EPISODE 3

MANAGING CHANGE: PART 1

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Jen is joined by Spencer Stern, Director of Microsoft Dynamics Practice for Catapult Systems, as they begin to unpack the need to prioritize change management when embarking on projects.  This is the first in a series that will touch on the initial needs and game plan for prioritizing Change Management within your organization. 

Full Episode Transcript

Recording:

This is the Peers in Public Records podcast with Jen Snyder brought to you by GovQA.

Jen Snyder:

Good morning everybody, and thank you for joining us again at the Peer-to-Peer GovQA podcast. Today I have the luxury of being joined by Spencer Stern with Catapult Systems. He is a Microsoft Dynamics Practice director. And I’m going to go ahead and let Spencer go ahead and introduce himself, and tell us a little bit about your background, Spencer.

Spencer Stern:

Perfect. Thank you, Jen. And good morning. A little bit about my background is, I am currently working for Catapult Systems, which is a Microsoft channel partner. I headquarter in Austin, Texas, and I’m running their Microsoft Dynamics CRM Practice, which includes the Microsoft Dynamics products, as well as the Power Platform product suite. Specific to change management though, I’ve been in this field for about 15 years and have worked on at least nearly 20 change management-related projects, primarily in the government sector. So I have a lot of experience working with different types of agencies, both at the state level, as well as at the municipal level, which would include cities and counties. I’ve seen the tangible impact that change management systems can provide, and I’m thrilled to be spending some time today talking with you about it.

Prior to joining Catapult Systems, I worked at Microsoft for three years as a customer success director, where I led several change management initiatives, and also ran my own consulting firm, which was a boutique consulting firm for about nine years. Again, focused on the public sector, and also did a significant amount of work around change management specifically related to technology deployments. So again, Jen, thrilled to be here, and thank you for having me this morning.

Jen Snyder:

We appreciate you joining us today. And change management is a big issue and it’s an even bigger issue today because we’ve got such remote, or virtual workforces that we’ve got to really understand that and be in front of it. I think change management sometimes for folks has been an afterthought. So when we find people in the space who have actually dedicated part of their career to teaching people change management and putting together change management practices, we love to hear that, and our audience loves to hear that because it takes a lot of pressure off of how am I going to improve things? How am I going to make change and get the success of all of the people that need to be involved in it? So having that experience to be able to share with our audience today is really great. Can you tell me a little bit about the differences you’ve seen from how the government sector and the private sector look at change management? Because I got to believe there are some definite differences as to how they approach it and, or, even consider it at the beginning of a project.

Spencer Stern:

Yeah, that’s a great question, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with both types of organizations. So one of the key differences that I’ve noticed is from the private, or the commercial sector, the embracing of the initial change is typically more receptive, especially when it comes to technology changes, process changes, or structural changes. One thing that I’ve noticed with public sector organizations is typically a little bit more skepticism, or resistance upfront to changes because a lot of people who have been working for public sector organizations, one of the things that they enjoy about it is the repetition and the certainty and the consistency. And they love to build up that skill set, that muscle. So when change comes, sometimes they view it a little bit differently than somebody in the commercial sectors like, yeah, this is great, I’m excited about learning something new, or doing something different, or having a different reporting structure.

Spencer Stern:

So sometimes it comes down to the DNA of the individuals, and I’ve noticed that it can be a little bit more challenging in the public sector because of the type of person that is working there. So at a high level, that is one of the big differences. And from my perspective, as a change management consultant, I embrace that. I like working with people who initially may be a little bit more skeptical, or a little bit more resistance when dealing with any type of change, because it forces me as the change management consultant to really dig deep and understand, are there things that I may not have been looking at from a change perspective here? So it’s definitely more challenging, I would say, but in the end I think more rewarding too.

Jen Snyder:

One of the things that strikes me is I know government tends to have employment longevity. A lot of folks have been in their positions, or in several different positions within a government entity for many years. And I would imagine that the muscle memory that comes from doing something for a long period of time makes it very unnerving to have to change, wherein the private sector you can see a lot more movement in a more frequent way. How do you address that longevity?

Spencer Stern:

So there’s a couple approaches that I’ve taken working with individuals like that. So a couple of very specific tactics that have worked well is, number one, I try to find people in an agency, or in a unit, or in a department that are newer to that. Not necessarily newer to the public sector organization, they may have transitioned from one department to another, but I try to find these people that are newer, either like I said, as an internal transfer, or as an external hire, because typically there’s a little bit more receptivity to the change. So finding those people and trying to create allyships with them, and then leverage off of those relationships with some of the people in those agencies that have been there a longer time, has been very successful. Another thing that I’ve done is I’ve looked across, and this is, again, just based on the experience that I’ve had, typically I’ve been able to work with other clients in other departments that have experienced similar change.

