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2023 Data Trends and Insights, The Art of Change Management in Data-Driven Transformations: Insights from Keren Castelli, Head of Change Management at Devoteam G Cloud BE

Learn why change management is the key to data-driven success, how to get stakeholders engaged, and how to overcome the challenges of implementing a new data strategy

Keren castelli
Keren Castelli, Head of Change Management at Devoteam G Cloud Belgium

1. Why and when is Change Management an important part of a data project?

Change Management is the crucial ingredient for any organisation aspiring to become data-driven. Why? Because it involves transforming the culture of an organisation, which requires a human-centric approach. When you’re asking people to shift their mindset and embrace data as the driving force behind decision-making, you need a well-planned change management strategy to prepare the way. After all, change management is the people’s side of change.

Here are four compelling reasons why Change Management is essential:

  1. Managing Resistance: Whenever there is a change in an organisation, resistance is bound to surface. It’s how our brains are wired. However, with the help of change management, you can identify and address any potential sources of resistance. You can help stakeholders understand the benefits of the new strategy and the new way of working. By doing so, you can pave the way for a smooth transition.
  2. Ensuring Adoption and Success: Change Management can help ensure that employees understand how to use data to make impactful business decisions. It’s essential to provide them with the right training and support to make the most of the data at their disposal. Enabling adoption is critical from the very beginning of the project and continues once the project is over. It’s often overlooked, but it’s vital for the success of the project.
  3. Minimizing Disruption: A new data strategy can have a significant impact on business operations. Change Management can help identify any potential disruptions and mitigate their impact on day-to-day operations. By doing so, you can ensure that the business can still function effectively while reaping the benefits of the new data strategy.
  4. Maximizing ROI: Implementing a new data strategy can be a costly affair, and the return on investment may not be realised if the strategy is not adopted or if it disrupts business operations. Change management can help ensure that the new strategy is smoothly integrated into business processes, maximising the ROI. With change management, you can avoid expensive mistakes and ensure that the business derives the maximum benefit from the data strategy.

Using change management in a data project

Find out how Reprise Digital benefited from change management when deploying a marketing data platform on Google Cloud and Looker.

2. How can you identify the stakeholders impacted by the change and what are the best strategies to get them engaged? 

At Devoteam G Cloud, we believe that effective stakeholder management is the cornerstone of any successful project. That’s why we organise a comprehensive workshop with our clients to identify the key players in their hierarchy and structure. By doing so, we can create a detailed plan of action, outlining which individuals need to be informed and involved in the project for strategic reasons.

But that’s not all. We understand that effective change management is critical to the success of any project. That’s why we employ a highly effective concept – the use of ambassadors. These ambassadors are carefully selected from key individuals or users who will be directly involved in the project and will utilize the data and dashboards firsthand. They serve as a crucial link between the business and the project team, ensuring that the project team is always in sync with the business needs.

During the stakeholder workshop, we pay special attention to sponsorship and ambassadorship. We make sure to develop a program that defines their workload and responsibilities, and we carefully select ambassadors to ensure that they are the right fit for the job. These aspects are critical elements of the ambassador program.

3. What are the biggest challenges that businesses face in implementing the necessary change management to become data-driven, and how can they overcome these challenges?

Resistance and sponsorship are common challenges in change management. Without someone carrying the flag of the project internally, it is difficult to achieve change, especially in data projects where data governance is often lacking. Governance is a big hurdle that requires decision-making power to overcome. There is also the need for adequate counterparts within the company to support change management efforts. It is important to have someone within the company who can open doors, introduce the project team to the right people, and play the role of an internal change manager.

Without someone carrying the flag of the project internally, it is difficult to achieve change, especially in data projects where data governance is often lacking

Effective communication of the project’s benefits is also challenging. A strategic change management workshop can help to clarify the project’s “why” and the value it brings to individuals and the company as a whole. The workshop can also help to align the benefits of becoming a data-driven company with the overall company strategy. 

As a business, you can overcome these challenges by: 

  • Gaining leadership support: Change management requires strong leadership support. Leaders must understand the value of data-driven decision-making and be willing to support and invest in the necessary changes. They should also communicate the importance of the new approach to employees and stakeholders.
  • Providing adequate resources: A lack of resources can lead to failure in implementing a new data-driven approach. Companies need to ensure they have the necessary resources, such as funding, technology, and skilled personnel, to successfully implement the new strategy.
  • Communicating the benefits: It’s important to communicate the benefits of becoming data-driven to employees, stakeholders, and customers. This can help gain their support and buy-in, and make the transition smoother. It’s also essential to provide training to employees to ensure they understand the new approach and can use the new tools and systems (if applicable).
  • Addressing resistance: Resistance from employees is a common challenge in change management. As we start working on the change management plan, we should identify potential sources of resistance and proactively address them. This can include sending out a readiness survey, involving employees in the implementation process, addressing concerns, providing feedback and support to help employees adapt to the new data-driven culture.

