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Data Driven Change Management

Oct 25, 2023
LeAnn Ragusa
Sheri Bankston
Kristen White

Learn from our team how to implement a data-driven change management strategy by collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to identify gaps between the current and desired states.


LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you, Astrid. All right. So, as Astrid said, my name is LeAnn Ragusa. I'm an associate director here at EisnerAmper, and I'm pleased to speak with everybody today about change management. I've been involved in project management and change management for several years now, and I'm excited to talk to you about the foundational elements of how change management works and how to execute on change strategies. So, we do have some learning objectives that we would like to accomplish today. We want to make sure that you're able to interpret the meaning of strategic change. We want you to be able to identify organizational and individual change barriers. We want you to be able to understand the impact of digital transformation. Help you understand how to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data in order to formulate a successful change strategy. Identifying smart key and change indicators, also known as KCIs, and we will talk about those later on in the presentation. To ensure successful implementation of your change strategy. And then finally, analyzing those KCIs in order to measure success.

So, let's go ahead and talk about strategic change and what that really means. When we're talking about strategic change, we're talking about a change or changes to important features of an organization's business. So, oftentimes it's not uncommon for us to think about change as this isolated moment in time, this one-time event where a change occurs, we address the change and then we move on. But really and truly, we are in a rapidly evolving marketplace. And so, it's important to think of strategic change as a living, breathing, ongoing process rather than a one-time event. We're going to talk about this in a little bit, but we are all working in an ever-changing marketplace, and in order for us to maintain the pace of those changes we're going to have to assess the need for strategic change on an ongoing basis in order to stay successful and in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.

So, let's talk about that a little bit. There are so many different influences that can trigger the need for an organization to go through some sort of strategic change. Maybe that's organization wide, maybe that's within a department, maybe that's with a team, but whatever the case may be, there are so many different triggers and influences. We could probably spend a week just talking about that alone. For the purpose of today's conversation, we boiled this down to four different cases for change that we feel are the most prominent and what every business is typically seeing whenever they're assessing whether or not they need to go through some sort of strategic change.

So, to start off, we have an increase in revenue. It's no secret that the ultimate goal of every organization is to increase revenue, increase those profits, increase the profit margins. And without strategic change to keep you relevant in the marketplace, it's going to be really difficult to keep up with your competitors which segues us into the next point, which is competitive edge and competitive pressures. So, there was a survey that was conducted about a year ago, and in that survey 41% of respondents selected competitive pressure as the main reason that a change was necessary in their organization. So, today we're noticing that businesses are getting more creative, finding more interesting ways to make impressions with their customers, trying to accommodate customer needs, especially since the customer base is rapidly evolving, which we'll talk about in just a moment.

And so, it's incredibly important to stay relevant amongst your competitors so your brand is still recognized in the marketplace. Keeping an eye on that competition and their strategies and what they're doing to get ahead is going to be really necessary to help you stay ahead of the curve. So, because of the pressures for increasing revenue and those competitive pressures, it's said that nearly 80% of businesses need to adapt every two to five years to survive. And I think it's important to note here that the word I said is survive. This does not mean they're thriving, this does not mean they're getting ahead. This just means that they're surviving and keeping their head above water. I imagine too, as we continue to have more technology advancements and continue to see changes in how organizations operate, that timeframe will probably be reduced to a smaller window just because, again, this change process should really be thought of as an ongoing living, breathing process.

Changes in customer needs. So, I would be interested to know how many of you have experienced a change in your customer base that's notable during and after COVID-19. COVID-19 really was just an incredibly unprecedented change and it really accelerated how the customers are changing. The customer behavior is changing because, now more than ever, there is limitless information and resources available at the customer's fingertips. And the customer is being more educated these days, they have more access to education about products and services that they need. They also expect our products and services to be highly customizable in today's workplace environment. So, this customer base changing is definitely going to require organizations to constantly pivot and rethink what they're doing, and that is probably going to require some sort of strategic planning.

Evolution and growth just is going to be part of these different business cases for change I just mentioned. Increased revenue, competitive edge, and an evolving customer need. So, now we're at the point where we're really talking about growth opportunities within an organization. So, anytime that you're growing, because you're addressing all these cases for change, you're going to experience growing pains. A growing organization is going to need more talent, it's going to need more resources. You may need to look at your technology platforms and make sure that you have the appropriate technology solutions to accommodate the growth. And so, it should be noted that evolution and growth are not possible without change. Change is just a necessary part of sustaining a growing business. All right. So, this brings us to our second polling question. Astrid, back to you.