Spencer Stern:

So for example, if I’m working with a public works department, and they are implementing a new work order management system, and the current system that they have is an access database, for example, or Excel spreadsheets, and they’ve been working on it for 10 or 15 years, what I’ve been able to do is identify similarly situated people, peers, if you will, in other public works organizations at a city, or a county, or at a state for example, and put those people in touch, and have them walk through the change that they went through to learn this new system. I found that peer-to-peer mentoring and coaching goes a long way with public sector individuals.

Spencer Stern:

So again, it’s about being able to bring those resources and those people to the table to help the individuals that are, as you said, Jen, really have this muscle memory of doing something a certain way for a long period of time. If they see somebody that’s similarly situated to them, that has gone through a similar type of change, it gives them confidence that they can do it themselves because that’s sometimes the biggest challenge here is the mindset that people have been doing something for so long, so well, and they’re great at it, that it’s very difficult for them to embrace this concept of change, because, Oh my gosh, what if I’m not successful? So seeing similarly situated people that have been successful with it, helps build their confidence that they too can make the change.

Jen Snyder:

That brings up a great point because one of the things I appreciate about being a part of the gov tech space is that government employees tend to really appreciate and value the work that someone else has done. It’s not a competitive landscape, they want to know that someone else in some other department, or some other organization, has done something and done it successfully, and they want to learn from it, and they want to take from it, which I think is a very healthy way to behave. So if that happens in just identifying product in general, which is where my space is, to the opportunity to understand the success that they could bring with a proper change management plan, that all makes sense to me. When you’re looking at an organization, what are the key things that you look for in order to identify where there might be some hiccups or problems with a change management plan?

Spencer Stern:

That’s a great question. So there are several critical success factors that I look to see if they are in place upfront, if they’re not in place, I need to work with the organization, that could be the executive sponsor, that could be the program manager, it could be elected or appointed department heads, to make sure that these critical success factors are in place. There’s several of them I want to hit the highlights, if you will.

Jen Snyder:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Spencer Stern:

One of them is strong support from the projects executive champion, especially in public sector, if there is not an executive champion in place that is well-respected within the organization, has that executive-level leadership, if that person is not around, and not advocating for the change, that has to be in place immediately. From my perspective, the executive champion has to have a personal stake in the outcome of the project strategy, and any specific sub-projects associated with it. They must be actively involved from the start all the way to the implementation. Having that executive sponsor in place helps build confidence within the team that, Hey, this project is legit. This person is behind it. They are acting as an enthusiastic cheerleader. So, that’s one critical success factor.

Spencer Stern:

Another one is very clear goals and specific performance targets. If these goals are not set upfront, it’s going to be challenging to say, well, were we successful or not? So these performance goals can be financially based. They can be human resource-based. They can be efficiency-based. And perhaps we can talk about metrics a little later, but having these specific performance targets up front so everyone knows what the common goal is, is again, a very critical success factor. Another thing is the availability of resources. And sometimes this could be a challenge in public sector change management initiatives. Do we have the people with the right skill sets to be able to successfully utilize whatever new technology is coming through, or if it’s a process change, do they have the skill sets to deal with the new process, for example? So understanding the resources, understanding their skillset, and if they don’t have the appropriate skill sets that we need, that gets to another critical success factor, which is training. The training piece of it, we need to educate, change management leaders need to educate the organization about the changes that are going to be delivered.

Jen Snyder:

So if you were doing a project that was, let’s just say enterprise-wide, do you strongly suggested that each individual department almost have a change management agent?

Spencer Stern:

Correct. We sometimes refer to them as change management leads, or change management champions.

Jen Snyder:

Got it.

Spencer Stern:

That is a critical piece of success here. And those people typically will report up to the overall project manager, and then might even be dotted line to the executive sponsor.

Jen Snyder:

Now here’s a chicken and egg question for you. So I know that there’s a lot of customers that we’ve spoke within the past that are more worried about adoption. How am I going to get everyone to use it? And it seems like change management comes after where the change management plan would address and put a roadmap into adoption. Is that correct?

Spencer Stern:

That is correct. And what’s interesting, Jen, is that the whole concept of change management over the past few years has even changed a little bit, even evolved towards being called ACM, adoption and change management, because that component of it, and I know it might just be, Oh, is this just another acronym? But it’s very focused on, change management is focused on making sure that we appropriately address the people and the cultural aspects of change, but at the end of the day, it’s also, the metric is about how successful is the adoption of it? So having those principles in place to ensure that whatever change is being pushed through is actually being utilized, and deployed, and enjoyed by the people that are the frontline personnel, that’s really a critical success factor. That’s how we help measure the overall success of the program.

