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MSD CRM Updates

Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Adoption Planning

The Dynamics CRM user adoption means that everything you do with your Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation is done through the lenses of CRM user adoption. This prevents you from getting overly focused on technology and maintains the focus on how Customer Resource Management will help the users and meet the overall company goals.

There are 10 major ingredients to successful CRM user adoption:

  1. Scope and Vision
  2. Executive Leadership
  3. Ownership and Support
  4. Communication
  5. Accessibility
  6. System Function
  7. Data Quality
  8. Process Alignment
  9. End-User Motivation
  10. Training and Reinforcement

Missing the single ingredient may not mean failure, but missing several ingredients or applying the insufficient ingredients, the greater risk to Dynamics CRM user adoption. Perfection is not attainable in any company so always strive for excellence and improvement in each of these areas.

Scope and Vision

When planning your Dynamics CRM user adoption, strive to keep the initial phase as simple as possible. Taking on so much is the key point of failure. Many companies change quickly so if you design the system and are still building it a year later, you are now working on an outdated design.

That is why it is key to use the phased approach. Take on what must be accomplished now, and plan later phases for the enhancements that layer in extra value.  Not only will you get the first phase done more quickly, but what you learn in the process of phase 1 will save you time and money in the later phases. As the business changes, you can create small adjustments to the app to keep it up to date with processes.

Executive Leadership

Many times the Dynamics CRM is seen as a top-down system that management is pushing onto the users. And while it is the key to get the end user buy-in, it is important to understand that top-down strategy involves more than just management—it needs leadership.

In the implementation of the Dynamics CRM, communication from leadership is needed to help employees understand where CRM fits into the company strategy and direction. Are you a customer-focused organization? Is CRM useful you create “raving fans” of your customers who are addicted to your products and services?

Since leaders support provide meaning to employee contributions, they are a key part of the process. Plan to have leaders communicate the Dynamics CRM strategy at the starting of the CRM planning phase, during rollout, and during company-wide events and the communications. Include the leaders in recognizing individuals and celebrating CRM success.

Ownership and Support

There are two major aspects of ownership and support: business ownership and technical ownership.  Business owners own the business process and the alignment of Dynamics CRM to the business process. Technology owners help the infrastructure and ensure the problems are resolved quickly.

  • Outsourced IT. Unless you have the jack of all trades CRM champion who can help the business process and the technology, you may have to form the strong partner relationship with an implementer like Dynamics support desk to whom you can outsource CRM support.
  • Small Internal IT. Often the champion from the business will own the business process and questions.  If there are multiple teams, the champions from every team may form the committee that owns the business process and the solution. IT may help the users and the workstations for technical problems.
  • Large Internal IT. In organizational cultures where IT sees its role as “serving” the business, an IT business analyst may be assigned to the business to manage the users’ business processes and interface with IT to get technical work completed.

Deciding who is responsible for both of these roles within your company is critical to the successful deployment and ongoing help of the users. In all cases, the escalating difficult business and the technical questions to your Microsoft Partner will likely be necessary.


You may need the communication plan for updating the executive leadership on the status of the CRM implementation, as well as the ongoing success of CRM user adoption.  You will also want a communication plan to end-users during the implementation and as enhancements are rolled out.

Communication should include:

  • Timeline. Include risks to the timeline.
  • Roles and responsibilities. What is expected of them and when?
  • Deliverables. What can they expect to see? Cast a vision.

It is also critical that this is a two-way communication and that the initiating of the implementation involves engaging end-users and leadership around what they hope to get from the system.


Create a plan for how users will access the system and ensure that all roadblocks have been removed to create it fast and easy to access. You do not want to give users any reason to NOT use CRM user adoption because it is difficult to access or takes multiple steps.

