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Walk Before You Run

One of the things that Users have in common is their unique business situation when it comes to implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Outside of the desire to track information, it may be the only other consistent theme! 

For Bridgett Karst and Lindsey Underwood, who respectively serve as a software product manager and system administrator for a banking subsidiary, “walk before you run” has become a mantra. And that mantra has led to successful implementations, upgrades, and User adoption over the past five years. 

Applying Focus

While their organization is a subsidiary of a large banking firm, they’re not integrated with that company’s systems. In March 2011, they implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, starting with 120 Users. 

“Our focus even before the implementation was ‘walk before we run’,” says Lindsey. “We wanted to get our sales and service Users up and then start rolling out to other areas to make the tool more robust for our environment.” 

In order to execute on this focus, their organization created a steering committee that meets monthly, involving representatives from various departments so that all have a voice in the implementation. 

“During this meeting, we run through features and functionality as well as work through any issues and discuss workarounds,” says Bridgett. “We also work with managers as much as we can so that the features information trickles down to the Users, and the managers can be champions for CRM use (on their teams).”  

Bridgett and Lindsey also focus their teams’ use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM tools so that the Users find value and do not feel as though a product is being pushed on them needlessly. 

“We try to create targeted experiences to what is applicable in their roles,” explains Lindsey. “Creating that personal touch to the environment itself so that it’s simple to use is our ultimate goal.” 

When a User is struggling with something, Bridgett and Lindsey try to address the problem efficiently and quickly. Overall, they’ve found Microsoft Dynamics CRM robust enough so that Users understand the potential of the tool, and their team has benefitted from engagement that reaches beyond a general usage expectation.

“The 365-degree view of the customer, so our team can research and get historical info, reply and interact, and forecast business goals, has created an ownership from our departments,” says Lindsey. “They see the product as a benefit rather than something that is being pushed on them.” 

Clearing the Path

Since that original implementation, their organization has taken advantage of major upgrades, including the beta testing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, and has grown to 250 Users. The organization has also implemented a SSIS data integration as well as integrations for SharePoint, Outlook, and a mobile environment. 

“There was a pretty big learning curve moving from 2011 to 2013. At this point, it looks like the change from 2013 to 2015 will be minimal,” says Bridgett.

“With 2013, the User interface changes were more of a hump for our Users to get over,” agrees Lindsey. “Catering to them is what’s most important to us, and our training approach of what do you need/want and then drilling down on that has been helpful.”  

A training team has been established to support Users, offer hands-on demonstrations, and create a User guide. Bridgett and Lindsey also collaborate with other business units regularly on lessons learned, new endeavors, mobility topics, and more, and then bring that information back to their own organization.

“When we encounter significant product updates, we update the User guide,” says Bridgett. “All of our onboarding is handled through a training session that is set up specifically for new Users in our organization.” 

Deploying with Care

The organization has not yet gone live on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, as there is some red tape to work through due to their on-premises installation and the fact that some of the functionality is only available in the online version at this point. 

Another variable on the “walk before you run” path is integration commitment and upgrades. 

“When you’re thinking about everything you want/need, the list gets lengthy,” says Lindsey. “You also often come to find out what you thought you wanted/needed is not what you really need.”

“When we approach an integration, we map out the process and add on only what would be most beneficial to our Users,” continues Lindsey. “We chose to do it that way to make it easy to grasp, and less intimidating for our team.” 

Advising Peers

When asked what they would advise fellow Users, it’s not a surprise that the answer comes back to that “walk” metaphor. 

“Make sure there is a plan in place,” says Bridgett. “Have the tasks lined out of who is doing what, and have a timeline drawn out that works with their needs.” 

“From an admin role, when you can make the tool a targeted, personal experience, it really puts people over the hump in having a champion for your system,” adds Lindsey. 

For anybody starting over or making an upgrade, along with that plan of knowing features and what is valuable to Users, making sure you have support in your organization to seal the deal is what really brings everything together and makes all your effort worth it.  

“When a team’s business executives are on board and becomes a User themselves and looks at the information themselves, that really ties the bow on top of the present,” says Lindsey. 

Bridgett shares that their current exec sponsor is the biggest champion they’ve had to date, and as part of that synergy, the team is seeing even more positive results. 

“The biggest thing we’ve found in the last year to year and a half is that people are coming to us with a solution whereas before it didn’t cross their minds to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM,” says Bridgett. “Now they ask us if we can implement things so they can get the items they need. It’s put us in a really great position for success.”  

Bridgett Karst and Lindsey Underwood work for a banking subsidiary, supporting their company’s use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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