Managing your CRM rollout part 2: The iteration cycle

18 October, 2017


There is a critical stage your CRM project must pass through to succeed:

If users provide feedback and see the system improve, you've got them. It's now their system and they're advocates for its continuous evolution within your organisation.

However, if you don't make it to this important milestone, you've likely got a failed CRM deployment to answer for.

Far too many organisations fall over at this critical step. Don't let yours be one of them. The below approach can be delivered with the support of your consulting partner, or independently if your project team is up to the challenge. It's designed to ensure your system improves based on the insights gained by users on the front line:

1. Gathering feedback

Users should feel supported

For the first few weeks, super users should be available as a first port of call for users' questions and queries. If users feel like they're neglected they'll quickly disengage and getting them back on track can be challenging. More technically-challenged users may also need one-on-one sessions with a super user until they've grasped the core processes and concepts.

Make it easy for users to provide feedback while they're using the system

For most users, ideas for potential improvements arise for a brief moment while they're using the system. If they don't note this feedback down, it's out of their head and they're on with their busy day. For this reason, creating a place within the CRM for users to contextually share and collaborate around ideas for system enhancements is critical.

Leading CRMs have internal collaboration tools that mirror many familiar functions available in social media tools such as likes, "up" votes, shares and polls. Creating topic-specific feedback groups makes it easy to bring users' suggestions together in one place. It also encourages debate and discussion, while making it easy for the project team to collate and review potential enhancement ideas.

Ask users for their feedback in a group setting

We'd recommend your project team run small focus groups (up to 6 users per group) around the 2 and 6 week mark following the initial training workshop. This is a more structured opportunity for users to speak directly with the project team and each other. Below are some thought starters to elicit feedback from these sessions:

  • On a scale from 1 - 10, how are you finding the system and why?
  • Are you finding it genuinely useful in your day-to-day role?
  • Specifically, how has the system changed the way you work?
  • Are you feeling adequately supported by your team and super users?
  • What are your main challenges using the system?
  • If you could make a few key changes to the system to make your life easier, what would they be?
  • Is there anything you feel the system should do that it doesn't do?
  • Have you encountered any errors or bugs we should know about?

Frustration often leads to improvements

Remind users to pay attention to any time they get agitated when using their new CRM. This either means they're not using the system correctly (which can be addressed with further training), or that they've found an opportunity improve things.

Educate users on what's possible

Users won't fully understand how a CRM can be customised. It follows they won't necessarily connect the ways in which their frustrations can be translated into improvements. Some basic education around aspects of the system that can be enhanced should be provided. These include identifying bugs they've encountered, as well as potential system refinements, including:

  • Relevance of data being captured - when the system is requiring mandatory data to be input too early or late in the process, necessary fields to add or irrelevant ones to remove, duplicate customer information that needs to be cleansed
  • User experience - making page layouts more intuitive by grouping relevant fields together, splitting pages into tabs for less scrolling, performing actions with less clicks
  • Reports and dashboards - additional or irrelevant reports, inaccurate reports requiring improved data validation
  • Automated customer touch points - adjustments to email templates, follow-up tasks, call cycles
  • Manual processes that can be automated - can workflow help them perform a task faster?

The data doesn't lie - use adoption dashboards

Many CRMs have out-of-the-box adoption dashboards which give a clear picture of how the system is being taken up by users. These dashboards track aspects such as login count, time spent in the system, page views and usage of key functionality.

2. Prioritising Feedback

Fortnightly > monthly > quarterly

Remember, the first month is critical. Users must see that their feedback is noted and promptly actioned. We'd recommend reviewing feedback fortnightly for the first month, then at months 2 and 3, then quarterly for the remainder of the first year post-deployment. Book these sessions in your project team's calendars at the outset to ensure they happen.

Establish what changes are worth making and in what order

Prior to your project team's refinement sessions, we'd recommend your super user reviews the latest feedback, collates all suggestions and categorises suggestions into the below classes:

Project road map

Ideas for significant projects that will require further scoping and investment. Example: Have the system handle our contract renewal process.

Declarative changes

Simple, quick wins to improve user experience, data validation, fields, security permissions etc. Usually there will be no scoping required - just a yes/no decision. Examples: Add mandatory “lead source” field to lead object. Change “sales activity report” to a pie graph for better data visualisation.

Process changes

Changes to the way a user performs their role within the system. May involve workflow automation or custom code. Usually requires business consulting/analysis input, light scoping and user training post-change. Example: Add new lead status: “wants information,” which, when selected will automatically send information pdfs on products of interest to customer.

Not feasible

Suggestions that are technically not possible or simply not the way to go.

Once collated, the project team should review the list of potential refinements and weigh up the order of priorities. Some questions to help you rank system iterations include:


  • Can this change be executed quickly by a system admin or does it require technical development resource?
  • Does the change require investment in consulting or senior team resource for process mapping and scoping?
  • How easy will it be for users to adopt the new change? Will additional training be required?
  • How much time is it likely to take to implement the change and at what approximate cost?


  • How will this change improve the experience of our users and/or customers?
  • Will this change help us market, sell or service more effectively?
  • How many users does this change benefit?
  • Will this change save us significant internal time and money in the long run?

Opportunity cost:

  • If we don't do this, what will the impact be on our users, customers and company?
  • If we prioritise this over other enhancements or projects, what is the impact of delaying other initiatives?

3. Executing changes

Use a Kanban style project management tool

Leveraging a cloud-based project management tool that allows teams to execute these changes is critical. We'd recommend looking at Trello (the most well known) as well as other options on review aggregator site, Capterra. There may also be a native project management application you can leverage within your chosen CRM such as TaskRay for Salesforce. This ensures the iteration cycle is well-managed and there's a common understanding of where everything is at.

Test before you release

Changes should be given to a small group of more technically-proficient end users to okay from a functionality and user acceptance perspective before pushing live. The safest way to do this is by using a testing environment called a "Development Sandbox" which most leading CRMs make available. This allows development to happen safely and mistakes to be made without impacting the day-to-day lives of users within the live system.

Don't release changes without letting users know

Once you're ready to deploy changes, users need to be notified. This can be a simple post to the CRM's "system updates" group for straightforward tweaks, or scheduled training for more complex process enhancements.

When the iteration cycle is managed in this way, users see the commitment to improving the system directly related to supporting them to succeed in their role. This is a far cry from the historical connotations of CRM being "big brother" or a "beast to feed."


Continue to the final post in this series: Clarify your CRM road map