  • Use of Outlook. Being able to use Dynamics 365 right with Outlook is a key success factor for many organizations because it puts CRM in close proximity to the user.
  • Internet Facing Deployment. If you are using the Dynamics 365 Online, you already have an internet facing deployment (IFD).  But for those who are running the CRM on your internal networks, the IFD authentication model allows the users to access CRM while out of the office without having to log into the network (such as with VPN or Citrix).  This creates it easier for users to access CRM from anywhere and on any device.  Work with your IT department to determine it if IFD is the option and possibility for your users.
  • Mobile Access. Especially if you have the users who are on the road visiting the customers, you should plan for mobile access to CRM.  There are many mobile options for the Dynamics CRM. If users must wait until they are back in the office or online to use CRM, this means CRM will be less useful to them, and fewer data will get entered into CRM.  Mobile access will help promote dependency on the use of CRM for daily work.

Some organizations have some restrictions on IFD and mobile access due to their industry such as those in the financial services or healthcare.  It’s important to let users know these options have been restricted due to security.

System Function

Whether starting an implementation or working on CRM user adoption, system function is a critical piece. If the users are getting errors while they access CRM or experiencing poor performance, they are less likely to use the system. The poor system function will be the excuse for not using the system for those whose time (and knowledge) is most valuable to the company. Take care of these few areas:

  • Updated Hardware. For those who are using the Dynamics CRM on-premise, work with your IT department on investing in updated hardware. Some companies will select to use existing hardware and plan to move CRM to newer hardware in the future. However, you get one chance to create a 1st impression on users. If performance is slow, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will develop a bad reputation with users that have nothing to do with the solution. The infrastructure must be in place to help high performance.
  • Testing. 3 aspects of testing will ensure errors that do not get rolled out to the users. First, always test. Develop the testing cycle for your initial rollout and enhancements.  Second, always test in a production-like environment. Even slight differences can cause errors to go unnoticed until they are deployed in production.  Last, always test with the end-users security roles. A common mistake is testing as the sys administrator and end-users do not have access to the feature or get errors.

Data Quality

Creating and maintaining data quality is one of the difficult aspects of maintaining the CRM database. That is why it is critical for an organization to plan how they will handle the information.  Here are some tips for promoting data quality.

Start with Clean Data

Rather than bringing in problems from the existing data sources, start with the clean dataset. Remove out-of-date activities, as well as the organizations and contacts that haven’t been touched recently.  According to your business, the cutoff may between 1 to 3 years. If users are concerned with losing the old data, you can always create the repository where old data can be accessed, if needed.

Use Duplicate Detection

Microsoft Dynamics 365’s built-in duplicate detection services allow you to create rules that check for the duplicates on the creation of the record. You can also run duplicate detection jobs to find the duplicates in the database.  Once found, it is easy to merge duplicates.  Consider assigning the regular duplicate checking to someone on the team. Read more about duplicate detection in the information management chapter.

Manage Your Contact Lifecycle

Most organizations have a plan for how contact data will get into CRM, but few make a CRM user adoption plan for how data will get out!  Make a plan that addresses these questions:

  • What happens when an individual leaves an organization?
  • if an organization goes out of business?
  • What happens when a contact dies?
  • if a contact becomes unresponsive or hostile?
  • if the lead is not qualified or ready to purchase right now?
  • if the prospect drops out of the sales process?

All these questions should lead to ways of marking, deactivating or deleting the records to keep the information clean.

Consider Data Validation

Data validation is the process of determining whether the information is in the proper format, and without it, your data could become unusable. This could be as simple as formatting the phone number with the specific digits so that it can be used on auto-dialers. It may also mean using the service to verify the addresses meet postal standards. This is critical if you plan to mail contacts in your database. Take a look at every field on your CRM record to determine:

  1. Can a user misuse this field?
  2. What are the consequences of doing so?
  3. Can this be prevented using data validation or forcing the selection, such as with a pick list or lookup?
  4. What are the checks to fix improper data entered?

It is good to check how users are using data and revisit these questions.

Consider Data Verification

Data verification includes ensuring that information is accurate meaning this email address really belongs to Sally Jones or ABC Company is still at this address. This may be as simple as having the organizations or individuals update their data through a survey. However, lists of prospects and suspects who are not in contact with your organization get outdated very quickly. For organizations investing the money in the use of CRM data, sending data to a data cleansing service may be necessary.

