As the focus on front office digital transformation continues, we are seeing increasing number of Asset Managers and Investment Banks struggle to maximise value from their CRM through low business usage, impacting anticipated gains in productivity and revenue. Low business usage, or adoption is rarely due to technology issues, but rather magnifies an organisations willingness to adapt ways of working aligned to business requirements.

As return on investment comes into increasing focus, there are five areas to consider driving better adoption and ultimately return:

Validate how CRM enables strategic priorities

While focus goes into developing a CRM business case which links investment to business outcomes, that link tends to be forgotten post go-live. Few organisations are able to tie the business strategy and KPIs with the roadmap; instead delivering a set of features with limited clarity on business value and impact on ways of working. Spending time with global and regional leadership (as priorities vary) to understand what the business needs from CRM to execute on strategy moves the perception of the platform from something that has to be done, vs a critical tool that enables the front office to maximise insight to drive better client interaction.

Execute through a relentless focus on value by persona

Linking user personas to adoption is not a new concept, while the theory is simple, most organisations struggle in the execution, challenging the premise that CRM needs to deliver value to a range of roles through common functionality, with visibility being the only differentiator. Based on our experience – developing new, generic functionality aiming to please all stakeholders results in, at best low uptick of usage, at worst even more adoption issues as users get increasingly frustrated as functionality doesn’t meet requirements and becomes yet another thing to do.

An alternative approach we have used is to clarify what value the client platform provides for which persona, enabled by data; supported by conversations with the business to validate assumptions. This initial “heat map” tends to highlight where persona requirements are likely met, vs where there is limited value add, frequently aligning with poor usage. This information allows product teams to then refine both the roadmap and strategy –balancing the common requirements with likely specialised functionality that will really make a difference.

Deliver a value-based integration strategy as part of the roadmap

One of the largest differences between high and lower adoption tends to focus on clarity of how the functionality delivers value by persona. The value delivered, is based both on what you can do, as well as the underpinning data users can access –moving from a CRM to a client ecosystem. Key considerations include both understanding where third party data provides benefit (contact and client enrichment and deal data are primary examples), along with access to internal data (revenue and historic performance). Using this value-based approach, successful clients tend to prioritise a limited set of integrations per year to enable critical persona journeys – enabling productivity and true value.

Focus on senior sponsorship both globally and regionally

Despite our best wishes, CRM usage rarely grows organically; more likely it grows because leadership is clear on the value CRM provides as it enables them to deliver key performance metrics and ultimately strategy. CRM product owners with higher adoption rates work with their business leadership both to understand current pain points, and “showcase” the art of the possible to provide inspiration on what can be done. This results in a roadmap that leadership both buys into, but also commits to using it as requirements are released.

The regional sponsorship is equally important – too often we hear complaints from regional teams the requirements delivered never considered either local language requirements or simply don’t reflect local priorities which tend to be much more focused on automation due to limited support resources. Localised ways of working along with differing regulatory requirements tend to be stumbling blocks if not considered early and up front.

Engage, engage, engage

While a steady stream of functionality releases delights users and showing innovation; there tends to be a silent majority who either don’t know how the CRM works or have had one bad experience, resulting in limited interest to re-engage. Our experience shows that a better adoption approach tends to be a combination of new releases with continuous engagement sessions at a regional and local level. Engagement sessions tend to be run by product owners to remind users of functionality critical to their ways of working combined with more general “reminder sessions”; providing timely feedback on what is working within the CRM, vs where there may be misalignment to ways of working.

As Investment Banks and Asset Managers set their sights on maximising client insight to drive growth, well adopted CRM platforms are a critical strategy enabler. With that in mind, it is also important to stay realistic about what good CRM usage looks like - for many, it is an enabler to understand areas of potential and leverage based on existing relationships within the organisation augmented with third party data.  Focusing on areas beyond data and technology – prioritising the end users and the value CRM can provide will help to ultimately deliver on the initial promise of productivity and market growth.