Polling Question #1

LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you so much, Astrid. And while we're waiting on those polling responses to come through, I do see a question in the chat so I'm going to take a brief moment to address that. As a leader, how do I influence my team to be more receptive to change? First of all, kudos to you that you're even thinking about how to get your team more acclimated to change and receptive to change. And so, I would say that when you're thinking about change management, change management is all about the people side of change. And so, to influence change you really have to take care of your people.

So, what does that mean? That means that you're educating your team or your organization about why a change is even being put forth in the first place. What is going to be accomplished from that change, what are the objectives? Make sure that the change process is clearly communicated. Make sure there's resources available. We'll talk about this a little bit more, but make sure that there's resources available to help them navigate that change successfully. And also make sure that you're fostering a healthy work culture and a healthy work environment. A team that feels supported and valued is far more likely to be receptive to change than a team that maybe feels like they're not supported and that this change is going to just be a chore for them. So, Astrid, I'll turn it back to you.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you, Astrid. And it looks like we've got a pretty, decently evenly split amongst the different change barriers that people face. It looks like poor communication is the most common one, which is interesting because that's actually something I'm going to talk about here in just a moment because we're going to be talking about barriers to change. So, I'm going to go ahead and move to that part of the presentation now. Okay. So, we understand the business case for change, we just talked about all of that. But implementing the change can present considerable challenges and barriers. You're going to face roadblocks or obstacles whenever you are trying to implement a change. So, again, we could probably talk about barriers for a week or longer, but for today's discussion we boil that down to what we think are the five most common barriers to change that an organization would face.

So, number one would be lack of clarity. You cannot work towards a goal that you do not understand, or that your team doesn't understand. So, this means that you need to take the time to clearly define the strategic change that you're trying to accomplish so that you can make sure that everybody is working to achieve the same objectives. Getting everybody to sing from the same sheet of music, if you will. Number two, a lack of accountability. Without accountability, you are going to risk your team reverting back to the old way of doing things, even if the old way of doing things wasn't successful or wasn't efficient. So, by making sure that you're holding people accountable and making sure that people have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, you're going to be more likely to have a successful change initiative.

Number three is poor communication. And so, that ties into that polling question we just saw. I would say probably the most common barrier to change is poor communication. And it's so preventable, but it's something that happens so often. Ongoing and transparent communication is absolutely key to ensure that any change strategy is successful. So, this means that your team should be readily receiving ongoing communications about the progress of a change strategy, any achievements, any milestones that you need to look forward to accomplishing. If you have to deviate from your change strategy and reorganize your approach, you're going to need to make sure that those adjustments are clearly communicated to your team.

And I alluded to this a moment ago in the prior slides, but communication also should come in multiple formats. So, a lot of times when we think about communicating a change to a team, we think about having a meeting. And meetings are great, meetings are very necessary, but you should also make sure that you're documenting guidance and writing, making sure that there's helpful guides, procedures, and other materials available that are current, accurate and readily accessible that your team can access at any time. Training is critical, ongoing training is critical. All of these different methods of communication are going to help ensure that your change strategy is on track and that you're meeting your objectives.

Number four is insufficient resources. So, your change strategy is going to be at risk if you don't have the resources available to accomplish a change. And resources can be more than just people. You could have a lack of resources in the sense that maybe you have people, but they don't have the expertise in a certain knowledge area where you need them to have that information to be successful. This could be a lack of technology. Maybe you have insufficient technology to support whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish. Maybe it's a lack of procedural guidance that's coming from poor communication and you need more paper resources, if you will, documented resources, to be able to actually execute successfully on your change.

And number five is too many changes, which I almost feel silly saying because I realize I have said change over and over and over again in this presentation. Obviously that's the meat and potatoes of what we're talking about today, but there is a point where you reach change fatigue. If you're constantly chasing an ever moving target, you're likely to feel overwhelmed, your team is likely to get frustrated, you're likely not going to be able to focus effectively on whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish. So, you do have to be mindful that your change strategy doesn't have so many moving parts and so many changes in direction that your team won't be able to keep up with you.

