September 18th, 2009
When a company takes on a task like implementing a CRM system, it affects many (if not all) departments and people within the company. However, only a small group of people are involved in the everyday planning and implementation work. That’s why a communication plan is so important to the success of the implementation. A communication plan can be simple to create, but must be done strategically to make sure all parties are kept in the loop throughout the process. The plan goes back to the basics – who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Who is responsible for communicating to the company? — Select someone that is an integral member of the implementation team, or who can be kept in the loop throughout the process. The responsible party preferably should be someone in the marketing/communications department, as the company should already be used to receiving notices from them. And who is receiving the messages? — Does the entire company need to be made aware of everything, or only certain people or departments? Break down the company by department or role, and determine who needs to receive the communications. All future users of the system need to be on this list, as well as anyone that will be indirectly impacted by the system.
Lay out what you would like to communicate to your audience. For starters, you will need to make everyone that will be using the new CRM system aware that this process is going to happen. You will also want to let them know how the system will impact their day-to-day work, when to expect the system to be available, what kind of support will be available for them, etc. Make sure to keep the communications simple and short, but to the point. Let them know what affects it will have on them (otherwise you will lose their attention immediately).
Add “fun” to the communications if possible – create a contest for the employees based on the CRM system; use countdowns to major milestones in the project – anything to get them engaged. Most importantly is making the employees engaged in the process, not just through the communications, but also by including their feedback and input into the implementation. Make sure every department and every level is included to ensure the system will get used and appreciated by all.
If your company has an Intranet, post the communications on the home page or on the Company News section. Send out the communications via email.
If you have a company newsletter that gets printed and distributed, make sure the communications get included in the newsletter. Post in your lunchroom for employees to read on their lunch break.
Post in the bathroom stalls (hey, why not!) if your company has its own bathroom.
Your communication plan should include the frequency in which the information gets distributed. You want to make sure you are keeping everyone in the loop as the implementation progresses, but you also do not want to send out messages too often, as you will dilute the message and lose your audience.
Since a typical CRM implementation project can take anywhere from 3-12 months (depending on the size of the company), I would get a communication out on a monthly basis, and then any major milestones that are achieved or warrant communications should be sent out as special bulletins. Make sure that training dates are included in the communications as soon as they are identified. You want to make sure all employees that will use the CRM system will be available for training, so get it on their calendars early!
And once the implementation is complete, the communications should not stop there. This gives you the opportunity to make sure employees are using the system and help them in using it. Send out “Tips and Tricks” on features of the system that are beyond the basics, that either they will have forgotten about since training, or was not covered during training.
Do you really have to ask why communicating about the CRM implementation is so important? If so, here are a few key reasons –
- Make sure everyone is on the same page
- Keep employees informed and aware
- Keep employees engaged and part of the process
- Keep the CRM implementation team on track and accountable
- Make the transition to the new system as seamless as possible
- Eliminate all of the basic questions employees may have upfront
How to communicate to your employees is really the same thing as where. How will you communicate the message to everyone? Will it be an email, a newsletter, a post on the Intranet, a memo, notices hung throughout the office? Will it be a combination of methods to make sure the message is read?
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Kendra Von Achen is President of DB Pros, a database & business consulting company based in NJ. For more information on this and other CRM-related topics, contact her at email@example.com or visit their website at www.dbprosconsulting.com.