ERP and CRM Projects in Times of Change

Businesses are used to change and disruption, although COVID-19 ups the ante in new and uncharted ways. Acknowledging this, we thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the tailored steps we’re using to help a customer forge ahead with their plan to add a CRM. With employees working from home or not working at all, there are ways to keep the momentum of your ERP project moving forward – but it won’t look like business as usual.

We thought it would be useful to describe a path one of our clients is taking - and how we are coaching, deploying implementation project quality assurance, and strategizing with them as they continue their process of seeking out and defining the parameters of their CRM initiative. Keeping their employees engaged along the way is turning out to be just one of the benefits.

The business we’ll discuss has seen their volume of sales slow significantly. The virus has impacted businesses in different ways – let’s just call it boom or bust.

Employees Need Focus in Times of Change

To say that daily work routines have been disrupted is an understatement. Employees need help redefining their roles and responsibilities. If their workload is evaporating, they need to be actively pulled into other activities and are typically glad to do so. As the virus turned into a pandemic, we aligned even more closely with this client who was in the beginning stages of using our independent expertise to help them choose and implement a compatible CRM solution. The company decided to use the downturn in business as a “window” to propel their CRM initiative forward – and needed our help to uncover new and unconventional ways of doing it.

Sudden change can cause voluntary paralysis – where a company freezes in place. This company chose to convene management early on – ready to accept the change and redirect resources as needed. (On a side note: human capital management (HCM) is another important anecdote to the pandemic and other employee issues that a company may face.

In addition to keeping their ERP initiative moving forward, they had a goal of giving employees a new sense of purpose and belonging. As the CEO stated to us “We want to hit the ground running when normalcy returns.” She clearly recognized the power a new CRM would bring. A way to not only better serve customers, but tech that could be used as a sales tool (think outgoing campaigns).

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Diversity is a plus

While many of the employees that were on the businesses project team and ERP steering committee were available to continue on, several were not. Management was able to identify alternate employees (subject matter experts) that were not on the original team that could now be added to the initiative. Internal staffing for the project increased.

Once these new and welcome additions were identified, Third Stage Consulting educated them as to the company vision and strategy – and what a CRM would and could do to grow the company and business. Don’t ever skip the step of consistently relaying/reinforcing your vision and strategy as it is the backbone of your initiative. This is a key prerequisite for getting executive alignment for your ERP or digital transformation initiative.

We are now about one month into this newly formed team and the synergy is amazing. As an example, a tenured employee from the restocking department was added to the team and has added unique feedback and contributions that will help deliver a better CRM.

Reinvent Communication Protocols

Employees respond to routines and deadlines. We are leading ZOOM video sessions with groups of employees daily. Monday with customer service, Tuesday with procurement personnel, Wednesdays with IT. We’re helping refocus employee distraction into employee productivity to a dispersed workforce. Luckily, ERP initiatives are segmented into several phases with measurable deliverables at each stage gate.

Morning ZOOM meetings foster discussion, assignments delegated, and deliverables defined. An example being - a group of employees are assigned to identifying how and where disparate customer data is currently stored (think addresses, previous orders, etc.). Once catalogued, Third Stage will help with the mapping of these sources of data and this same team will continue on to help with a robust and detailed data cleansing effort. Employees are focused and happily offer observations, suggestions and solutions.

Sidebar: Nothing is more detrimental to a CRM system than bad or dirty data. The amount of time and focus spent on the data segment would have been harder to duplicate during normal business cycles.

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Organizational Chance Management Just Changed

Change management means a little something different to everyone. Once you get passed understanding the different guises and perceptions, acceptance and positivity are the main the goals. It is as important to the success of an initiative as executive alignment, and lack of buy in has been known to sink good software implementations when ignored.

As independent ERP consultants, our observation is this pandemic is proving to be a unique point in time as it relates to OCM. We have never quite witnessed the types of teamwork and openness to change as it relates to workers and roles. We help clients deploy positive approaches to thoroughly address OCM (listening, coaching, involvement, training, etc.). It’s also common that we need to address the illogical, the resisters, the disengaged and a host of other behaviors.

The pandemic is causing devastation and pain, but its positive effects on OCM are real (and you read it here first). We’re of the belief that workers’ feelings and motivations are rooted internally. COVID-19 is not selective and has introduced a vulnerability to the workplace that transcends the self-rooted problems employees may have dwelled on in the past.

As a consultancy, we are reworking some of our approaches to OCM to help employers maximize and adjust organizational change contexts (in a changing environment). Simply put, the need for OCM is as important as ever, but you will find a willingness from employees around adoption and compromise that we have not frequently seen in the past. This may morph as time passes - perhaps another reason to do it now.

In Conclusion

The underlying theme of this blog is about creatively treating your challenges as opportunities. We’ve given you a glimpse at what one company has chosen to do when the rhythm of their business was turned upside down. We have also facilitated a strategy alignment workshop for the C-suite of this business (during this down time) that not only focused on their CRM initiative, but helped redefine what their future state might look like.

Leaders are motivators and a source of support during time of change. There is a lot of emotion around the coronavirus and we hope we’ve given you some ideas about how to harness it.

As independent ERP and digital transformation consultants, we are used to helping remotely or onsite. Please contact us if a conversation about your company’s challenges and successes might be helpful.

Blanchette, Bob
Bob Blanchette

Bob brings a creative blend of understanding operational benefit and navigating employee resistance to change, ultimately helping organization realize success and benefit through maximizing the effectiveness of people. He holds a successful track record of HR leadership and promoting fair and unbiased outcomes.

Bob Blanchette
Bob brings a creative blend of understanding operational benefit and navigating employee resistance to change, ultimately helping organization realize success and benefit through maximizing the effectiveness of people. He holds a successful track record of HR leadership and promoting fair and unbiased outcomes.
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