How to Evaluate Change
The final and most important stage of the change planning process is to determine which measures you will use to monitor and evaluate the project outcomes (i.e. were the objectives met?). For example, if the aim was to increase productivity, your measures might include the collation of figures relating to outputs, levels of variation and errors in order to check that they have increased or decreased favourably.
The timeframe over which the measures will be taken should also be determined at the outset, especially when in a turn-around situation where instant results are required. It is essential that you take measures before the commencement of a change or improvement project so that there is sufficient data to compare post-project results to.
How you measure the objectives will depend on the change project, examples of which follow:
Organisational performance – Finance
Organisations often embark on change programmes to improve the financial performance of the organisation in order to increase shareholder value. Here, financial measures are used:
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Share Price
Organisational performance – HR
Organisational performance is heavily dependent on, and influenced by, the level of engagement of its staff. Measuring the effectiveness of the HR function can often reveal issues that impact directly on the bottom line. Here, engagement and employee satisfaction measures are used:
- rate of staff turnover and associated recruitment costs
- average length of service
- number of disciplinary and grievance cases
- results of employee surveys
The analysis of the information gleaned from the measures would not only reveal the current level of engagement, but would also help set targets, objectives and budgets for succession planning, training and development initiatives and recruitment.
It should be common practice for organisations to regularly examine their systems of efficiency around the creation of outputs and change or amend them accordingly. Productivity measures centre on:
- the time, costs and resources needed to design, develop, create and deliver a product or service.
- the quantity of outputs, or number of customers served, etc..
- the amount of variation in the quality of the products or services, i.e. the number of errors or defects
These types of measures are easily quantifiable and can be obtained from production, financial and sales reports. They will be statistical in nature and many organisations will have automated systems, particularly on production lines and in call centres, for recording the data.
It’s imperative to know whether a change initiative has had the desired effect or not. Therefore, it is very important that you determine at the outset of the project what outcomes are expected, how you will measure them and when.
Dependent on the initiative, your measures will either focus on the performance of functions, processes or people. There are numerous ways in which to measure performance outcomes using data, figures or subjective information. Whichever method you use it is, of course, important to measure levels of performance prior to any project then compare them again afterwards. Remember that some initiatives will be monitored over a period of time, while others will be designed to create immediate improvements.
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