Driving Value with Change Management Metrics

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Change Management today is an important discipline that when integrated well with Project Management, can ensure effective project delivery and realized benefits. Increasingly, the way we measure success via metrics is taking center stage. For Change Management practitioners, measuring successful adoption is not enough. Showing the measurable impact of Change Management in driving business outcomes is vital in elevating the value of Change Management.

What no one questions is the need to measure the value of change management. There are numerous studies proving that there’s a direct correlation between change management effectiveness and the gap between ROI expected and ROI delivered. The question is therefore how to measure the impact.

Table of Contents

The Complexity of Metrics

There are many ways to measure the impact of Change Management. Some commonly used metrics include user adoption, utilization, speed of adoption, perception surveys, training delivery, user competency, behaviors, etc. It can easily be overwhelming to decide what works best in your situation. It is also difficult to pinpoint a desired set of metrics without having a clear picture of the type of change and organizational context.

Success metrics essentially answer the question “what does success look like?”. This helps us understand how well business benefits are being realized, levels of employee engagement, and how successful Change Management interventions are.

To effectively unpack this, we will look at the scope in the following ways:

  • What does success look like from a Change Management perspective?
  • What does success look like from a Business perspective?

The ability to have a robust understanding of “success” from both perspectives and to connect the dots between the two, will allow us to deliver truly impactful value.

What does success look like from a Change Management perspective?

As Change Management practitioners, we typically measure the success of Change Management activities by measuring Tactical Effectiveness and Adoption Effectiveness.

Tactical Effectiveness

This refers to the efficacy of tactical Change Management activities that are delivered at various points across the project lifecycle. Examples of Change management activities include but are not limited to communications, stakeholder engagement, change agent deployment, training, and go-live support. Often, we deliver activities without assessing if it has been effective in achieving the objectives. There are many reasons for this; the various activities have always been done, are assumed to be beneficial or there simply was no time to assess the benefit.

This presents an opportunity to obtain ongoing feedback which can then be used to pivot and enhance future iterations of the activity. Tactical metrics might include post-training evaluation, communications pulse checks, and change agent network feedback.

Examples of Evaluation Methods and Corrective Actions for tactical Change Management activities:

Tactical Change Management Activities Assessment
Tactical Change Management Activities Assessment

Adoption Effectiveness

In contrast to Tactical Effectiveness which is measured after each activity, measuring the effectiveness of adoption typically takes place at the end of the project (or after each implementation).  The basic purpose of measuring adoption effectiveness is to assess if impacted stakeholders are performing in the future state in the desired manner.

Measuring adoption is fundamental as it is the basis of which value is created for the organization from any implementation.  Measured not only adoption alone, but this can also be measured by changes in competency and perception.

1. Adoption

Has the change been adopted? This accounts for basic metrics to assess if the change has been adopted post-implementation. Examples include the usage of a new system, process, or observation of new behaviors. This is especially important for changes that are “non-mandatory”, or where impacted stakeholders can fall back on existing ways of working.

2. Competency

How well the change has been adopted? This looks beyond basic adoption metrics and considers the competency or proficiency of adopting the change. For example, a new system with a high volume of user logins might not be considered successful if users are unable to use most of the features. Tracking of feature usage provides valuable insights on how well this change has been adopted. Another popular way of measuring proficiency is via analysis of post-implementation support data. A lack of proficiency would likely see a higher volume of support requests and query escalations.

3. Perception

How the change has been perceived? This measures the perceptions of stakeholders in a quantitative or qualitative manner. The goal of any transformation is to achieve specific business outcomes that directly or indirectly impact stakeholders. Stakeholder perceptions are indicators of whether the change has achieved its desired objectives. For example, employee engagement survey findings can provide insights into several areas including organizational effectiveness, work processes, culture, leadership, change pacing, and communications.

Table of Change Management Adoption Effectiveness Assessment Questions
Adoption Effectiveness Assessment Questions

Measurement metrics in the above areas will provide a robust overview of the success of Change Management activities. However, additional value can be added from the analysis of these data points. The data will be used to develop corrective actions that can drive post-implementation sustainment of the change. All insights and actions will then feed into the larger Change Management strategy and plan.