Jen Snyder:

So how early on in the evaluation, let’s just say someone is purchasing a new software, whether it’s to replace existing software, or it’s just a new improvement in general, from a manual process, how early on should they be building and planning a change management process?

Spencer Stern:

What I have seen in organizations that I’ve worked with, is that change management process is in place prior to, for example, issuing an RFP, let’s assume it’s a technology solution, prior to even sending that RFP out to the vendor community, the change management team is in place, because if they know that a new piece of technology is going to be selected, clearly they don’t know which vendor they’re going to go with, that’s why they have the procurement process, but they know that they’re going to need to change. And they don’t want to get caught flat-footed once the selection is made of the vendor of, okay, now let’s start the change management piece. So my experience has been a, I would say this is a best practice, is work with your timeline. If you want to issue an RFP let’s say in July, go back three or four months prior and start figuring out what the change management team needs to look like.

Spencer Stern:

Who’s going to be the executive sponsor? Who can be the potential change management champions, or change management leads within the various departments? Where are going to be the potential pockets of resistance that we need to identify and work on? What are the different types of communication vehicles and tactics that we need to utilize in order to make this plan successful? And in some instances, what I’ve seen, and certainly with projects that I’ve worked on, when these RFPs are issued, especially for new technology solutions, there is a request put in there for change management services from the vendor to align with the existing change management team that the client has put together. That’s really a best practice because it melds the team that has been put together from the client-side with the change management experts at the vendor who know the technology the best.

Jen Snyder:

So let me ask you this. So we’ve talked a lot about best practices and the most successful way to do this, but let’s talk, so that was the good, let’s talk about the bad or the ugly. So where have you had any experience where you’ve been brought in after the fact? Maybe a software has been chosen, they’re partially through implementation, or they’re out of implementation, and it’s not going well, do you have any experience in that?

Spencer Stern:

Yeah. So there was a project, it was about four or five years ago. It was a Midwestern city, a decent-sized Midwestern city that had implemented a new CRM system to interact with their constituents. And upfront the vendor was very proactive in letting the client know how critical the change management piece was, but the client did not take the vendor’s advice and felt that, well, we’ve done these types of technology deployments before, we’ve been successful, we don’t need the change management piece of it, just help us deploy the software, help us with the training, and we’ll make sure that it’s going to be successfully utilized. So one of the things the vendor did is develop a detailed risk mitigation plan and said, this could be a potential problem moving forward. And then eventually, unfortunately, after it got to deployment, there were some serious usage issues with this client regarding training, regarding workflow, regarding responsibility of tasks, et cetera.

Spencer Stern:

So at that point, the vendor, the software vendor reached out to me, got me connected with the individuals, the leadership, if you will, within the municipality. And we had to go through a almost after-the-fact change management program, and that was incredibly challenging. It took a significant amount of more time, and money, and resources from the city to retrain people and re-educate people. And in addition to that, the launch of the new CRM software was delayed because when they did it as a soft launch, that’s when they noticed that there were a significant amount of issues, especially around training and usage, and workflow. All of these things could have been appropriately addressed upfront had the change management program been put in place, but it’s significantly harder to do change management after the fact, because some of the people who were impacted, some of the employees that were impacted by this had checked out, honestly, Jen, because they felt like, Oh my gosh, this thing’s just not working, I knew it wasn’t going to work.

Spencer Stern:

And when you lose their level of cooperation, their spirit of cooperation, that has an overall adverse effect on the project. So not taking this into account upfront ended up, in the long run, costing the municipality a lot more money. It was not deployed on time, even though executives at the city appointed and elected officials committed that this program would be deployed on a certain date. It also had an adverse impact on the level of trust between the employees and management at the city, because the employees even though they were maybe not very receptive or adoptive to the change, they felt like the management team hung them out there to dry a little bit by deploying something that they really weren’t ready to utilize, and that really wasn’t ready for prime time.

Spencer Stern:

So there’s that element of having to rebuild the trust between the frontline staff and the managers and the supervisors because this thing wasn’t deployed correctly, and it was launched in a pilot mode, and the citizens were very upset, and the feedback was going to the frontline workers, and that was very frustrating for them, they take a lot of pride in the work that they’re doing, and when they’re getting literally yelled and screamed at, and getting scathing emails from citizens, they take it personally, they take a lot of pride in their job, and they felt a huge disconnect between their managers and supervisors not preparing them for success. Does that make sense?

