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Measuring change using change management software

Measuring change using change management software

Measuring change has become increasingly popular within the change management discipline.  It used to be that change practitioners were more comfortable thinking and proposing that they are all about people, and therefore people factors are not hard and easy to measure.  Areas such as change leadership, training, communication, and engagement were often the key tenants of a change professional’s key focus areas.

With increasing digitisation and focus on data and metrics, change management is also not exempt from this trend.  Business leaders are now demanding that change management, just like most other business disciplines, demonstrate their value and work outcome through measurable metrics.

Using change management software to measure change

Even before the more recent trend of focusing on various aspects of change, change management software products have emerged.  10 years, when the basic idea for The Change Compass started, there was only 1-2 change management software in the market.  Several years after that, there started to be 2-4 product offerings emerging in the marketplace.  

Over the years, many of these software products have closed shop, or been sold to other companies.  At the time, the need for change management software to measure change was not strong in the marketplace.  It was perhaps an immature market where a lot of practitioners saw little need.

Types of change management software

There are many types of change management software.  First, let’s spell out that we are not talking about technical change management software such as ITIL or technical change tracking software.  The focus of this article is on organisational change management software.  

The different types of change management software include:

  • Change project adoption measurement – Such as ChangeTracking that focuses on measuring the extent to which the project is progressing on track from a stakeholder perception and adoption angle
  • Change project implementation measurement – Such as Change Automator that provides a platform to automate project change delivery work that change practitioners focus on in capturing change deliverables, and overall change reporting and tracking 
  • Change portfolio measurement – Such as The Change Compass that offers data visualisation for a change portfolio (collection of change projects) to help make portfolio level decisions on prioritisation, sequencing and delivery risks
  • Other organisational measurement – Such as OrgMapper that provides organisational network analysis maps and networks to understand relationship networks across individuals and groups

Data capture and automation

One of the key value propositions of a digital change management software is to provide some levels of automation in the capture of change management data, so that the data may be easily analysed and visualised.  However, in our analysis of available change management software in the market, we found that there is a wide range of various levels of automation.  Some have almost zero automation, whilst others have significant levels of automation.  

In searching for an effective digital change management tool, ensure that you take into account the following in data capture:

  • To what extent is the data capture flexible and can be easily tailored
  • What are the system features to automate data entry?
  • Is there a range of data analytics from the data entered
  • Is the tool just a data depository without insight generation and data analysis features
  • Is the data capture too categorical?  E.g. Agile vs Waterfall?  And how useful are the data fields in terms of making decisions or generating insights?

Here is an example of automation from Change Automator where stakeholder data can be pulled from the company’s Microsoft Azure system to reduce the significant time required to input stakeholder details.

Change Automator example of using automation to save time

Data analysis & reporting

The power of digital software is that it can easily calculate, track, and visually show the metrics that we are focused on.  Looking at raw data is meaningless if it cannot be turned into highly engaging and meaningful charts that generate an understanding of some kind of insight into the organisational situation with regard to initiatives.  

Some change management software reports simple figures that may provide limited usefulness.  For example, the number of impacts affecting each stakeholder group may be interesting but there is not much we can do with the data.  This is because the number of impacts doesn’t indicate the overall severity or volume of the impacts.

Data visualisation should also support ‘drill-through’, where the user is able to click on the chart and drill into more details about that particular part of the data to better understand what contributes to it.  This is a critical part of data analysis and understanding the story that the data is telling us.

Effective data visualization

Data visualisation formats are also critical.  With the wrong data visualisation design, it becomes very difficult for people to understand and interpret the data.  Ideally, the user should see very clearly what the data is showing them visually.  For example, pie charts have become very popular in reporting.  However, pie charts are only useful to contrast a few different data points.  When there are too many data points and the data is too similar, the human eye finds it difficult to compare and contrast any differences.