So, in addition to these change barriers, there is also a human element to change that has to be taken into consideration, because even if you overcome these change barriers, you still have to overcome the human element of change. Humans are just naturally hardwired to resist change. The highlighted areas on the brain here on this slide actually showcase the areas of the brain that perceives change as a threat. So, there is an actual biological response where whenever we see a change or we perceive that a change is about to occur, there's some hormones that are released that trigger the body's fight or flight response. So, we start to think of this as survival mode, and it just makes it really difficult for us to embrace change as an opportunity. So, while that's true, while we're programmed to resist change, that doesn't mean that we can't overcome this obstacle and ultimately embrace change, as I mentioned, as an opportunity.

But in order to do this, we are going to have to employ some effective change strategies to make sure that your transition is as smooth as possible, make sure that your team is set up for success. So, that brings us to the point in the presentation where we want to talk about different change strategies and give you an overview of what that looks like. So, I'm going to pass the presentation over to my colleague, Kristen White.

Kristen White:

Thank you, LeAnn. And hello everyone. As LeAnn mentioned, my name is Kristen White. I've been with EisnerAmper for a little over a year now in change management. And I bring a background in marketing, which if any of you are in marketing, you know it's an ever-changing world of strategies and methods. So, with that, we'll dive into our overview of change strategies.

So, effective strategies help to answer questions like, why are we here, what do we want to achieve, and how do we do business? So, we'll start with traditional methods of change strategies. Focus groups, interviews and observations are all examples of these traditional methods of change strategies. One common denominator among all of these is people. Traditional methods are based on people relying on intuition and experience gathered from other people in, you guessed it, focus groups, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, those kinds of data gathering methods. So, with traditional methods, our current state assessments are qualitative based on observation with no numerical data to help measure where we are and where we want to go. So, with that we'll revisit the current state assessments in just a few minutes, but right now let's change our focus to digital transformation and how that plays a role in change strategies.

So, the process of digital transformation integrates digital technologies, such as those shown here, to create new or modify existing business processes, cultures and customer experiences. Digital transformation is not something we can ignore. It's all around us. It is inevitable. And we're in the digital age, so it touches everything from our processes to our culture. And while it can be overwhelming, it can be a great tool to help us identify and implement necessary changes throughout our organization. So, just for a moment, think about an expensive item that you had your eye on and you came across it in the store and it was on sale. Right now you have your smartphone to rely on to pull up customer reviews and compare pricing, and you can make an informed decision on the spot.

Whereas before cellphones and smartphones, what did you do? You had to research prior to ever going in the store. You didn't want to be tempted, you wanted to know all about it. Am I about to have buyer's remorse? Well, that digital transformation with smartphones has changed that. So, in the business world with digital transformation, we don't have to work so hard to get that information. Instead, we can extract what we need to make the decisions about the business. So, for example, we can receive insight and resources to determine if our company is appropriately staffed or has a high turnover. Those internal resources alone can affect our overall culture and customer satisfaction. So, when we take the opportunity to incorporate digital transformation and tools to identify one necessary change, it can help to transform other areas of the business.

Now, data-driven change management goes beyond traditional change management because it involves data collection and analysis that help to identify where those changes are needed, and serve as a basis for decision-making. So, when you add data-driven change strategy to the traditional method, your expected results go from subjective to objective, because it's based on facts and the numerical evidence. Data always tells a story, and people are always more likely to be accepting of a change when there's data to back up the initiative. So, now that we touched on traditional and data-driven change management, let's shift gears to a current state assessment and what that looks like when you put these together.

So, here, when we look at implementing changes it usually begins with a current state assessment. So, earlier I talked about what an assessment would look like if it were solely based on traditional change methods. But when you incorporate both traditional and data-driven methods, it should look something like this and include both your team's experience and intuition along with facts from your data, which points directly to where a change is needed. Your assessment should identify where you are and where you want to go. So, when your current state assessment is complete, you should be able to answer these three questions. What is the desired outcome, what data affects the outcome, and what is the measure of success? Incorporating data to project the organization's future enables the change strategy to focus on critical issues, align with the goals of the business, and identify correct data points to measure success. And I'll pass it over to Astrid for our third polling question.

Polling Question #3

Kristen White:

Thank you, Astrid. While you guys are answering that, I'll look at one of the questions that has come up. What is the most effective way to communicate a change? Number one is, start with your audience. You want to tailor your message to your audience and make sure that you're speaking to the right people. Let's say, for example, you're trying to implement a change in customer service with that team and your message is geared towards your operations team. Well, your operations team doesn't work with clients every day. They don't know that world. So, your message needs to speak to your customer service team and what they do on a daily basis. You can also communicate through multiple mediums, because not everyone receives information the same way.

