What is Change Management in CRM Projects?

What is change management in CRM projects?

Dynamic customer tastes and market pressures keep your organisation on its toes which is why there’s a constant need to generate innovation within businesses. However, transitioning to new ways of working on time and to budget is incredibly difficult — as is ensuring your staff is well-equipped to navigate their new working environment once it’s established. 

In this article, we’ll explore change management within software contexts and walk you through how to implement a new CRM in your business successfully. We’ll share expert change management processes so you can begin your digital transformation with awareness of potential pitfalls and insightful best practices. Read on to find out more.


What is change management, and how does it work?

What exactly does ‘change’ look like in business? Change refers to any switch, shift, or transformation (fast or slow) of any aspect within an organisation. For instance, companies can change operational processes via new machinery, switch marketing tactics using new platforms or shift investment strategies with new revenue data. 

Each of the above examples involves a company or department abandoning existing tools or methods for a new version.  Of course, change within firms doesn’t necessarily need to entail a complete overhaul of systems every time a performance gap is measured. Rather, instances of transformation can be partial, with new methods or tools somewhat resembling previous operational processes.

So far, we’ve discussed the ‘change’ element of change management — that is, what changes within companies (methods, tools, etc.). Senior leaders must also consider how to manage change within their organisation –– i.e the circumstances under which business transformation occurs. 

For example, gradual business change is inevitable, as it resembles the slow evolutionary development of skills and behaviour. For instance, you may find that client onboarding, or customer acquisition processes within your business have slowly been refined over time, based on your experience in trialling what works. Other examples of gradual change include things like fine-tuning filing systems or creating in-house communication guides.

Unfortunately, progressive change can mean straying from established best practices and a loss in overall efficiency in teams. It’s why firms ask external agencies to benchmark their practices and keep them in-the-loop with the latest advice (like we do as part of our Health Check and Managed Service offers).

However, this article is concerned with acute change within organisations — for example, implementing new enterprise software or working patterns. In these circumstances, senior leaders seek to migrate their organisation steadily towards a defined end-state. If done well, the change management process is complete, effective and on schedule. Employees also benefit from fresh, innovative working methods, making their work lives easier. 

On the other hand, overseeing change across multiple departments comes with challenges. Without planning and careful management during the change process, sudden organisational shifts can leave loose ends and the process may forfeit the gains that spurred the need for change in the first place. That’s why senior leaders use change management processes to guide their efforts during company pivots and digital transformations.

What is the change management process?

It’s important to remember that there is no foolproof change management process a business can follow to create a successful business transformation strategy.

Instead, there are many competing frameworks that conceptualise the phases and factors behind a successful change management project. In fact, a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Engineering Business Management found as many as 37 different models.

So, what makes each model unique? Change management process frameworks all have different numbers of stages, or instructions. For example, the Lewin three-step change model of ‘unfreezing’, ‘changing’ and ‘refreezing’ emerged as one of the earliest change management models. Kotter’s process for leading change came much later and posits a heftier eight-step model, ranging from ‘create a sense of urgency’ to ‘enable action by removing barriers’.

However, there is considerable overlap between each model. Some of the most common elements of various change management process frameworks include:

  • Creating a clear vision of the proposed change
  • Generating a shared strategic plan
  • Motivating employees and senior change agents
  • Establishing stakeholder buy-in and engagement

At makepositive, we use the Prosci ADKAR and AIM change management methodologies to guide our work with firms. We outline the steps and features of each change management process below:

The ‘ADKAR’ method

The ADKAR method focuses on the individual, generating organisational change at the granular level for a complete transformation. This person-first approach addresses the fact that people make up organisations, and inspiring change in individuals affects the firm as a whole.
‘ADKAR’ is an acronym for each stage of this model’s change management process and stands for the following: 


All levels of an organisation must become aware of the need to change before any subsequent action can begin. Senior leaders must draw attention to the proposed benefits of new methods/tools for employees and make the case for transformation legitimate and meaningful.
Senior managers can use historical KPI data to demonstrate where inefficiencies occur, or how software solutions free up talent for other business areas.


Once senior leaders generate awareness of the need for organisational change, the next step is to inspire the desire across the company.
Establishing an appetite for transformation is crucial otherwise staff may struggle to see the value in disrupting existing practices for (seemingly) limited gains. Or, workers may fear that change places unnecessary risk on their existing projects and processes. 


The next step is knowledge, or, how to actually change. Although entire teams may be aware of the need to change and excited about new tools or processes, implementing them is an entirely different story.
At this stage, providing tailored communication on what the proposed change process looks like for each department is vital to help staff members deliver on their new expectations. 