Effective data visualisation should also allow the user to highlight a part of the data to create a visual emphasise to support a particular point.  Making the visuals simple for the user is ultimately the most important part of chart design.  The more complex it is, the harder it is for you to get your point across to your stakeholders.  

To learn more about designing the right data visualisation to create optimal impact check out our infographic.

Insight generation & decision making

Ultimately, the change management software should be designed to provide insight into what is going to happen to the impacted people (whether it be employees, customers, or partners).  The data should help you zoom into where is the source of the problem or the risk area, what the risk is, and potentially how to make a recommendation to resolve it.  The drill-through capability is critical to support the insight generation.  

The data visualisation should also directly support you or your business stakeholders to make business decisions on change.  If the data was just ‘interesting’ it will not have much impact and after a while business stakeholders will lose their interest in the data.  Instead, data and reporting should form a core part of regular business decision-making.  Decision making using change data can be:

  • Within a project in making roll out and implementation decisions
  • Within a portfolio in making prioritisation and sequencing decisions
  • Within a business unit in making capacity prioritisation, business readiness and operational planning decisions
  • Across the enterprise in PMO and change governance settings on prioritisation, sequencing, benefit realisation and enterprise planning

Tailoring of data visualization

For those users who are more advanced with change analytics, there may be stakeholder requests to tailor charts in different formats.  It could also be that for a specific organisational scenario, the user would like to create a tailored chart to show the specific problem that is not represented in existing off-the-shelf report designs.

In this case, the software should have the flexibility to allow these users to select their desired data fields and even types of charts that they want to work with to design the tailored chart without too much effort, and ideally not from scratch.

Here is an example from Change Automator where the user is able to easily tailor a chart by selecting the data fields, experiment with different charting, to come up with the ideal chart to influence stakeholders.

Example from Change Automator on easily tailoring charts

Trend analysis and predictive analysis through machine learning

Reading and interpreting individual charts can yield significant insights.  However, the real power of analytics is to look at historical trends and even predict future trends based on data.  Therefore, having the right data, over time, can create significant value.  This is why investing in data is so critical, and why not just technology companies, but most industries are focused on digitising and leveraging the power of data.

The same thing applies to change analytics and change data.  Invest in change data and the benefits can be enormous.  By better understanding data trends with the assistance of machine learning, the system can highlight and draw your attention to critical observations and findings that you may have skipped.

With sufficient data, you’re also able to utilise machine learning to generate predictive data trends.  Some examples of situations in which this can provide significant value include:

  • Typical times in which the business unit or team are busy with changes or operational challenges
  • Typically how initiatives of different complexities take to adopt and embed within the business
  • Typical delays in forecasted versus actual change implementation timeline
  • Stakeholder groups that tend to show the highest resistance or lowest engagement to initiatives
  • Predicted time it takes to realise targeted benefits

Investing in a change management software can create significant value for your organisation by measuring change and making it visual and easier to understand.  Selecting the right tool is critical since there is a variety of options on the market.  Examine closely the functionalities and how they enable you to make business decisions since not all charts may be useful.  With the right software support, you will be able to not only tell a compelling, data-backed story of what is going to happen to the business, but also the logical recommendations that stakeholders find hard to dispute.  

Change Automator example of leveraging machine learning in change analytics

To read more about measuring change visit our Ultimate Guide to Measuring Change article.

Making impact with change management charts – Infographic

Making impact with change management charts – Infographic

How do we make an impact by selecting the right change management charts for the points we are trying to make?

Which charts should we be choosing?

Are there tips to make it easier for the audience to understand?

What are some common pitfalls in creating effective charts?

Check out our infographic by clicking this link to download it.

To read more about storytelling through change management data, check out our Ultimate Guide to Storytelling with Change Management Data.

From change management data to business impact – Infographic

From change management data to business impact – Infographic

There are many steps in getting from collecting change management data to making business impact. Data does not equal business impact.

Is the data you’re showing presented in the right way for the right audience group?

Do you have a compelling story you are telling using the data? Without the story and context the data could be meaningless.

