10 deadly sins in CRM Users’ Adoption (full version)


Some days ago I wrote an article under this title in Spanish in our community blog (here) and it has several comments, mostly on social networks.

The CRMGamified® team took up that article and shared a summary of ideas expressed on it. Here is the article if interested in reading just a summary.

Now, I have been asked by several people in the CRM arena (not necessary related to Microsoft® Dynamics CRM) to post a more detailed version in English and that is what I will try in the following paragraphs.

Hope you like it and share your comments below and/or related social discussions in linkedin.

10 deadly sins in CRM User Adoption

The users’ adoption in CRM is undoubtedly one of the most important issues related to success in this kind of projects, and Forrester® has found it was the main cause of failure in 70% of CRM projects that failed.

We talked and discussed about this topic in our 2nd virtual event of the community of elblogdeDynamicsCRM.com community! (Spanish) with Gus Gonzalez and Javier Garagorri. Unfortunately the video couldn´t be recovered, since from my humble point of view it was a very enriching conversation in every way.

So, from that instance and due to a group of Dynamics CRM events that we are doing in the region, I have been compiling and presenting a summary of "10 deadly sins" that typically are committed in CRM projects related to the adoption of users.

In the following lines I will try to share these 10 sins:

1. Believing that a “blessing” from upper management is enough to get users engaged in CRM.


Sure we need managers to be on board with our CRM program but this is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

We shouldn´t believe that if the manager supports and encourages the use of CRM, it simply will be used. If he doesn´t, it is very difficult for the CRM succeed but if he does, there is no guarantee that it will be adopted.

2. Having a Do-It-Yourself approach and only reveal the final stages of the project to end users.


This is very risky from the functional point of view (we could be doing something totally different than expected by final users). Besides, by doing this way, users are not involved neither committed with the project, so ‘legitimately’ increases resistance.

The real problem here is the lack of feedback. You are building the CRM for they, you do need to take their opinions into account. Use prototypes, pre-releases, demos. Make sure they get familiar with the product and their expectations in place.

3. Entering too slowly into the system.


Of course, implementation needs to be gradual, but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be too slow that users feel the CRM is a mere option. You need to prevent them from getting the idea that CRM is just a side dish in their day to day work.

Once the system is in place, you need to push it whenever you can to promote a change in users’ behavior.

I would like to paraphrase our fellow MVP Gus Gonzalez who advises to always answer “it’s in the CRM” to any question related to a case, an opportunity, etc – thus forcing users to rely on the system instead of spreadsheets, emails, notes, etc.

4. Blaming the software for lack of adoption.


No doubt about it. Microsoft® Dynamics CRM is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office. It’s a very powerful tool that consistently stands out as a CRM solution. There’s a very high chance that the tool is not the problem. If you feel that adoption is low because the software is not friendly enough… well, you are probably doing something wrong.

5. Choosing the wrong Power Users.


Selecting your power users by their time availability and willingness seems natural but it’s often a big mistake: those people are usually the newcomers; young people that may not have enough experience in the industry and, most importantly, don’t have the trust of veteran employees yet. Choosing them as your power users will probably create a much higher resistance to change.

You need to select power users that are deeply involved in the company’s processes, especially in their particular area or department. However, you need to avoid having only one power user per area. If doing so, you may found yourself very weak, depending on only one person’s mood, affair with the project and time availability.

You need to have more than one point of view to minimize risks and make sure that the implementation is successful in all areas of the company.

6.Dumping duplicated or dirty data.

Data migration from other systems and databases may need to be considered a subproject in itself. Data cleaning and redundancy elimination needs to be carefully implemented in order to have usable valuable information in the CRM.

In fact, data migration is one of the transverse processes of the development methodology Microsoft ® Sure Step.

