The No. 1 challenge when bringing in new technology

I wrote a piece recently on getting the most from your CRM in which I explored some of the ways to identify and maximise the features of the system for your business. I got a very insightful comment back that rightly pointed out that “the most critical element with any CRM system is that the people using it actually enter the data they are supposed to – and keep it current. All the bells and whistle features in the world are of very little use if that isn’t happening”. I thought that a focus on users of new technology deserves a post all to itself!

The No. 1 challenge when bringing in new technology is very often fully engaging the people who will be using it. We see this time and time again, you’ve got to bring the people with you. We see CRM systems that are only partially updated if at all, and financial planning firms where only some advisers have learned how to use future cashflow software. More often than not, the reasons are down to poor implementation and management, as opposed to the individuals being unable or unwilling to learn how to use new technology. So how do you give your business the best chance of engaging your team with new technology?


Have a clear strategic rationale

Why are you bringing in the new technology? Is there a clear, undeniable need for it in your business or to improve your client proposition, or are you watching what everyone else is doing and have decided that it’s time to join the party? Being able to demonstrate a clear strategic reason for the solution is a critical first step in engaging your team. If they don’t see the reason and the value, it’s going to be an uphill struggle getting them to engage.

Don’t brush over this point with your team, instead spend time walking through the reasons. Then later as problems arise, which will inevitably happen at some point, you can bring people back to this point – this is why it’s being done. Know your Why.


Engage the team early

Your team are going to be the ultimate users of the technology, so engage them as early as possible in the process. First of all, if they are centrally involved in the choice of technology, the implementation plan and identifying workload impacts, their ownership of achieving the success of the project increases. Secondly, their knowledge and thoughts will add immensely to developing the very best solution for your business and your clients.


Have a documented rollout path

Some of your team will argue they are too busy already without having to “do this too”, while others may be daunted at the prospect of learning how to use new technology. For the first group, listen to their concerns and then bring them back to the strategic rationale – why you are introducing the technology and how ultimately it will add value. Yes, workloads may be an issue to be addressed, so this needs to be considered as part of the implementation plan.

For the second group – the technophobes, you need to be able to demonstrate a clear training and support plan for them. What training they will get, when this will happen, who will deliver it, how it will be delivered and where they can go with follow-up questions as they start using the technology. Consider internal “champions” of the solution – maybe a “CRM ninja” who knows the system back to front and who is ready and available to help struggling teammates.


Have clear expectations and build them into objectives

If advisers are only rewarded based on income, that is only what you will get. While income of course will be their dominant goal, on its own it is not enough. If you want consultants to capture rich information in a CRM system, they need to see the value of it first of all – back again to the strategic rationale. However you also need to be crystal clear that capturing such information is a formal expectation of them, to help drive the business forward. They potentially should be rewarded / penalised via a behavioural goal that feeds through into your performance management system for the quantum and quality of engagement with the new technology.


Recognise it’s not always easy – be patient

Introducing new technology always hits bumps on the road. Have formal feedback loops to deal with these. Encourage your team to identify and highlight issues that then need to be fed into a plan to be considered and addressed. Check in with the team at scheduled sessions to chat through how they are finding the new technology. Are they seeing the value, or is it just not happening for them? Go back to the rationale and the agreed implementation plan. Or else review the technology, if itself is the issue…


Your team are your greatest asset and they are the key to unlocking the potential offered by new technology. Engage them early, listen to them and help them to make a success of your technology improvements.