What recommendation are you providing and what action are you prompting your stakeholders to make?

For more on change management metrics visit our Ultimate Guide for Measuring Change

For more on storytelling visit our Ultimate Guide to Storytelling with Change Management Data

Here is a powerful infographic that highlights the key steps from change management data, sorted change management data, change management data visualization, generating change insight, storytelling the change insights generated, and actioning on change management insights.

To download the infographic please click here.

Why measuring change is not an activity

Why measuring change is not an activity

Measuring change is no longer a nice-to-have.  It’s a must-have for a lot of organisations.  A lot of stakeholders are now demanding to see and understand what is happening in the world of change.  With the enhanced volume of change and therefore the increased investment made by the organisations, it’s no wonder.  

Why are stakeholders demanding to see change data?

When we look across the room amongst the various disciplines, data forms an integral part of any function.  Finance – tick.  HR – tick, yes pretty much all aspects of people are tracked and reported.  Operations – tick, as we have all types of performance KPIs and efficiency indicators.  Technology – tick, since every part of technology can easily be measured and reported.  Marketing – tick, as marketing outcomes are tied to revenue and customer sentiments.

With Covid it is even more the case that data is integral.  We can no longer ‘walk the factory’ to sense what is happening.  To see what is happening and what is going to happen stakeholders revert to data.  In our virtual working environment, stakeholders require a constant dashboard of data to track how things are progressing.

Why is measuring change not an activity?

In the past it used to be that measuring change is only something you do in a project when you want to see if stakeholders are ready for the change.  No more.  Most organisations have a multitude of changes running concurrently.  There is no choice to select 1 or 2 changes to roll out.  With significant business challenges, most organisations are finding that running with multiple changes is the norm.

With multiple changes, increased stakeholder demands and appetite, measuring change is no longer just an activity.  Measuring change takes a set of structured routines.  It requires effective governance design.  It takes experience and analytical expertise.  Most of all, it is not a once-off event, it is a continual building of organisational muscle and capability.  We are heading into the world of change analytics capability.

What is change analytics capability and how do I attain this?

Here are 7 core components of building and maturing change analytics capability:

1. Establishing change data management procedures and practices

This is about setting up the right steps in place so that change data can be identified, collected, and documented.  This includes identifying the types of change data you would like to collect and how to go about collecting them.  It will be easier to start with the core set of data required and then build from these as needed.  This will reduce the risk of overwhelming your stakeholders.

After the right metrics and collection channels have been identified then it’s about building the regular routines to collect and document the metrics.

2. Sponsorship and leadership of change analytics

To really reap the value of change analytics you will need to gain the blessing and sponsorship of your leaders.  Well, at least in time.  In the beginning, you may need some time to come up with compelling data that tell the story that you want them to before you show your leaders.  Eventually, without strong leadership buy-in, change data will not be effectively leveraged to make business decisions.

Getting your leaders’ blessing isn’t just a verbal exercise.  It means that they are signing-up to regularly review, discuss and utilise change data to realise business value.

3. Build talent and organisation to support change analytics

Think about the various stakeholders and what you need them to understand in terms of change data.  The way you educate stakeholders will be different to how you educate operations managers or the PMO.  Plot out how you plan to help them get familiar with change data.  Do you need particular roles to support data analysis?  Is it a Change Analyst who is focused on the regular upkeep and consolidation of change data?  What roles do you need other team members to play?  

4. Insight generation

With a full set of change data infront of you, it’s now time to dive into them to generate insights.  What is the data telling you?  How do they support other data sources to form a clear picture of what is happening in the workforce?  Is the data accurate and updated?  Generating insights from the data takes skills and experience.  It takes the ability to integrate different sources of data outside of change data themselves.

5. Insight application

This is about setting up the right routines and processes so that any insights generated may be discussed and applied.  It could be through various governance forums, leadership or planning meetings that insights are shared and socialised.  An integral part of this step is applying the insight by making business decisions.  For example, do we delay the initiative roll out or invest more to support leaders?  Are there reasons for us to speed up roll out to support the workforce?