So, if you're trying to communicate a change effectively, be sure to set up in-person meetings or create different documentations that speak to your change, different training and resource materials. You need to be clear in your communication and you can always ask for feedback. So, once you've expressed what you want your change initiative to be in your organization, ask for feedback on whether you were clear or not, or did your audience understand the initiative and the case for the change? So, those are some helpful ways to effectively communicate a change.

Kristen White:

Thank you. So, do you feel your organization manages change well. The majority answered yes. That is great. We love to hear that. That's where we are every day, so I'm glad to hear that you guys are doing that correctly in your companies. All right. So, let's shift gears to types of data. There's qualitative and quantitative, and we've all heard of these. Let's dive in a little bit. So, we all collect data, we assess the situation, we consider the number of times we tried a different approach and what might work well, or what doesn't work based on different circumstances. But the bigger question is, what kind of data are we using in analyzing? Quantitative data is measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality. It's countable, it's measurable, it answers how many, how much, how often. And then there's qualitative data which is measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity. It's interpretive and descriptive and answers why, how or what happened.

So, think about the last time you made a change, whether personally or professionally. Did you rely solely on data, or based on how you felt or thought about what needed to be changed? And it is possible to rely solely on quantitative or qualitative data, but your decision isn't going to be as informative. It's helpful to have as much information as possible to make what we think would be the right decision or change. So, a data-driven change strategy involves collecting and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data.

So, let's talk about data. But what are the benefits? You'll see three highlighted here. Increased productivity, better customer service, and improved decision making. And these aren't all the benefits, but for the purpose of today's discussion we wanted to highlight these, because we all want efficiency, we all want productivity, and we all want excellent customer service. But the thing is, if you can't measure productivity or customer service, how can you improve it? That's where data comes in. Data takes out the guesswork in making these decisions. So, when you implement traditional and data-driven change strategies, making the decision for a change and overcoming these change barriers that LeAnn talked about, is a lot easier because it's based on experience and factual data. The traditional and data-driven change strategies must compliment one another in order to make an informed decision.

And I'm not sure who has heard of Peter Drucker, but for those of you who aren't familiar with him, he is an author, a consultant, educator, and he's most commonly known for his quote of, "What gets measured gets managed." Which was later interpreted as what gets measured gets done. So, in other words, when you have something to measure, you have something to keep in focus. The end game is implementing the change with the steps you take to make that change, no matter how big or small, or what you use to measure and adjust accordingly to get it done. All right, Astrid, it looks like we've got another polling question.

Polling Question #4

Kristen White:

Thank you, Astrid. While you are answering that, I'll refer back to another question that has come through. This is a great one. What do I do if my change initiative fails? You always need to revisit your strategy if it fails. That's normal, could be normal. Figure out what went wrong through your data analysis and why. And when you can answer these questions, you can adjust your strategy to specifically address those items. See if your long-term goals and objectives make sense. Are they smart? And Sheri will talk more about smart goals in just a few moments. And always go back to your audience. Did you tailor your message to your audience? So, those are all ways you can go back and help your change strategy if it fails.

Kristen White:

Thank you. And with that I'm going to pass it over to Sheri to discuss key change indicators.

Sheri Bankston:

Thanks Kristen. Good to be here today with you guys. My name is Sheri Bankston. I've been with EisnerAmper for a little bit better over a year, I think since last July. And I'm here to talk about key change indicators. I am a self-professed data nerd, so obviously this is going to be my favorite thing to speak about today. So, let's just roll on in. Key change indicator. So, what is that? Most of us on the call here are familiar with key performance indicators, and those are simply a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective. So, when you think of a key change indicator, just think of a KPI for change because that's what it is. We're going to use these indicators to measure the success of the change. So, these are going to tie back to your specific initiatives in the change plan to measure how the project's going.

So, they provide targets for us to shoot for, milestones to gauge progress, and then they give us insight, which is probably the most important thing that you'll gain from these KCIs. So, as Peter Drucker stated, "What gets measured gets managed," and change is no different. What we're really after here is that specific insight that is going to help us determine what things are going well and really most importantly, why they may not be going well. Hopefully that's not the case then. So, some of the benefits of using KCIs as part of your strategic change plan, they provide a standard with which to compare current performance. I think Kristen alluded to this earlier when she talked about how do you know where you're going if you don't know where you are? And that is the utmost importance when you're implementing change. How do you know where you're going to go if you can't identify where you are?