4. What kind of ROI can businesses expect to see from investing in change management to become data-driven, and how can they measure and track this ROI?

If your data project is well deployed technically with a change management plan in place, you can expect the following outcomes: 

  • Improved decision-making: By using data to inform decisions, businesses can make more informed and accurate decisions, leading to improved outcomes and increased revenue.
  • Increased efficiency: A data-driven approach can help businesses streamline processes, eliminate redundancies, and reduce costs.
  • Enhanced customer experience: By analyzing customer data, businesses can gain insights into customer needs and preferences, leading to improved customer experiences and increased customer loyalty.
  • Increased competitiveness: A data-driven approach can help businesses stay ahead of competitors by identifying trends and opportunities before their competitors.

To measure the ROI of investing you can use various metrics such as:

  • Revenue growth: Tracking revenue growth can help businesses determine if the new data-driven approach is leading to increased revenue.
  • Cost savings: Tracking cost savings resulting from the new approach can help determine if the new approach is leading to improved efficiency.
  • Customer satisfaction: Measuring customer satisfaction can help determine if the new approach is leading to an enhanced customer experience.
  • Employee productivity: Tracking employee productivity can help determine if the new approach is leading to increased efficiency.
  • Time-to-market: Measuring the time-to-market for new products or services can help determine if the new approach is leading to increased competitiveness.

5. How do you see the evolution of data-driven technology and tools impacting the necessary change management that companies must implement, and how can businesses stay ahead of this evolution?

One of the most exciting changes is the increasing accessibility and user-friendliness of data-driven tools. This means that more employees can now leverage data in their day-to-day work, unlocking the power of insights that were previously untapped. However, this exciting development also presents a challenge for businesses. Companies must provide their employees with the necessary training and support to ensure that they can effectively use these new visualization tools.

Another significant impact is that data-driven technology is becoming more integrated into business processes, making it easier for companies to make informed decisions. With access to better data, businesses can now make more informed and strategic decisions, which can drive growth and profitability. However, to stay ahead of this evolution, businesses must prioritize ongoing training and development for their employees. Companies must be willing to adapt and rethink their existing processes and workflows to take advantage of new data-driven technologies and tools.

When it comes to onboarding, businesses must take a multi-faceted approach. This includes:

  1. Thinking about recurring trainings throughout the year to onboard new hires. 
  2. Planning in support/Q&A sessions with the new joiners shortly after their training
  3. Putting in place a mentor/buddy system to help them in the beginning to grasp the data driven culture that you want to achieve. We can create with you a mentor program to help mentors stay up to date with the new processes and stay inspired to inspire others. 

As companies become more data-driven, it is crucial to ensure that the data is accessible, and employees, particularly Millennials, have the autonomy to leverage it in their daily work. Ongoing training and development are essential to staying ahead of this evolution and ensuring that new employees are educated on data-driven practices. Change management can facilitate this process and help the company constantly reevaluate and improve existing processes to remain competitive. With the right approach, businesses can harness the power of data-driven technology to unlock growth and success.

6. How can businesses ensure that they are providing adequate training and support to employees as part of the necessary change management to become data-driven, and what are the associated risks and challenges with this?

When embarking on a new project, it’s essential to recognize that proper planning and execution require more than just analysis and strategy. The power of training must not be underestimated. This critical component involves assessing the current and desired skill sets of all parties involved in the project, from engineers to business personnel, to identify any training gaps that need to be addressed.

Take engineers, for example. They may need to learn how to use specific tools or software to execute their tasks efficiently. Meanwhile, business personnel might require training in data interpretation and storytelling to communicate the project’s impact effectively. Without proper training, these skill gaps can create roadblocks to progress and ultimately hinder the success of the project.

Sometimes, project sponsors may already have a firm understanding of their audience and their training needs. However, for larger organizations, it’s always a good idea to conduct a readiness survey to gather feedback on training requirements. By analyzing these results, the team can create a comprehensive training plan that addresses all gaps.

The training plan can include support sessions, Q&A sessions, and inspiration sessions designed to bring departments together to share their experiences and learn from one another. The team can also organize town halls, where everyone can come together to learn and celebrate progress.

Training is not just a box to check off on a project checklist. It’s a powerful tool that can help bridge gaps in skill sets and propel projects forward. By creating a comprehensive training plan, teams can ensure that everyone is equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to execute the project successfully.

7. What challenges can businesses expect to face in managing cultural change as part of the necessary change management to become data-driven, and how can they overcome these challenges?

The company’s culture is poised to shift as a result of increased autonomy and decision-making power being granted to employees. Such a change is likely to encounter resistance due to our natural tendency to resist change. To manage this resistance, it is crucial to take steps to promote data literacy and combat silo thinking, where departments make decisions based solely on their own data or gut feeling. This may cause some discomfort, but it’s important to recognize the benefits that a data-driven approach can bring. To overcome these challenges, it is necessary to communicate the benefits of the new approach, provide training, and foster a data-driven culture. This takes time and requires leadership to set an example. Sponsors for the project are also key, as they can help to communicate the value of the new approach to executives and management teams. Creating awareness and desire for change is important, and reinforcement is necessary to maintain buy-in throughout the process.

