Keep the change: Why investing in change management matters


The always dynamic data environment makes it difficult for organizations to avoid change. In my last post, I talked about how change management can bolster data governance programs. It can also be used for other activities, including taking a portfolio-driven approach to business intelligence and adopting a new enterprise application or revising your IT architecture.

All of these activities entail some level of transformation that will affect your current processes, policies, or business strategies. Here is the reality: Without proper oversight, most of these changes will fall short of expectations or fail outright. The more an organization experiences failure, the less likely it is to make major changes in the future, even if it is vital to improving business.

The following examples are common problems that have the potential to undermine the success of your next initiative. For each, I have highlighted ways in which change management can help you address, overcome, or prevent them.

1. Failing to establish a vision

Organizations that do not establish a vision, especially one that addresses the transformation about to take place, are opening the door to confusion and missed targets. Your vision should outline the goals of your project and establish a clear direction for how the goals will be achieved. This process answers the critical questions: What is changing; how is it changing; why the change will impact your business; and what you hope to achieve as a result (targets). A vision is also what will coordinate employee’s actions by giving them a shared goal to work towards. The less uncertainty employees have the more committed they will be to the initiative.

2. Thinking too big

You may desire the enterprise wide use and adoption of analytics, and it is certainly a worthy goal; however, you are unlikely to achieve it in a single step. Many organizations skip the smaller phases and expect universal results. This underestimates the weight and complexity of most changes. How will you create enterprise wide commitment? Is there a fair way to measure the success of the program across all departments or verticals? How will you demonstrate ROI to executives?

In our four-phased approach to change management, we emphasize the importance of small, controlled projects. Pick a starting point for your initiative, so you can more easily develop the vision, adjust the process, and measure the results before you take it to the next level. You can also manage the people side of change more effectively and maintain focus on the initiative if you are working with a distinct group of people.

3. Ignoring employee morale

Change freaks people out. As morale declines, employees are less productive. A Gallup study found that employee disengagement costs the U.S. $300 billion annually.  You also don’t want to lose employees. Hiring and training a new employees can cost your organization exponentially more than keeping an existing one.

Communication and planning are fundamental components of change management. It’s important to communicate with employees about the vision for the change, the steps that will be used to enact it, and the positive impact it will have on their work day. This will keep employees motivated and engaged throughout the process. Balance conversations with insight into areas your organization is succeeding and where it can improve. Employees tend to be happier (read: more productive) and commit more to initiatives when they know what is going on, why it is happening, what their role is, and how leadership is committed to the effort.


About Author

Analise Polsky

Business Solutions Manager

Analise Polsky’s keen understanding of people in diverse cultures gives her depth and insight into data-driven and organizational challenges. As a Thought Leader for SAS Best Practices, she couples her diverse experience as an anthropologist and certified data whiz, to build core assets and deliver dynamic presentations. Her areas of focus include data visualization, organizational culture and change management, as well as data quality and data stewardship. Her multi-lingual background offers a unique ability to help organizations assess strengths and incumbent skills in order to drive strategic shifts in culture, policy and governance, globally. Analise puts the skills she learned while living in the Amazon to use in the corporate jungle – showing organizations how to evolve data practices and principles to meet ever-changing data demands.

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