They allow you to set goals and develop techniques to achieve strategic objectives. So, by utilizing these KCIs, you can set specific goals and objectives that need to be SMART. We'll talk about that in just a moment. And finally, they demonstrate whether you and your team are reaching performance goals. So, the ability to measure the success of the change is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, you can use the metrics, like we said, to tell if we're meeting objectives. But more importantly, if your KCIs are smart, you'll be able to pinpoint exactly why something is working, so that maybe you can repeat it in the future, or why something may not be working. At which case you will know exactly where to go in your strategic plan and where to pivot to ensure success.

All right. SMART. SMART goals. A lot of us have these tied to our performance evaluations maybe when we're setting goals for the next year, we want to make sure they're specific, measurable, achievable, they're realistic or relevant. Relevance is key, especially when it comes to strategic change, and time bound. So, you'll notice that I misread the A in a SMART KCI. It needs to be assignable. And that is very, very important. We talked about this earlier, that it needs to be assignable to someone who can hold others accountable.

So, who is that individual in your organization? So, when you're crafting your strategic change plan, think about who in your organization can do that. It'll be someone who is a decision maker, somebody who has the authority to execute on these change objectives. Somebody who provides leadership. So, they have these leadership skills, but they're also viewed in the organization as a leader, someone who can affect that change. And finally, most importantly, can hold others accountable. So, this person has to have the ability to be able to affect that type of change, if they see that they're veering off course, they can reel everybody in, hold them accountable.

Now, this is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, in the change management world, we call these people our change champions. So, you may know somebody like that. They thrive on change, that's your change champion. But I want to point out that when it comes to the assignability of a SMART KCI, it's not about blame, about saying, oh, you're the reason this didn't happen. It is specifically so we can have that cheerleader, that person who's going to rally everyone, rally the troops and enact that change. So, I want to preface this slide by saying there's no one size fits all approach. I've been through lots of different trainings, I've seen a lot of different programs, and what I've learned through my years of experience is that you gain this knowledge and use what you can that is specific for your situation.

Same thing with KCIs. I'm going to give you a list of typical change management KPIs, but you have to be careful when you're crafting your strategic plan to select those that are relevant. We talked about SMART KCIs and relevance, that becomes very, very important to help make sure that you achieve those objectives. First of all, we've got team performance objectives, organizational performance objectives or indicators, change communication. I think LeAnn spoke a lot about communication and importance of communication. And then training. So, what does some of those metrics look like?

Well, on the team performance front, when you're assessing whether your change is effective, it may be what percentage of my employees are adopting the change. That could be measured maybe through the number of complaints received, not something we like to hear, but it does help to see how the change is going. The number of requests for technical support, we're going to talk a little bit about that in a minute. I'll give you a specific example. The percentage of employees who are satisfied with the change. And that's important, you want those little change champions at that level as well. Organizational performance, you may be looking at the number of changes successfully implemented, the percentage of productivity increase, the number of outcomes accomplished, client satisfaction. When it comes to change communication, this is all about how you're selling the change. How many emails went out, have you held any meetings? How many meetings have you held?

Now, we're talking about data here. So, how many people received the message? There are platforms that can provide that information to you so that you can analyze and see who's actually opening these things, who's getting the message. The percentage of stakeholders who know the reason for the change. I want to speak about that for a second, because people who know the reason for the change are more apt to adopt the change. So, you want to be transparent with the strategic plan. That's going to tap right into that part of the brain that we talked about that's the fight or flight response. People know the reason why, it helps quell their fears. Percentage of employees who provided feedback.

So, we're always looking for that feedback. Feedback means adoption, may not get the feedback we want, but at least we're getting people who are on board with the change or at least trying things out. And then training. So, there's a lot of metrics that are available through training platforms, learning management systems. I have a little bit of background in that, so I know all of the data that can come from those platforms. Very, very valuable. But one of the things you can look for are the number of training events organized by the company. How many offerings do you have out there, that will be your face-to-face. The percentage of employees who attended those training programs. That could be obtained through sign-in sheets if you're doing a face-to-face. If you have a learning management system, you can get that data straight from the system. And the number of new skills and knowledge learned by employees during the training sessions. That can also be measured in the learning management system through evaluation of the data that's available in those systems.