6. Change analytics capability development

Change analytics is a capability.

With good change data emerging, you also need to have the right people with the right skills to collect, process and interpret the data.  You may also want to think about which teams need what analytical skills.  Do you have people in the team who are sufficiently analytical and data-oriented?  Do they know how to interpret the data to form trends and predictions?  

You may want to think about organising capability sessions or training to strengthen data analysis skills.  Are there members in the different governance bodies that need support to be more confident in using change data?

7. Realising business value through change analytics

The last part of the equation is realising business value through change analytics.  This is about tracking and documenting the value realised through using change analytics.  It could include incidents where the business decision made has lead to significant risk reduction or operations protection.  It could be enhanced leadership confidence mitigating risks in negative customer experience.  Tracking value generated is critical to make clear to stakeholders the value of the overall investment.

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Do you have questions on measuring change for your organisation? Ping us on our chat.

To read up more about change analytics go to The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Change.

To download the diagram click here.

My stakeholders are asking for single view of change, but are really after something else

My stakeholders are asking for single view of change, but are really after something else

The term “single view of change” is starting to gain more popularity and organisations are starting to understand why they need this and what it looks like.  The term refers to an artifact that shows the different change initiatives being mapped together.  This is usually presented in a calendar format that shows when the initiatives will impact the organisation over time.  In this article, we will look closely at what the single view of change is, what stakeholders are looking for in this artifact and how to use it.

Typical formats for single view of change

  • Red, amber and green cells for each project across time
  • Business unit based heatmap across time

Here are some examples from The Change Compass as reference.

Different views may be selected for the Heatmap

The data may be grouped/ordered by different fields (Go-Live is shown as a star)

To read up more about Heatmap formats and what to look out for read Why Heatmaps are not the bet way to make change decisions.

Recent trends

In the past year there has been increasing interest from organisations talking about single view of change (SVOC) and wanting to derive this view.  What we’ve observed at The Change Compass are the following trends:

  1. Senior managers or executives are often the ones who are requesting the SVOC.  
  2. This usually arises as the number of change initiatives starts to increase and there is feedback that there could be too much change for employees to handle or change fatigue.  This is not a surprise given the companies are already struggling to keep up with competitive, technology, and regulatory changes.  Covid has added to these changes and compounded the overall change load.
  3. Senior managers are after data to make decisions on.  And managing change is no exception.  Gone are the days when managers can make decisions based on opinions and hunches.  With Covid, there are employees working remotely and so performance needs to be managed based on data – there is simply no other way.  In a similar vein, change data is integral to making business decisions.

An example of stakeholders requesting SVOC

When I was the Head of Change at National Australia Bank there was a strong focus on deriving a single view of change.  This was not always the case.  There were constant complaints from employees that there was too much change.  On the other hand, senior managers often responded with “we’re still able to run the business and the business has not broken, so let’s keep going”.

One of the key reasons that senior managers were requesting SVOC was that initiatives are by design in silos.  Each initiative team designs the initiative independent of other initiatives.  From a technical perspective, there are various architects who are accountable for advising on what the technology stack should look like and what is in the best interest of the organisation across initiatives.  However, from a people change perspective there were no practices in which changes across the board are harmonised and sequenced.

Eventually, at National Australia Bank we built a clunky way of capturing change impact data that did meet stakeholder needs. My realisation was that stakeholders that request SVOC were not after the artifacts per se.  In fact what they were after most were:

  • Determining when there would be too much change saturation leading to change fatigue
  • Ability to determine what needs to be moved and how/when initiatives can be moved if there is contention
  • Understanding key risks that could arise in executing on a range of change initiatives that could disrupt the business or impact initiative benefit realisation
  • Understanding what change activities are organised and how they are impacting business-as-usual operations so that effective resourcing can be in place

What this means is that stakeholders are asking for SVOC, when they are really asking for a way to manage the change portfolio in a way that reduces risk for the organisation and maximise benefits targeted.  Managing change at a portfolio level is a new concept and discipline for most organisations.

