An All-Too-Common Scenario

Picture this: it's 8:00 am on Monday, and Pat arrives at their desk, smiling with coffee in hand, eager to dive into a productive workday. 

Pat tidy's up some emails, responds to a few IM messages, says good morning to their colleagues, and turns their attention to CRM. 


Pat wants to hammer through a few things that they opted to leave for Monday morning in favor of ducking out a half-hour early on Friday.


Pat signs in, looks at the screen, and a puzzled look flashes across their face. "Wait, that's not what it looked like on Friday?" 


They push forward and open a record. With brow scrunched, a sense of confusion and frustration creeps in. "Why is this so unfamiliar?" 


Pat reaches out to Sam, the CRM admin, who cheerfully replies that several system updates occurred over the weekend. Sam reassures Pat that they will "love" them all.


Pat, however, isn't so sure. 


In fact, Pat is now irritated because they cannot get done what they wanted to accomplish that morning. Pat even has a slight feeling of anxiety because their schedule is jammed this week, and they don't have time to learn something new. They had no idea this was coming, and now, less than 20 minutes into a fresh week, Pat feels behind.


This scenario is not a great start to the day or week, for that matter, but it's all too common. Users sign into a system to find that things are different from when they left it last. 


How would you feel about this? Perhaps it's not that big a deal. Or maybe you're not upset, just…what's the word…annoyed? Maybe you're downright frustrated. All are valid reactions.


As a system administrator or system owner, you have a responsibility to keep your users up to date with rolled-out changes—preferably before they roll out. But this work starts long before the changes take place in the system.

How to Keep Your Team Informed About System Changes


Below we share some tips on how you can effectively support users as you roll out updates in a way that will leave your team empowered, encouraged, and, best of all, aware.


1. Communication, Communication, Communication

Communication is the golden ticket every time! If you keep open communication lines, you're in a much better position right out of the gate.


I'm going to refer to two types of communication for the purpose of this article: active and passive.


Active communication is the act of sharing information in a 'send and receives' format. You send an email, add notes to a team IM, or share information during a meeting. You are delivering a message, and others are receiving it.


Passive communication is available for the receiver to consume but may not necessarily be actively sent to them. Think about a system change roadmap posted as a tab in the "Company Teams" Channel or on a whiteboard in the office. You can use active communication to make people aware of its location, but they need to engage with the information independently.


Both are very important. We all get tons of emails and IMs, and we soak in a lot of information during meetings. Will attendees remember all of the information they should? Ideally, yes. Realistically, probably not. You need to post information in organization-wide places so that people can consume updates on their own time.


2. Have a Systems Update Schedule

Predictability is key. Think of watching a scary movie. When it's a cheesy film, you know when the jump-scare is about to happen, and as such, your jump is more of a hop. In a well-thought-out film, the jump-scare scenes come out of nowhere. The result? Popcorn on the person sitting next to you.


When looking through a system implementation lens, the concept is the same, except we don't want jump-scares in the office. Having a schedule of system changes brings a level of predictability to the changes.


If users know that CRM changes are pushed the last weekend of every month, they are better prepared. Even if they didn't get a chance to read the communications or look at the roadmap, they know that Monday morning after the last weekend of the month, they may see some changes, and this knowledge will help them avoid the jump-scare.


3. Follow the "Well Before, Just Before, and After Rule"

It's a simple rule: You send a communication to users well before the changes, just before the changes, and immediately after the changes. 


Think of poor Pat from earlier. Had this rule been used, Pat would have known system updates were coming, and, even if caught off-guard Monday morning, they would have had communications in their inbox about the changes that took place. This likely would have reduced their anxiety, and Pat would have had a resource there to help them understand what they were seeing.


Well Before

Notify users well before any system changes will occur. Something like "15 days before we make these changes, we're advising users." In this scenario, send out a summary communication to users announcing the specific changes to be implemented with crystal clear (and I mean, CLEAR) detail on:

  • When the changes are coming
  • What changes are coming
  • What impact these changes have on the users
  • What type of training will take place with them (and when, if you know)

Just Before

A reminder a day or so before the system updates will give users a quick heads up. Some team members might have missed earlier communications due to busy schedules. Your communication should announce that changes are rolling out in the coming days (with specific details about when) and outline the changes once again.



A post-update communication confirms what was changed. Sometimes we run into deployment issues, so we need to push something to a future update at the last minute. This communication includes those items, so users know exactly what was and was not implemented. Again, think of Pat. What did they do before turning to CRM? Check email and IM messages. Pat would have seen the communication before logging into CRM, even if they had missed the other two messages.


Manage System Changes Mindfully

Users must be informed and brought along the system change journey. Using the tactics outlined here will help demonstrate that you have a plan of attack for system-related updates and changes. More importantly, users will have insight into changes that may impact their day-to-day and can plan accordingly, avoiding jump scares and bumpy post-release situations.


What do you do to manage system change in your organization? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Contact C5 Insight.