Now, before I go into a specific example, let's talk about the importance of monitoring KCIs, because what I've seen a lot is people select key performance indicators, they select them and then they don't know what to do. Monitoring becomes very, very important because you're going to set goals for those KCIs, you're going to set targets, and then you're going to evaluate regularly and frequently against that change strategy. So, you have to know what you're looking for. You're going to use those results to identify when the adjustments are needed, if adjustments are needed, maybe things are going great. If they are, keep doing what you're doing. That's that stop start continuous assessment. Maybe you'll have one of those. But more importantly, if you look at a KCI, doesn't look like what you want it to, you may need to select a different metric. You may need to change the goal of the particular metric that you've selected.

So, this is all about evaluation and review. The E and the R. And those, evaluation and review, you can use that time to make your metrics smarter. So, with that in mind, let's go ahead and look at an example. So, in this particular example that I've chosen, we're doing a technology implementation. I think most of us probably throughout our careers have been through several of these. It's inevitable, we're in the digital age, we've talked about that. We have changes left and right. We've got Bill Gates over there who's got his people. They're not working on the next computer that we're going to be using, they're working on the one after that, or maybe even the one after that. So, we're all doomed to spend money because there's improvements beyond the improvement. So, we have to be able to adapt to change.

But this particular company that I'm speaking of, it's a fictitious company, they were using outdated software. They traditionally have enjoyed being industry leaders and they lagged on adopting the latest technology. So, what they found in a comparison of their metrics against the industry, that they were falling short on the time on tasks. So, it was taking their people longer to complete tasks that could be completed with greater ease with industry technology that's out there now. They saw this negatively impact their revenue numbers. So, they assembled a change management team. They all go around the drawing board. They get this great idea, we're going to implement this new industry standard software. How are we going to get people on board?

And they lined out, they did that current state assessment, they did, where do we want to go. And the metrics that they decided to use were these key change indicators to determine whether people were adopting, number of requests for technical support, percentage of productivity increase, which is directly tied to that revenue number. That's really a KPI too. Percentage of stakeholders who know the reason for the change. I purposely selected that one so I could talk a little bit more about that. And then the percentage of employees who attended the training programs.

So, let's see how they did. Obviously they set their goals. They weren't sure what to expect for technical support, but they were hoping to get maybe 50 to 100 by the time they started, did their first monitoring. Organizational performance, they were going to look at how did we do compared to where we want to go. The percentage of stakeholders who knew the reason for the change, this is part of that change communication plan. And then they also were going to look at the percentage of employees who attended training programs. So, let's see how they did. This is at the first interval where they decided to monitor those KPIs, or the KCIs.

They had 73 requests for technical support, in line with what they were hoping for. It can be scary to see numbers that big, but when I look at that number, I feel good about it. I feel like 73 people were deep enough into this new technology implementation that they had questions. So, questions equal at least attempt at adoption. So, I would say that when you're looking at the questions, don't just look at the number, look at the types of questions. Why? Because that can tie into maybe where you may need to do some kind of change to the training that you're providing. The productivity increase, I'm going to go back to that one. The percentage of stakeholders who know the reason for the change. In this instance, only 48% of the people knew the reason for the change. So, that is an area that leadership should really focus on when they're implementing these changes. People don't know the reason why, that translates into fear.

I've been on both sides of change. I've been on the side where I'm enacting change and I've been on the side where I'm receiving change. And both of those require trust, a trust relationship. So, 65% on the training front, 65% had taken the training programs. The question there is why only 65%? We've offered, why aren't they attending? It could be a whole host of reasons. And I'm going to go back to that productivity increase. It was a 18% dip. This is scary and discouraging, but with the technology implementation, people are just learning the software. So, there may be a little bit of dip in the numbers before you see them climb back up to where you want it to be. So, that's not really unexpected. So, just keep that in mind if you're doing a technology implementation.

So, what if the team decide, they looked at the numbers, it's not just enough to look at them in isolation, you want to look at how these relate to one another. So, like I said, looking at the training numbers, who attended those training programs? Why didn't they attend? That makes you go back to your communication plan and say, did we not communicate enough? You may want to look at scheduling. We've scheduled face-to-face communication. We've got customers that we have to serve. So, there was some conflicts there. So, what the team did was they made some changes. They beefed up the training to address some of the specific questions that were asked during the request for technical support. They did a communication blitz, a campaign targeted, using multiple methods to get the word out. They had some mandatory meetings, they had some emails, they had some infographics that they put out. And what they found the next time that they looked at their metrics if they're making these... Now, we're talking about changes to the strategic change plan at this point. Round two, let's go see how they did.