Measuring Success through Change Management Metrics Examples

To provide context, three system-related examples are provided below: 

1. Adoption

Low volume of user logins – This might indicate that users lack awareness of the change, are unable to perform the basic log-in functions, or are not incentivized to embrace the change. This could be an operational risk if there is a point in time where all users must use the new system but are unaware or unable to use it.

Example of Change Management Corrective Actions:

Communications and Engagement: Update the communications plan to drive awareness messages, re-engage various management stakeholders to drive new behaviors. Training: Provide additional training to ensure users are able to perform the basic log-in functions.

2. Competency

High volume of support queries and compliance findings – This might indicate that while users have adopted the new system, they are not particularly competent in using it. This could also be an operational risk if systemic mistakes lead to compliance, regulatory, or safety issues.

Example of Change Management Corrective Actions:

Training: Provide reinforcement or on-demand training, disseminate self-help material such as user guides or cheat sheets.

3. Perception

Poor Employee Engagement survey results – Engagement results, when analyzed carefully, can provide useful insights on the impact of change. For example, assessing specific questions related to the change (e.g., work processes, technology, work culture, etc.) while zooming in on specific segments can highlight valuable insights on perceptions of the change. Qualitative feedback could also provide further granularity on the actual issues.

Example of Change Management Corrective Actions:

Engagement: As it is with managing resistance, it is important to deep dive to better understand the drivers of the data in question. If the engagement scores are indeed driven by the transformation, it is often useful to re-look the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Plan, to re-engage impacted stakeholders.

Ruler in White

What does success look like from a Business perspective?

The true value that Change Management practitioners bring to the table is the ability to connect Change Management benefits to overall project and business objectives.

While objective and measurable metrics are typically defined based on the Business Case, having the business acumen to connect the dots is important to elevate the Change Management discipline beyond user adoption numbers. Understanding success criteria at a business level requires a good understanding of the drivers for change, which can then be translated into success criteria and measurement parameters. Also, an often forgotten but vital area to measure is the baseline, in order to show progress and effectiveness.

4 Steps to developing Change Management Metrics

Broadly speaking, business metrics can be developed in the following steps:

  1. Identify the desired business outcomes, also known as the “why” or drivers for change – Why are we doing this?
  2. Identify the success criteria and value to achieve the outcomes, or the “how” – How do we intend to achieve this?
  3. Identify the metrics to measure the progress, or the “what” – What do we need to see to show progress?
  4. Measure the baseline, to align on the current performance of the organization (this will also ensure that the proposed metrics are indeed measurable with available and extractable data)

Linking business metrics to change management metrics

Details of business metrics can often be obtained from various project documentation including the project charter, business case, project management plan, benefits plan, etc. This can be complemented with interviews or conversations with key project stakeholders including the project sponsors, project managers, decision-makers, etc.

Examples of Business metrics that are derived from Business Outcomes:

Table of Metrics tied to Success Criteria
Table of Metrics tied to Success Criteria

Note: Business metrics are typically defined by the Project team and not the Change team. However, it is equally important for the Change Management practitioner to have an appreciation of the desired business benefits from the change. This way they can ensure that the Change Management metrics measured can be connected to the business benefits being measured. If users are not adopting the change in the future state, they will be unable to unlock the desired business benefits. When Change Management metrics complement business metrics, powerful insights can be drawn when tracking performance. Change Management practitioners must be able to see this link and the interdependencies in order to highlight the value of Change Management.

Conceptually, the diagram below shows how both Change Management and Business metrics contribute to the overall desired outcomes:

Business Outcomes Chart
Business metrics and Change Management metrics are linked

Summary – Tying it all together

Metrics to measure successful adoption can no longer be a stand-alone set of measurements.

When Change Management metrics complement business metrics, powerful insights can be drawn when tracking performance.

By looking at these metrics holistically and complementing both Change Management and Business viewpoints, we can obtain valuable and enriching insights that provide a clearer narrative and analysis of root causes. This then helps the overall project make informed decisions on how to adjust its tactics and take the corrective actions necessary to ensure project success.

This article was written by Edwin Koh

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