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CRM Application Teaches CIO He Can't Change Those Darned End Users

Nick Garbidakis thought he'd laid all the groundwork to prepare his end users for a new technology. In August, Garbidakis moved from a homegrown customer relationship management (CRM) application to one from Microsoft. Yet even with advance planning, Garbidakis encountered user resistance.

As the CIO for the New York-based, nonprofit American Bible Society, Garbidakis walked users through the implementation. He showed them, for example, how creating customer schedules would be easier because they wouldn't have to enter data twice, and he proved a strong business case by warning his business units that they would be responsible for maintenance costs of the old system (estimated at $35,000 annually) if they didn't accept the new one. "Along with a carrot, we had to bring a stick," he says.

Five years ago, the organization switched out a FoxPro system -- ironically, in favor of the homegrown CRM application. That experience taught Garbidakis how to go about a system swap. But all the practice and planning in the world can't change human nature. "People were griping that we moved their cheese," he says. Change -- even if it's for the better -- is often difficult for users to accept.

Stefanie McCann was formerly editor at large at CIO Decisions magazine. To comment on this story, email

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