Okay. We had a decrease in the number of requests for technical support. Again, you want to look at those numbers and say, okay, well, we addressed it in the training program, why are we still getting questions? Well, maybe it's a different set of questions. So, again, you have to look at all of these things in relation to one another. Change communication, 88%. This is positive. Their communication campaign worked. 88% of people knew the reason why, which translated into, we are on board, we support you, we want to be a champion for this change. And the 95% rate of employees. What they did in the training, they offered more in-person. Some people prefer in-person, it just all depends. But they also offered some recorded sessions, and that allowed people to take that, the people that couldn't make it to those in-person, they were able to go and take those online. So, they had a greater turnout.

What did this translate into for productivity? 42% increase. Now, this is from the previous. We've still got this target out there of an overall increase, say 50%, 75%. We're moving up. Again, we're going to follow this up with another round of monitoring. But overall, I would give this company a good grade on implementing their strategic change initiatives. So, with that in mind, that's how the numbers work. So, again, a couple of key points, just want to reiterate, don't look at them in isolation. These things all relate to one another and they should tie back to your plan. And remember, when you select the metrics, select technology that will allow you to extract that data. In the digital age we have access to data. Harness that power and use it to your advantage and you'll see some positive results from that, and it will make sure that you are reaching that future state that you desire. So, with that in mind, I'm going to pass this on back to Astrid for our polling question number five.

Polling Question #5

Sheri Bankston:

Okay. Looking at the chat, we've got a few questions here. I'm going to select my favorite one that I'm seeing here. It's about KCIs. So, what does it mean if the key change indicators are in line with target outcomes, but I'm not noticing that my overall strategic change objective is being met? Looks like we're off course. So, we kind of saw this in the example where productivity dipped. Well, first of all, let's go back to the evaluation and the monitoring. So, you're going to evaluate and review your SMART KCIs At that point, you want to make them smarter. Again, the advantage of having this data is that we spend less time compiling data and more time analyzing the data. And when we have that power of data analytics, we can make informed decision making. So, I would say that's the first step.

But you want to revisit the targets you set for your KCIs. So, it may be that you set the target too low and while you're meeting your KCI for the change itself, you've set it too low, which means it's too easy to meet. Thinking about our example, if you set a KCI for 10 help desk inquiries, looks like check the box, we got 10. But you're not seeing that change be affected. So, it's not truly an indication of the overall change. So, what you may want to do is revisit the KCI instead of looking at that particular KCI. Well, on that KCI, you may want to increase it and say more inquiries equal success, but you also want to revisit the KCIs themselves. And instead of measuring the number of training events that you are offering, because that doesn't really indicate who's attending, you may want to take a look at the number of employees who attended the training.

So, that may paint a more realistic picture of adoption. So, again, don't look at them in isolation, make sure that you're looking at the data behind it, what the data means, the interpretation of the data. So, with that in mind, no one size fits all approach. That's why the monitoring is critical. And I'm going to throw this one back to Astrid. Thanks so much.

Sheri Bankston:

All right. Are you ready to incorporate KCIs into your daily operations? Some of you are already utilizing them, some of you would like to. And so, these are good. This is data for me. So, we're going to take this data, we're going to analyze this data, and if you're interested we'll get in touch with you and see how we can help. Let's wrap it all up. We've got some key takeaways from today's presentation that I'd like to leave you with. And then we're going to go into a Q&A session. First of all, change is inevitable. If it wasn't inevitable, none of us would be on this call right now looking at each other through computers. We would still be rolling around rocks and maybe not even have the wheel. Maybe we wouldn't even be eating sliced bread. So, we're all used to change.

Digital transformation has been a game changer. Just the number of changes in my lifetime, which has been really short, maybe 20 years, it's been a game changer in all areas. That was a joke, by the way. I'm not 20. Traditional change strategies are no longer sufficient by themselves. So, it's not that they're not effective, but why would we leave behind the data with the power that it offers us? So, I'd say data-driven change strategies can be leveraged to implement change. Let me correct that. Should be leveraged to implement change.