To overcome these challenges, businesses can take several steps:

  • Communicate the benefits: It’s essential to communicate the benefits of becoming data-driven to employees at all levels of the organization. This can help gain their support and buy-in for the new approach.
  • Provide training: Providing training on data literacy and the new tools and systems is essential to ensure employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively use data to inform decisions.
  • Create a data-driven culture: Creating a culture that values data and encourages its use in decision-making is critical to the success of a data-driven approach. This can include providing incentives for using data, promoting collaboration across departments, and breaking down silos. This is where we’ll add some gamification to make the process fun
  • Provide support: Providing support to employees during the transition to a data-driven approach can help alleviate resistance and frustration. This can include offering additional training, providing resources for troubleshooting, and celebrating successes.
  • Lead by example: Leaders must lead by example and embrace the new data-driven approach. This can help set the tone for the rest of the organization and encourage employees to adopt the new approach.

8. How can businesses ensure that they are effectively managing the transition to a data-driven culture, especially as it pertains to data literacy and data access?

At the heart of empowering users lies a fundamental understanding of where they currently stand. To truly unlock their potential, we must first assess their knowledge, using tools such as surveys, interviews, or assessments. Armed with this crucial insight, we can then chart a course towards a brighter future by implementing targeted trainings to enhance data literacy. With dedication and hard work, we can equip individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the modern world.

9. How do you ensure that data is being used effectively throughout the organization, and not just in isolated pockets?

The power of data is undeniable, but to harness it effectively, you must take intentional and comprehensive action. That’s why developing a data strategy is the crucial first step in unlocking the full potential of data across the organization. By outlining clear goals for data utilization, establishing a robust governance framework, and investing in the necessary tools and systems, you can ensure that data is being managed and utilized effectively.

But it’s not enough to simply have a strategy in place. To truly reap the rewards of data, you must create a culture that values its importance and encourages its use in decision-making. This means providing training on data literacy, incentivizing the use of data, and breaking down the silos that can hinder collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Centralizing data management is also critical. By investing in data management tools and systems, establishing governance policies and procedures, and creating a centralized data repository, we can ensure that data is accessible and being used effectively across the organization.

Finally, you must encourage collaboration between departments. By creating cross-functional teams to work on data-related initiatives and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration, you can ensure that data is being used effectively throughout the organization.

To truly reap the rewards of data, you must create a culture that values its importance and encourages the use of data in decision-making

10. What are some best practices for companies that are just starting their journey to become data-driven, and what advice do you have for them to ensure success in their change management efforts?

I’ve learned a thing or two from our experience, and I’m happy to share some of our best practices with you:

Start with a crystal-clear vision and strategy for how data can be used to achieve your business objectives. This means outlining your goals for data utilization, setting up a solid governance framework, identifying the necessary tools and systems to manage and leverage data, and creating a roadmap for implementation.

Next comes the real challenge: creating a culture that truly values data and promotes its use in decision-making. This may require providing training on data literacy, incentivizing data-driven decision-making, and breaking down silos between departments. And, to make the process enjoyable, we highly recommend incorporating some fun gamification techniques.

Remember, managing the transition to a data-driven culture is a continuous process. To ensure success, it’s essential to regularly assess and improve data literacy levels, data accessibility, and the overall data-driven culture within your organization. Keep evolving and improving, and you’ll soon see the rewards of your efforts in your business outcomes.

11. What is your change management approach and can you provide an example of how you use gamification to encourage engagement and adoption of the change?

The Six S’s are the focus of our change management approach. This methodology was created based on PROSCI’s ADKAR model. ADKAR stands for (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement). 

  • We begin by analyzing the impact of the changes the client wants to bring and conducting surveys to understand the readiness of the change. This is known as “spark the flame.”It is also in this phase that we assess training needs, and draft the change management plan. 
  • Next, we “sprinkle the joy” by recruiting ambassadors and implementing a program for them, including a kickoff event introduced by the project sponsor. We work with ambassadors throughout the project simultaneously with our data team. 
  • In parallel, we work on spreading the word through a communication plan and branding the project to increase awareness. We leverage all your communication channels to make sure we reach our target audience. 
  • “Steering the people” involves training based on the identified training needs. 
  • “Sparkle” showcases the value of the change through town halls and gamification. 
  • Finally, “spring to the future” focuses on sustainability, onboarding and transforming the company’s culture.

To illustrate this approach, we have launched a contest where participants from different departments were required to create two dashboards within a specific time frame, and those who complete the task will be entered into a raffle for a prize. This gamification strategy promotes collaboration while encouraging engagement and adoption.

Are you struggling to let your employees make use of your data?

Let us help you build a winning Data & Analytics Strategy that helps your employees to make the best data-driven decisions. With years of experience in change management and data & analytics, we know how to bring changes to your organisation that ensure high adoption and success.