What is Change Management?

Those who have attempted to implement CRM systems in organisations previously will understand there is often considerable resistance to change.

This resistance, if not addressed directly, will at best cause some delay to the comprehensive uptake of the system – at worst result in the failure of the project to meet it goals entirely. The development of a comprehensive Change Management strategy serves to overcome this resistance through a series of structured steps designed to change peoples attitude towards the change.

Overcoming Concerns

Although there has been considerable research into the main resistance drivers to change for CRM implementations, our experience is that a large amount of the resistance can be broken down into 2 primary concerns:

  1.  “Implementing a new system will mean greater workloads for us”
  2. “CRM systems feel like big brother – I don’t feel like the organisation trusts me”

Putting a plan in place to address these concerns can go a long way towards reducing these resistance drivers – in some cases reversing them all together!

Our Approach to Change Management

At Elysium Business Systems, we utilise the ADKAR approach to Change Management as a foundation to planning the change required throughout an organisation’s team members. In fact, our eLIFT ™ implementation methodology incorporates the 5 goals of ADKAR to underpin the planning and implementation of change at our clients.

In brief, the 5 key elements of ADKAR are:

  1. Awareness of the need for change to occur
  2. Desire to be involved in driving the change
  3. Knowledge of what is involved in the change
  4. Ability to perform the change activities on a day to day basis
  5. Reinforcement to ensure the changes are adhered to


Awareness is not just simply about making the team aware of the change that is coming – it is about the team understanding the reasons behind the change. There is often going to be significant resistance to change from the team members, especially those that are deeply entrenched in the incumbent systems or were involved in their initial development. Helping team members understand why the organisation is driving these changes helps break down the psychological barriers to change.

There are a number of means utilised by Elysium to achieve Awareness. Given the time, we would recommend highlighting the core issues the CRM system seeks to address in emails and/or presentations to all users and stakeholders. This should occur in the lead up to the CRM project announcement to ensure all team members are aware of the reasons for the implementation.


Change is much easier when people actually WANT to change. However, when people have beliefs the CRM will increase their workload or invade their privacy then this change can be a hard pill to swallow. Encouraging desire in the team is often the hardest step in the Change Management process.

We have found that the most successful approach to generating desire in the team is to develop positive associations with the system and its outcomes from 2 directions. We call these desire types ‘Intrinsic Desire” and “Compliance Desire”.

Intrinsic Desire can be created by team members seeing ways in which the system can make their lives easier. It could be access to the system from mobile devices, one-click communication with clients, simple report generation or the understanding that recording activities helps them remember key interactions. Regardless of the nature of the improvement, intrinsic desire is a powerful driver for change and a process should be undertaken to develop this in all CRM implementations.

Compliance Desire is generated from an need to comply with an organisational standard. It could be an SLA response time. It could be a specific number of sales calls. It could be related to the number of closed customer service cases or completed opportunities. Most organisations will already have standards or key performance indicators (KPI) in place that can be used. The key here is to ensure that the compliance with the KPI is met through comprehensive use of the CRM system. For example, if staff are required to respond to customer enquiries within 4hrs, this need to be managed through the CRM system and reviewed regularly in periodic performance reports.

While Compliance Desire can often be developed behind closed doors with key senior management stakeholders, Intrinsic Desire is most effectively developed through workshops that provide the team with a feeling of ownership over the development process. These workshops are a fundamental part of the eLIFT ™ implementation methodology and are recommended on every new system implementation or CRM Revival Programme.


For effective implementations of CRM systems, there are 2 primary knowledge challenges:

  1. How to configure and utilise the system for everyday use; and
  2. How the new processes will work.

The development of this knowledge generally comes through a series of training sessions and bespoke user manuals. In addition, quick reference guises or cheat-sheets should also be developed to maximise the efficiency of learning any new systems and procedures.

Training that is undertaken is generally best performed on a system that is identical to the production CRM system, if not on the production system itself. Real business examples should be prepared and all users should be given the opportunity to practice the skills required to effectively use the system. In addition, it is important that team members leave the training session to return to work and have the system available for use. This gives them the chance to practice these newly acquired skills immediately after training – while the concepts and procedures are still fresh.


The Ability element of ADKAR involves the demonstrated achievement of the new knowledge and skills. While some team members may be quick to adopt the skills required to use the system effectively, others may require more assistance.

To ensure all users are given the opportunity to develop the required skills, Elysium will usually recommend a combination of refresher sessions and “shadow training” – specifically targeting weaker users to ensure broad adoption of the system.


Reinforcement is the element of ADKAR that ensures that any change to your organisation remains in a state of continuous improvement. In most CRM implementations, this can be accomplished using a number of techniques. Initially, a series of meaningful and measurable performance indicators can be generated through the use of simple CRM reports.

These will be tied to the organisation’s project goals that are identified in the Launch phase of the eLIFT ™ implementation methodology to ensure they are both meaningful and associated with a feeling of accomplishment. They will also form an important cornerstone of Compliance Desire as outlined in the sections above.

As the users become more familiar with the processes and applied metrics, most organisations are able to modify these performance indicators to more realistically reflect the current and future business environment. In many instances, organisations will establish a team to analyse and review these indicators on a regular basis.

Although we understand that every business and every CRM implementation is different, we also know that there are a number of key elements that are likely to be fairly similar from one implementation to another. Our eLIFT ™ implementation takes advantage of these similarities by providing a framework for Change Management that will dramatically reduce the risk of a project not achieving its goals, while increasing the probability of long-term comprehensive adoption of the system.

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