How to unlock a scientific approach to change management with powerful data insights

By and Sharon Maidment | 6 minute read | January 11, 2023

Use data-driven insights for change management

Without a doubt, there is exponential growth in the access to and volume of process data we all, as individuals, have at our fingertips. Coupled with a current climate that is proving to be increasingly ambiguous and complex, there is a huge opportunity to leverage data insights to drive a more robust, evidence-based methodology to the way we work and manage change. Not only can data support a more compelling change management strategy, but it’s also able to identify, accelerate and embed change faster, all of which is critical in our continuously changing world. Grasping these opportunities at IBM, we’re increasingly building our specialism in process mining and data analysis tools and techniques we believe to be true ‘game changers’ when it comes to building cultures of continuous change and innovation.

For us, one stand-out area of opportunity presented by process data analytics capability is process mining: the process of finding anomalies, patterns and correlations within large data sets to predict process outcomes. Process mining presents the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to investing time and energy into organizational change initiatives that can make change stick. We see four key areas where this process mining capability can be applied to truly transform the value derived by a change program:

1. Starting from the top: Focusing on the right change and making it feel right

We see time and time again the detrimental impact of misaligned or disengaged leaders, especially when it comes to driving a case for effective change and inspiring their teams to take action. A recent Leadership IQ survey in 2021 reported by Forbes states that ‘only 29% of employees say that their leader’s vision for the future always seems to be aligned with the organization’s’. Ultimately, if leaders at every level are not on the same page, and if people are not fully bought into the change, results become vulnerable. Having a brilliant vision and strategy doesn’t make a difference if you can’t get your leaders and employees to buy into that vision.

With the Business Case and Case for Change often being the first and potentially the most critical ‘must get right’ factor of any change program, the need for real-time data is clear. How much easier would it be to base a business transformation on data-driven insights that could demonstrate and quantify the opportunity based on the facts.

Leveraging data to replace the ‘gut feel’ on which too many business decisions are made enables change practitioners to separate perceptions from reality and decide which processes need the most focus. In other words, the data science of change management focuses you on that which will make the greatest impact on your business objectives, KPIs and strategic outcomes. It can show whether perceptions are real, as well as unearthing unexpected insights. Ultimately, insights based on hard data can bring transparency to your decision making and provide a more compelling story that everyone can agree on.

2. Picking up the pace: Accelerating the change journey

Do you know how your business really operates on the ground? Change programs can spend many weeks conducting interviews and workshops to identify ‘As Is’ pictures. However, we often find a disconnect between what users say is happening, and what data shows is actually happening. Process mining tools analyse data from thousands of transactions across all locations to paint a true story, providing faster and more reliable insights into the root causes of issues and identify the strongest opportunities for improvements.

Likewise, change agents spend a lot of time and effort on ‘To Be’ design and identifying the impact on those affected by the potential ‘new normal’. Process mining tools can perform a fit-gap analysis on new processes to rapidly and more accurately identify the greatest change impacts. This can, in turn, accelerate the creation of your communications and training programmes to support the introduction of the change with more exact and bespoke change journeys. Detailed insights about levels of process compliance can be brought to design teams to inform and focus the design of future processes and systems.


CoE = Center of Excellence = Accelerator for Change
A center of excellence (CoE) is a dedicated team that has been mandated to provide leadership, best practices, technical deployment, support and training for Celonis in your organization.


3. Making it happen: Driving faster adoption

There is a common conception that introducing new technology will make things faster and easier, but this isn’t always the case. Forbes states that ‘despite significant investments in new technologies over the past decade, many organisations are actually watching their operations slow down due to underutilization of technology’. Quite clearly, we can’t just ‘plug in a system’ and expect it to be adopted. No matter how ‘fit for purpose’ it is in its design, and how well adopted it is when introduced, these results will undoubtedly change due to a variety of factors within and outside of our control.

So how do you spot this early, and react or even prevent this in a timely and effective manner?

Though advanced analytics, process mining solutions can highlight gaps and opportunities in a digital transformation. This means you can intervene with targeted change interventions to course correct more quickly. For example, pin-pointing a certain user group or process which is reflecting lower levels of activity or inaccuracy of tasks. You can design training and engagement interventions to further upskill or educate team members; or, identify process improvement opportunities to better support them in the activities they undertake.

Furthermore, this capability can also tackle another stumbling block we face: once you have introduced a change, how do you easily measure its success and adoption?

By applying process mining, you can quickly see levels of process compliance right across the organisation and right across the value chain. Process mining tools automate and generate dashboards which illustrate an ‘at a glance’ view of adoption rates. They also allow you to quantify business value based on improvements and allows you to assign and track key metrics with business objectives.

4. Making it stick: Driving continuous change

Embedding a culture of continuous change and improvement into the DNA of an organisation is a significant undertaking. The McKinsey Organizational Health Index shows that the most common type of culture in high performing companies is the continuous improvement one. This Index proved that in almost 2000 companies, organizational health is closely linked to performance. In its very nature, data mining tools target this continuous improvement and equip its users with the data to continuously identify new opportunities and relentlessly reinvent the way things get done.

Due to their simplicity and intuitive qualities, process mining tools make it easy for non-data specialists to find and use data-driven insights, making it much easier to build a culture of continuous improvement and innovation across the organisation. However, data-based approaches such as process mining provide most value when organisations commit to them for the long term. Thus, adoption of these tools is a mini-change project in itself. Embedding the use of data and metrics in everyday work needs not only an understanding of the tool but also a change of mindset towards using data insights as part of continuous improvement efforts. Just as with any IT implementation, spending time taking users and stakeholders through the change curve from awareness to adoption will pay dividends in the long run.


Operationalize Change / Execution Management =>

Execute on shopfloor level based on facts & figures / using Machine Learning / AI


Final thoughts on data insights for change management

To conclude, through the power of data, change management will move from a project-based discipline struggling to justify adequate investment to one that is advising on business outcomes and how to successfully deliver them. It presents opportunities not only to super-charge and accelerate typical change management interventions – such as the development of change journeys or tracking adoption – but flex its power to influence and change the mindsets of those working with it. Process mining equips and empowers people to think, challenge and reinvent what we do. This goes hand in hand with our appreciation that ‘change is always changing’ and we need to keep pace or risk falling behind.