Change management ‘ability’ is where staff put their newfound knowledge of change into practice. At this stage in a business transformation project, staff may need feedback on how their performance is developing under the new circumstances. They may also need time and support to maintain their professional growth.


Finally, change management leaders need to reinforce the trajectory and gains of the new methods/tools for working to ensure sustained, positive transformation. This stage is arguably the most important and complex element of any change management process, requiring careful and considered planning.

The ‘AIM’ method

AIM stands for ‘Accelerated Implementation Method.’ This method emphasises the difference between installing new organisational tools/methods and realising the benefits of actually implementing them.
As you’ll come to see, the AIM methodology takes a comparable approach to the ADKAR method in targeting human factors for a complete transformation (or implementation) and faster ROI. So much so that you’ll recognise some similarities between the frameworks in how they define a successful change management process.
However, the AIM methodology is longer than the ADKAR method –– ten steps in total –– centred around three key pillars:


The first pillar of the AIM method is defining the exact organisational change parameters, assessing the project’s context and building capacity in your staff — similar to some of the other preliminary steps of the ADKAR method. 

The planning phase lays the groundwork for a successful project, as senior leaders anticipate barriers to change (like employee skill or external environmental factors) and identify workarounds. 


The next few steps concern establishing and executing a detailed project strategy.
Like the ADKAR method, these steps include determining the project approach, building a communication plan and generating sponsorship from senior stakeholders. All of these steps help make the change management process actionable and measurable.

The implementation phase leads directly into the final ‘monitoring’ phase, helping to generate a sustained business transformation.


Finally, senior leaders should develop a monitoring and reinforcement strategy to help organisations maintain progress.

Furthermore, managers should incorporate lessons from the project’s lifespan thus far and generate a revised strategy outlining what work remains.

Here, the AIM method accommodates non-linear change management processes that can occur in real-world applications.

Which method is better?

It’s difficult to say with 100% confidence which method is superior in all change management contexts.
Some of the latest research posits that combining change management process models can help to capture the complex and varied nature of change management projects in organisations. Therefore, perhaps a more suitable question than, ‘what change management method is best?’ would be  ‘which change management methods (plural) are best?’.

Unlike some frameworks that define as little as three steps for organisational change, the ADKAR and AIM methodologies are highly detailed and time-tested methods. These specific frameworks are among the most helpful tools in successfully navigating transformation periods in companies and can be used in tandem given their similarities — which is exactly our approach at makepositive.

What is the change management process in software development?

We’re living through the fourth industrial revolution, making digital transformation a common type of organisational change project. Especially change management processes in software development contexts. Unlike organisational transformations of days past –– relying on large machines and assembly lines –– software implementations of CRM platforms like Salesforce can be particularly complex.

CRM software like Salesforce comes with extensive capabilities and long-term development needs. For example, Salesforce uses high-quality data to function. Therefore, there’s a technical element requiring specialist IT knowledge during the implementation.

However, there’s also a personnel component involved,  as staff must come to grips with embracing organisational change and learn how to use the new software correctly. As such, senior leaders must also invest time in developing new skills ahead of a  CRM launch. 

Depending on the scale of CRM implementation, senior leaders may need to allot a considerable amount of time as staff across multiple departments learn how new workflows integrate. It’s also important to note, CRM software also presents challenges at the managerial level, wherein senior leaders must learn how to interpret and utilise the newly available analytics dashboards.

Ultimately, following the principles of change management frameworks like the ADKAR and AIM methods ensures your digital transformation and CRM implementation is successful. Moreover, by using expert consultancy partners like makepositive, you can also stay at the forefront of best practices in core software areas and ensure you access the full power of your CRM.

Navigate digital change management projects intelligently

Change management is an integral part of modern business environments. Today’s digital tools and CRM platform systems offer innovative and integrated solutions, helping your business stay competitive with automation and real-time analytics. 

Ensure the transition to your new CRM is guided by industry-leading change management frameworks. Methods like ADKAR and AIM can ensure you reap the benefits of strategies delivered on time and to budget. Moreover, expert agencies can help sustain your digital transformation as new features, security patches, data management practices come to market.

Accelerate your change management project with makepositive

makepositive is a leading software implementation provider and a Platinum Salesforce Partner. 

We have a variety of one-time and managed service solutions on offer to help your organisation identify and realise the benefits of digital tools. With over 1,500 successful client projects delivered, we know what it takes to navigate strategic transition periods successfully and comprehensively. 


Get in touch with us at [email protected] and learn about how we can help your business today.

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