Change portfolio management takes time and capability to evolve and grow into in each organisation.  To read up more about how to manage a change portfolio read The Ultimate Guide to Change Portfolio Management and How to Better Manage a Change Portfolio Infographic.

Lessons learnt across different organisations

Over the years in working with organisations through The Change Compass, I’ve noticed the following trends across different organisations when it comes to creating and using SVOC.

  • Change saturation can mean different things to different stakeholders.  This reflects on the different parts of change management focus areas for organisations.  Some focus on the humanistic aspects of change for individuals.  This includes the personal experience and stress of change fatigue.  Others focus on the impacts of business performance and resourcing.
  • Some of the presented reasons for change saturation
    1. “Our employees tell us there is too much change”.  This needs to be carefully considered when providing feedback to senior managers.  Some could be skeptical of the feedback and respond with comments such as “there are always complaints about too much change”.  A balanced view including employee feedback as well as other business indicators would be advised.  For example, efficiency levels or absenteeism.
    2. Not adopting a change portfolio approach – Just seeing the risks and business problems with SVOC will not necessarily resolve the issues.  It is about making business decisions with the information that will create impact.
    3. Poor portfolio management – If this is the reason then most companies have poor portfolio management because change portfolio management is still in its infancy for most organisations.
    4. Responses of execs determine the outcomes – some still insist on persisting with change in the face of change saturation.  From what we have seen a lot of senior managers usually learn from the aftermath of change saturation before they will make decisions to avoid it in the first place.  Help your senior managers to understand the consequences and what it means to business data.  Of course, the more detailed data you can provide the more convincing your argument is going to be.
  • Because companies haven’t invested in people capability – Having better change capability can impact the way employees perceive and undergo the change journey.  More change mature teams tends to be able to absorb more and faster changes than those who are less mature.  However, change maturity takes time and investment to build and is not a lever that can be pulled overnight.
    • Not effectively setting expectations and agenda for what is coming.  Setting clear expectations is the first step. Without knowing what changes to expect the change outcome could be impacted.  However, this is only one part of the change equation.  Having achieved clarity of expectation is just the first step.  There are lots of other steps to take to create an effective change journey. 
    • External factors affecting the load of change may not be easily filtered by the organisation.  Lots of organisations are facing multiple impacts of change from different arenas, technology, regulations, competition, and other industry changes.  In many cases, the changes piled on top of each other creating a significant change load that cannot be easily moved out.  In this case, organisations need to be realistic about what can be achieved given this load of change.  Would investing in capability help to lift the ability to undergo a heightened change volume?  Can we package changes so that they are more streamlined and integrated, and thereby reducing cognitive load for impacted employees?

The role of change practitioners

Through using a SVOC change practitioners can play different roles in adding value to the organisation.

  • Change portfolio management:  Managing a portfolio from a change impact perspective is a role that can add significant value.  The benefits of adopting a portfolio approach can result in initiatives being harmonised.  From the user perspective, changes are better linked and grouped versus being isolated from each other.
  • Architecting and designing delivery:  With better alignment and synchronisation, initiative rollout can be better designed as a whole, with a convincing set of strategies and themes that make sense for impacted employees.
  • Executive consultation and influencing:  Armed with data it is much easier to influence senior executives.  The trick is to select the few data visualisations that tell the story of key risks to the organisation, and the size of the problems involved.  This also needs to be paired with recommended solutions.
  • Business change capability building – With SVOC change capability building is not just about rolling out generic skills, but targeted content delivered at the right junctures to equip the business with the right skills to be better equipped for a targeted set of changes

Next steps

Are you working on a SVOC?  Do you have questions? If you would like to talk to us to understand how others have fared in their SVOC journeys click the following button to book time.  We’re happy to share with you some of the tips and tricks in deriving SVOC.