With data stories you can sell that concept to your people. People remember these stories. They may not remember the data itself, but they remember the message that it sends. So, remember that. Turn your data into a story. KCIs measure success. Use them to your advantage. That is your secret weapon in a strategic change plan. And I would argue, and I think most probably would agree, your organization's success is directly tied to your ability to successfully implement change. Who knows a successful organization who's still working on an old computer, or maybe not even a computer, doing it by hand? Those who are able to adopt change and successfully adopt that change are the ones who are the differentiators in their market. So, with that in mind, I'm going to pass it on back to Astrid. We'll open up the floor for some questions and we will move forward. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you, Astrid. First of all, we've got some great questions in the chat. I'm loving these. I'm going to go a little out of order, because there's one question that seems directly tied to the example we just walked through. So, Sheri, this may be a good one for you to answer. Any thoughts on getting stakeholders to collaborate by being part of the process? That doesn't seem reflected in these KCIs, in that example, which are all post change, measuring questions, productivity, understanding decisions that somebody made, and training attendance.

Sheri Bankston:

I do think that stakeholder involvement is an important part of the process. So, the people who, for example, with the technology implementation, the people who are actually performing the job are the ones who are closest to the work. So, I do think that stakeholder involvement is important and you can see through some of these metrics, again, these are not one size fits all metrics. So, you would look at your specific situation, see where those opportunities are to involve those stakeholders and bring them on in. Because we all know that when people are invited to the table, you're more apt to obtain that buy-in. Those are your change champions. So, embrace that relationship with those people who are on the front lines, who are really largely responsible for the revenue that your company is enjoying, and get to know them, get to know their processes and bring them in, in that process. So, yes, I would definitely embrace that approach.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you, Sheri.

Sheri Bankston:

Back to you, LeAnn.

LeAnn Ragusa:

I appreciate it. I have another question here that kind of piggybacks on the question just asked, so I'll get your opinion and then, Kristen, I'd like to get your opinion as well. So, the question is, it's difficult to enlist the support of leadership when they can't agree on strategic objectives. As a change agent, how would you handle this obstacle? Sheri, what are your thoughts?

Sheri Bankston:

I'm going to go back to data stories. So, a lot of the lack of buy-in has to do with not being informed. So, embrace the power that you have to extract data. Build your data stories, tell the story of why the change is important. And I had the opportunity to take a writing class, think about who your audience is when you're trying to sell that strategy. You're going to speak different language to different people. So, if you are speaking to someone at the top, maybe the CEO, you may want to talk about revenue. If you are speaking to maybe a mid-level manager, you may talk about productivity metrics. So, just make sure that you pull the data, it's got to be relevant, and speak to that data. Hopefully that's answered the question. I'll turn it back to you or Kristen, whoever else wants to weigh in on that.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Kristen, do you have any additional thoughts?

Kristen White:

Yeah. I completely agree with Sheri. You have to be able to present your case for the change. Clearly, if you're seeing a need for it and you're looking at some kind of qualitative or quantitative data, and if you have both, that can back up your case. Then hopefully that makes your initiative a little bit easier to explain and present to leadership.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Thank you so much. We have time for about two more questions and then we'll wrap up. One of them here is, how do I get in touch with you to learn more about change management services at EisnerAmper? So, the good news is there is a change management email. That email is That's P as in Paul, N as in Nancy, C as in cat, P as in Paul, A as in apple, .com. And last one, to what extent should the strategic plan be connected to the budgeting process and the KPI heuristics? Thoughts, Sheri?

Sheri Bankston:

Well, it definitely needs to be connected, particularly when you're looking at revenue. And so, you've got this desired future state. Budgets are built on those types of discussions. So, you want to make sure that the KCIs, the KPIs, are definitely tied to that strategic plan. So, one of the things with KCIs is you figure out where your data is, and that's where you'd likely want to build that around. Now, with budgeting software, we're talking about KCIs, but if you think about KPIs, we look at those every year. As leaders we're looking at budgets, we're looking at those things.

And so, I would always encourage collaboration between the leaders of the company who may not, well, I don't want to say not involved in the change initiatives, but you'll have maybe a change management team who is maybe a sub of the leadership team or something like that. Get those two talking, because the more aligned the organization is, the more apt that you are to be successful. Not just in these KCIs, but ultimately we're developing KCIs to achieve overall strategic objectives. They're a stepping stone to making sure that those KPIs are achieved. So, I would say, should be connected. Final answer. Back to you, LeAnn.

LeAnn Ragusa:

Turn it to you, Astrid.

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LeAnn Ragusa

LeAnn Ragusa is an Associate Director in the firm’s Consulting Services Group and a member of the firm’s Change Management Team.

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