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 realised benefits. Increasingly, the way we measure success via metrics is taking centre stage. However, measuring successful adoption alone is not enough. Showing the measurable impact on business outcomes is in the key to elevating the value of Change Management.

Table of Contents

The Complexity of Metrics

There are many ways to measure the impact of Change Management: user adoption percentage, utilisation, speed of adoption, perception surveys, training delivery, user competency, behaviours, 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 organisational context.

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

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

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

A robust understanding of “success” from both perspectives and connecting 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 assess the success of Change Management activities by measuring Tactical Effectiveness and Adoption Effectiveness.

Tactical Effectiveness

This refers to how effective each Change Management activity being delivered at specific points across the project lifecycle are. These “activities” could be communication messages, stakeholder engagement sessions, trainings, etc.

Often, we deliver such activities without assessing if they have been effective in achieving their objectives. There are many reasons for this – those activities have always been performed, they are assumed to be beneficial, or there simply was no time to assess the benefit. Nevertheless, assessing these activities throughout the project presents an opportunity to obtain ongoing feedback which can then be utilised to pivot and enhance future iterations.

For example, if one of the change management activities were a training delivery, the Change Practitioner could conduct an end-of-day training evaluation. The results of the evaluation would yield a metric of Tactical Effectiveness, and a possible corrective action if the results weren’t positive could be to update the training approach for the following session.

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 as desired.

Measuring adoption is crucial because it forms the foundation for creating value within the organisation through any implementation. This measurement isn’t limited to adoption alone, it can also encompass 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. This is especially important for changes that are non-mandatory, or where the impacted stakeholders can fall back on existing or previous ways of working.

For example: If you consider a new system implementation, an adoption metric could include user login volume.

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: In the same system implementation scenario, perception metrics could include volume of post-go-live support calls or number of escalated queries.

3. Perception

How was the change perceived? This measures the perceptions of stakeholders in either a quantitative or qualitative manner. The goal of any transformation is to achieve specific business outcomes that directly or indirectly impact stakeholders. Thus, their perceptions indicate if the change has achieved its desired objectives.

For example: A quantitative perception metric could be the employee engagement rate. A qualitative example could be customer satisfaction.

Metrics in the above areas provide a robust overview Change Management success. However, additional value can be added from utilising the analysis of these metrics to develop corrective actions that can drive sustainment of the change post-implementation.

Just as corrective actions should follow each Change Management activity, as shown by Tactical Effectiveness metrics, corrective actions should also follow Adoption Metrics post-implementation. All insights and actions will then feed into the larger Change Management strategy and plan.

Let’s consider again an example of a new system implementation, specifically considering it post-implementation.

Remember, the change management process at large is to build, manage, and then sustain the change. That means you would have prepared your team for the new system and then managed its implementation, utilising change management activities and gathering feedback on Tactical Effectiveness along the way. Now, let’s consider how you could evaluate Adoption Effectiveness once the implementation is complete and the resulting corrective actions you could take to sustain the change.

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 must use the new system but are unaware or unable to use it.

Corrective Actions – Update the communications plan to drive awareness messages, re-engage various management stakeholders to drive new behaviours. 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.

Corrective Actions – 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 analysed 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.

Corrective Actions – 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 revisit the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Plan, to re-engage impacted stakeholders.

What does success look like from a business perspective?

The true value that Change Management practitioners bring to the table is their 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, which is crucial to demonstrate progress and effectiveness achieved.

4 Steps to develop business 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 in order to show progress?
  4. Measure the baseline to align on the pre-change performance of the organisation. This will ensure that the proposed metrics are tangibly measurable with available and extractable data. It also provides the ability to compare metric values from before, during, and after the change initiative in order to monitor progress.

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 workshops with key project stakeholders including the project sponsors, project managers, decision-makers, etc.

Examples of Business Metrics that are derived from Business Outcomes:

  • Number of leads generated
  • Lead-to-opportunity ratio (%)
  • Quote-to-close ratio (%)
  • Quote-to-close time
  • Customer retention ratio (%)

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 and achieve the overall desired business outcomes.

Business and Change Management Metrics

Tying it all together

Metrics to assess successful adoption can no longer be a stand-alone set of data.

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

By looking at these metrics holistically and complementing both Change Management and Business viewpoints, we can obtain rich insights that provide a clearer narrative and analysis of root causes. This then helps us make informed decisions on how to adjust our tactics and what corrective actions must be taken to ensure project success.

This article was written by Edwin Koh and MIGSO-PCUBED’s Change Management Community of Practice.

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