Here’s Why It’s Important to Focus on Change Management During a CRM Implementation

Change management within the Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation context is about getting users to adopt new processes and practices and the technology that supports them.


Change management should be viewed as an integral part of any CRM project. Without change management, the preparedness is very surface level. Attending training on the new CRM software is great but change management must go beyond that. In definition, change management is the process, tools, and techniques used to manage the people side of business change to achieve the required business results.


Not having a plan for preparing yourself for that level of change can create a lot of surprises and overwhelming moments once the system is live—especially when your team is expected to function at a high level.


Here’s why it’s essential to focus on change management during a CRM implementation.




Often, the stakeholder population is only aware of the coming changes that a CRM implementation will cause for their everyday lives at a “birds-eye view.” However, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful project is the level of awareness at a much deeper level—in other words, being able to articulate what is changing.


This applies to technology, tools, workflow, and processes that may be changing. Users need to articulate how the roles and responsibilities within their department are shifting. Helping users understand role changes on a detailed level is a clear distinction between a successful project and an unsuccessful project.


Fact: Change management enables organizational roles and structures that will support the future operating model.


Planning and Preparation


The emotional impact of change drives the need for change management. Once you have that detailed level of awareness of what’s changing, you can then develop adequate plans for adoption. But first, let’s examine the emotional impact of leadership and employees.


Leadership desires:


  • increased productivity;
  • new service concepts;
  • new processes or process redesign;
  • new organizational structures with cross-functional collaboration; and
  • significant cost savings.


Whereas employees are confronted with:


  • fear of job losses;
  • change of responsibility and decision authority;
  • change of work location;
  • new (and unknown) leadership styles;
  • new expectations of superiors and peers’
  • requirements for additional skills and expertise; and
  • new and unfamiliar tasks.


Fact: Change management addresses these issues and prepares staff members to operate in the new environment.




Motivation, training, and user-friendliness are critical components to a successful CRM implementation. Training objectives include basic competency with the software system interface and operation.


But perhaps, what may be more important is a form of mindset training to help deliver a seamless, high-quality experience on a consistent basis. This requires a change in employees’ frame of mind.


There are five building blocks of successful change.


  1. Awareness: Of the need for change.
  2. Desire: To participate and support the change.
  3. Knowledge: On how to change.
  4. Ability: To implement required skills and behaviors.
  5. Reinforcement: To sustain the change.


The different stages of change follow a process.


  • Current state: Includes awareness and desire.
  • Transition state: Focuses on knowledge and ability.
  • Future state: Directly correlates to reinforcement.


Fact: Change management prepares end-users to support the new processes and new technology.


 Performance Assessment Measures


Finally, change management involves assessing duties and responsibilities under the CRM mandate and a reconfiguring of performance measures. It should include a thorough evaluation of the existing organizational structure to determine the changes necessary for optimal CRM delivery.


For example, business units may need to be reconfigured around donor segments instead of product or geographically derived organizations.


Fact: Change management manages stakeholder communication and involvement to maximize project understanding and commitment.


CRM impacts every department and division within an organization, and its success is predicated upon everyone actively supporting the new strategic initiative. Establishing shared cross-departmental enterprise goals and objectives is essential to achieve cooperation during the arduous change management process.