For example, a data migration process "standard" that we often follow in our projects, lined-up with Microsoft ® Sure Step, looks like this:


Regarding the tools and resources used for data migration, at UruIT Dynamix we work with Scribe, a world-class software for migration and integration of data from and to Dynamics CRM. In other occasions we apply SSIS or we even involve the BI team to work with us in data cleaning practices.

This is the way Workbench - the Scribe´s tool for data mapping from different sources to CRM without having to write code - looks like:


7. Keeping the CRM isolated from other systems in the organization.

There are organizations in which is possible to run CRM as an independent isolated system (for a while at least), but that’s often not the case for large organizations, especially if you want to increase user adoption.

For example, at UruIT Dynamix we have experiences with Banks, Health companies, TELCOs, where not having the information of core banking or legacy systems where important customer information and history resides would be totally unacceptable.


Therefore, it is important that CRM “talks” with the others systems and databases in order to increase its value and in this way the user may have all the necessary information immediately.

The form of integration is a study that an architect must make carefully on the platform and it changes from project to project. At UruIT Dynamix we apply .Net processes, SSIS, Microsoft connectors (Dynamics connectors), Scribe, Biztalk, etc.

For quick reference, I include below the component´s architecture and integration points of Microsoft ® Dynamics CRM:


8. Underestimating training.


Dynamics CRM may seem intuitive enough to any Office user but don’t let that make you assume training is not important. In order to encourage user adoption it’s very important to make them feel confident in the system. You need to allocate enough time for trainings, if only to make your users feel they invested time and resources in learning something new.

9. Failing to communicate the value of on-going maintenance to organizations.

From my point of view, as consultants our job is not over the minute we implement the system. On the contrary, that’s when the ACTUAL challenge begins and it’s one in which our clients are going to need our help as much as when they first contacted us . If they don’t see the importance of maintenance that’s probably our fault for not making it clear.

This stage is part of the Microsoft ® Sure Step methodology called "Operations"

During this stage we make adjustments and optimizations. We also check the system´s health, we improve the performance, we apply update rollups, we add new abilities and produce new reports, etc.


We need to have a previous agreement for the maintenance of the project for at least one year. Optimization is key in every CRM. It will not be truly “complete” until it is put to the test of time and use.


10. Failing to measure user adoption and not rewarding achievements.

We need to be able to measure. Always. Everything we do to perfect the system needs to be based on data. How many of them are using it? How are they using it? Which issues are causing them troubles? The answers to these questions are essential if we want to answer the even more important questions: What changes do we need to apply? How do we get them to use it? How do we keep them engaged?

Por lo que en UruIT Dynamix nos embarcamos en un proyecto apasionante durante todo este año 2012, altamente innovador y pensado para atacar el problema de adopción de los usuarios, aplicando técnicas de “gamificación” para fomentar el uso. Su nombre es CRMGamified® y hemos liberado el primer Beta hace tan solo unas semanas. Está disponible para descargarlo GRATIS aquí.

To solve that problem we embraced on an exciting project all over the year 2012, highly innovative and designed to address the problem of user adoption and engagement, applying gamification techniques to encourage its use. We call it CRMGamified® and we´ve launched the first Beta FOR FREE a few weeks ago. It´s available to free download from here: http://crmgamified.com/


The idea is to reward users for the proper adoption of the system, for achievingtheir objectives (for example sales target). Thus, people are recognized for their work, they´re rewarded, a ranking of users is generated according the way they adopt CRM.

For managers this is an invaluable information: they will know exactly who is using the system and how, if the objectives are being achieved or not, who are not using the tool, as well as having the chance to influence the behavior and then also reward the staff for objective results.


We hope you try it and send us your comments. There have been hundreds of downloads these days and we have received a very good feedback. This really encourages us to continue developing the final release.

I hope the presentation of these 10 deadly sins of user adoption of CRM has been helpful for you.

Do you know any other sin that is not here? Comment it to us!


PP [twitter: @pabloperalta]

UruIT Dynamix | #1 in Dynamics CRM Nearshoring Services.

Co-author The CRM Field Guide


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