Consider Data Augmentation

Data augmentation services aggregate public data and present it to the users in the context of the CRM. For example, while looking at a lead or account, I might want to view related press releases, articles, and social media feeds about this organization without having to search for it. Most data augmentation services allow users to download the information into CRM, reducing the data entry of basic data such as addresses and phone numbers. Often the contact lists provided by data augmentation services are out of date, but they may give some value.

There are two overall themes regarding data quality. First, make a plan. Without a plan how you will keep data clean, you surely won’t! But also, assign someone some responsibility for handling data quality.  Unless someone owns this and is accountable for it, it’s just a nice idea!

Process Alignment

One of the primary reasons for choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM is because of its configurable and flexible architecture. CRM provides the toolset to customize the screens and processes not only for your initial implementation but also so you can adjust it over time.  It’s important not to have the implementation mindset where Dynamics CRM is designed, rolled out, and done! Rather, the organizations should put in place a system for reviewing processes, identifying changes that need to be made, and rolling out enhancements.

Below represents the implementation process which has a singular focus: initial deployment.

After deployment, the organizations should transition to the cyclical process of evaluating needs and enhancing the CRM. For large organizations, this might be a 6-week process. For small organizations, this might be the annual evaluation. If you have someone on the team able to make changes fastly, this may also be done very frequently for a more agile approach.

Without this process analysis, CRM will not grow with your organization. After years, you will find users have abandoned the functions of CRM that no longer apply to their job roles and processes. Inevitably, users will complain the system is outdated and request for the different technology. But process alignment is not the technology issue; it’s an organizational problem.

End-User Motivation

Everyone knows that “If you build it, they will come” is not a good CRM user adoption strategy. Of course, you have to answer the What’s in it for me for users, detailing the benefits and the wins they will get from using the CRM system. This is a good thing to know BEFORE you start designing your CRM system, but it’s never too late to list and communicate the benefits to users.

Interesting though, there is a misconception that explaining the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to the end-users will motivate them to use it. This is not true, and that is why it is important to explore other motivations users may have. Those might include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Competition
  • Accountability
  • Appreciation from leadership
  • Public Recognition before peers
  • Rewards

In addition to explaining the benefits and wins to users, pick at least 3 of the above following motivations, and create the plan for how you can incorporate them into your CRM user adoption strategy.

Training and Reinforcement

When most people think of successful CRM User Adoption, they think of training—effective training. And that is a big part of CRM user adoption. Here are some principles you want to think about and follow as you create and plan for the successful training.

  • Provide Role-Based Training. While it’s okay to combine the groups of users for training on basic navigation of the Dynamics 365, it’s important to split users into separate training for their job role. This ensures that the training is process-focused, NOT technology focused.   Understanding how processes will change is more than half of the learning during training, and providing process-based training will significantly increase retention.
  • Train with Real Data. You may already know how the brain works new data attaches to existing knowledge in the brain.  New data becomes arbitrary if there is no existing knowledge to which the new information can attach.  That is why the retention increases significantly when the users can learn on the system with the information they recognize.  Not only do they understand the concepts more fastly, but they also remember them!
  • Reinforce with Tangible Tools. Provide users with extra data they can take with them after they complete the training whether it is a cheat sheet, a list of resources and upcoming training, or a location of a learning repository.  Also, provide users with a list of who they should contact with different types of questions or issues.
  • Provide Ongoing Learning. Your training plan should include more than just initial training.  Add follow-up reinforcements where the initial training content is repeated in the overview fashion.  Provide one-on-one sessions for the users who may need some help.  Hold Q&A sessions and mini-trainings on advanced topics.  Create a plan to give ongoing learning on a regular basis.

Whether deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365 for the first time or rolling out an upgrade, Dynamics support desk can help you make the best training plan appropriate for your organization.

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