a system or having any automated processes.

I’ve provided excerpts from the assessment below, related specifically to the areas of user adoption. If you are interested in more detail on this subject, please contact our professionals at or by phone at 855.437.7202.

Purpose of Assessment

The first issue driving the need for this assessment involves user adoption issues. Unfortunately, this has led directly to what is characterized as an “incomplete” implementation of Dynamics CRM at Company X. The symptoms and results of this underlying issue can be characterized as the following:

  • Issues with data integrity – Relationship information residing within Dynamics CRM has become stale, in some cases, useless and duplicate information still resides in the system
  • Valuable organizational relationship information continues to be stored in “silos” across the organization (i.e. personal Outlook contacts, Excel spreadsheets, business cards and paper)
  • Employees and management are not leveraging the system to get the benefits of:
    • Process automation
    • Single, central repository for managing organizational relationships and 3) to get a “360 degree” view of organizational relationships
  • Touch points with individuals and Organizations are minimal or missed completely
  • Existing Relationships not being leveraged across the organization

This has also perpetuated a risk that was identified in the business requirements and was a driving reason for Company X to implement Dynamics CRM in the first place: When an employee leaves Company X, particularly relationship builders, there is a risk that the key relationship information known by the individual will be devalued or lost completely within the organization.

Executive Summary

User adoption issues are not easily overcome by just fixing technical issues. Users already have a “bad taste in their mouth” due to having been disappointed by the first rollout so there are perception hurdles that have to be overcome. The path forward should be taken with careful consideration to avoid a repeat of disappointments and to insure we focus resources on providing the most benefit to the end users and management. Our recommendations will focus on these main areas:

  • Providing recommendations and alternatives to address the identified Dynamics CRM issues and pain points
  • Aligning the system so that users that are responsible for entering and managing Dynamics CRM information can work more like they do in their daily work environment
  • Providing insightful data out of the system to management and executives

The term “user adoption” is somewhat vague, so we will drill into the specific causes we’ve identified, as well as, provide specific solutions to get the Dynamics CRM implementation at Company X back on solid footing. In addition, we provide long term incremental recommendations to insure Dynamics CRM can assist Company X to meet the original vision to not just manage and view the Company X relationships, but to also help leverage and give insight into this most valuable asset at Company X .

Observations and Recommendations

What we anticipateAt Company X, we would expect that all users are utilizing Dynamics CRM in the course of daily activities. In particular, we would expect users to leverage Dynamics CRM in the areas of individual and organization relationship development. This can be as simple as using Dynamics CRM to lookup a current phone number for an individual that needs to be contacted.

  1. We would expect users to be updating CRM anytime new individuals or organizations come into the Company X sphere of influence.
  2. We would expect users to update Dynamics CRM anytime users become aware of changes to existing individuals or organizations. This can include contact details, like a phone number, relationships, like they now work for x company, to events attended, money given to a particular cause or activities that Company X has had with an individual, such as “called John to see if he will attend our upcoming sponsor event”.
  3. In general, because of the importance of Company X’s relationships, we would expect most users to have Dynamics CRM open throughout the day and that Dynamics CRM is integral part of most users’ daily activities.


Based on our experience, there are various reasons we see user adoption problems with Dynamics CRM implementations. Below are some of the top reasons and these may be interrelated:

  • Management does not use the system and does not rely on the information in the system for decision making. This is one of the feedback loops of user adoption that can be a positive or a negative. If management is not using the information in the system, users will not be compelled to update the system and use it effectively. This is also one of the chief reasons data integrity will suffer.
  • Executives and management do not “buy-in” to the system. Having a top down approach to the Dynamics CRM implementation is obviously a key to getting user adoption throughout the organization.
  • Technical issues or limitations with the software cause users to find workarounds

For additional information, check out more Microsoft Dynamics CRM case studies.

By: Bill Caldwell – Colorado Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner

Follow Bill on Google+

Bill Caldwell is a director and lead Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultant in the Denver, Colorado practice.  Bill is a certified Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultant and specializes in customizations, reports, customized queries and integrations.  Bill is an active member of the Dynamics community since joining RSM in 2007.  Bill is also experienced with the Microsoft development suites, which includes SQL Server, Visual Studio.Net and SQL Server Reporting Services.  Prior to this, Bill spent five years working in industry as an accountant and financial analyst. Contact Information: Email: Phone: 303.298.6465 Follow Bill on Google+

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