When to Measure Change in a Project?

Following up from our previous Blog, “How Do I Know if my Team is Ready for Change?”, this article discusses when to measure change in a project.

Ideally you will have a baseline measurement – i.e. before work has begun on the change. For example, if you are implementing a new system, you can poll your team prior to beginning the system implementation. This will allow you to compare the future measurements to the baseline and assess progress.

Some projects take so long to implement, however, that the baseline scoring may not be applicable to the entire organization, rather a subset (the “Subject Matter Experts” or “SMEs” which should include the “Core Team”) will suffice for this baseline measurement. Rule of thumb – if the project implementation timeline is more than 6-9 months, the baseline poll need not include everyone.

We use a straightforward reporting tool to show where each group of employees falls in the baseline. Each person is asked where they fall on the scale of 1-5 (you may consider removing option 5 at this time since the change is not close to being live), and average those scores. At the Baseline stage, the hope is that at least the Leadership team and Subject Matter Experts are at a 1, possibly even a 2. Other team members may be at a 1 or even “zero”, meaning they hadn’t even heard about the change until the moment you asked them about it!

Change Tool – highlighting Baseline Score

If you do not get a baseline score from some groups before the change project begins, you will want to poll them just prior to engaging that group. For example, if you are doing an 12-month ERP implementation and you took a baseline of the Leadership Team and SMEs at the outset, and you plan to bring in the First Level Managers at the 7-months out point, you would poll them just prior to giving them new information. If you plan to bring the End Users in for training at the 3 months out point, you would also poll them just prior to beginning training.

Upon analyzing your baseline results, you can then set up a GOAL versus ACTUAL timeline for your future polling dates. Specifically, if you start at 12 months out, you may plan to poll again at 9 months out, 6 months out, then monthly after that. For each of the times you intend to poll, the Core Team will discuss where you’d like each group to be at that poll point. Below is our example of Goal scoring for the 5 months prior to “Go Live” in a change.

Now that you know where you want these groups to be, you can compare their actual scores at each point in time, and develop plans to progress them further, if they are low, or ask them to cross-train each other if they are advanced.

It is important to note that the Core Team and/or Change Manager will not be the only person doing the polling and *definitely* not the only ones providing training. First Level Managers and/or Subject Matter Experts can be assigned to each group of End Users to poll their teams and to help develop targeted training plans, with advice, assistance, and accountability from the Core Team and Change Manager as you go. After all, the best predictor of your organization’s ability to be productive when the change has happened is how ready the End Users are, and that they are confident they will be supported by their immediate manager.