Jen Snyder:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So that circles back to your, you really need an executive sponsor. I can see where people would think they can cut corners, or trim some fat by not putting together a change management process or plan, especially if they think they’ve walked the walk before, but every project is so unique and will affect and touch so many different people, and, or, processes that I think it’s really important that that piece be in place. So if you were to talk to our audience today and give them what the three top concerns would be when implementing a new technology, and getting that adoption through change management, what are the three things that you need them to realize are going to be a problem, or could be a problem?

Spencer Stern:

Yeah. Yeah. So three things, there’s a lot, but the three things that I would say upfront are, number one, listen and understand objections. Okay. A key part of change management, and as I’m going to now say, adoption and change management, is empathetic listening. Okay. Be very earnest and understanding concerns of the personnel that are going to be impacted by this change. And sometimes people they’re not necessarily, Jen, resistant to the change, they just need to talk things out, and they need to have somebody there like an executive sponsor, or a change management lead, just to be heard, just to talk things out in order to get more comfortable with the change. The other thing that’s so critical here with this listening phase is from a project team perspective, items might get brought up that we didn’t consider in the overall project planning process, because sometimes we’re not looking at, we may be looking at the project from a bigger picture perspective, we’re not looking at it from a task level.

Jen Snyder:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Spencer Stern:

When we’re having these conversations with frontline people or supervisors, they may bring up some really excellent ideas on how we can enhance the overall project plan, make it more easier to use, make it more customer-centric, et cetera. So listen and understand objectives. I think that’s a really important factor here. Be an empathetic listener, let people talk. Sometimes people just want to be heard, right? That’s so important to get their voice heard. And especially when they provide specific feedback that actually gets implemented in the project plan, to them it’s like, Oh, wow moments. Like, Hey, not only did they pay attention to me, but they made adjustments. Another key factor is remove barriers. Okay. That’s sometimes an employee’s desire to change, they’re inhibited by obstacles and they’re inhibited by barriers. And [inaudible 00:21:18].

Jen Snyder:

Can you give an example of what some of those barriers might be?

Spencer Stern:

Absolutely. So for example, one potential barrier could be, again, let’s focus on the public sector environment. One potential barrier could be an existing union contract, for example. So while an employee may want to change, they may say, well, based on my job description here, I can’t change. My job says I can only be doing A, I can’t do A plus B. So sometimes that could be a barrier that we need to look at. And I’ve had this personally in several public sector clients where we have had to meet, for example, with union leadership, like a union steward, for example, and say, look, we really like this person or this group of people, we think they’re excellent workers, but by deploying this new technology, their job is going to change. What can we do, because these people want to stay in the same position, they add a lot of value, they’re the right people to have in these positions. What can we do, from a job description perspective, to make updates, to remove these barriers, to ensure that they can be successful in this new role?

Spencer Stern:

So it does become, Jen, a little bit of a negotiation, if you will, between the union leadership, the employee, and the municipality, to help drive to that. But at the end of the day, what do we have in common? We want what’s best for the employee. We want what’s best for the citizen. So those are sometimes can be very challenging conversations, but that’s a very distinct and unique barrier that I’ve experienced in the public sector, where I may not have experienced that in the private or commercial sector.

Jen Snyder:

Are there any resources out there that folks can go to, that you may know of, that would help them understand the benefits and the reasoning behind putting together a good change management plan?

Spencer Stern:

Absolutely. So a couple of resources to look at is, one of them is an organization called Prosci, P-R-O-S-C-I, and they have put together a very detailed methodology around adoption and change management that I’ve utilized for 10 plus years. So that’s one organization that has training and lays out the different methodologies that can be utilized to help drive the change. Another area to look at as far as helping quantify and identify the benefits of adoption and change management would be various research reports by Gardner Group, for example. So Gardner Group is an IT services firm that does a amount of research and analysis in the IT space. They’ve conducted longitudinal studies that show the tangible impact that change management has specifically related to technology projects. So that’s another resource that I would suggest going to. And then lastly, a resource within the public sector space itself, are various trade associations that have covered change management. One specifically that I’d like to call out is the International City/County Management Association, they have put together studies and resources that deal specifically with adoption and change management in the public sector.

Jen Snyder:

So it sounds like to me, if you take change management head-on, as just one component to your new product, your new process, whatever it might be, it should not be the behemoth in the room, if you will, it should be just one more component to getting it done successfully.

Spencer Stern:

That’s exactly correct. And it should be, as you’ve mentioned, and as we’ve talked about, integrated into the overall project plan, but it’s not going to be this massive time suck if you will, that governs the entire project. It’s a component of it, it’s a critical component, and it ties together several different areas of a project. Communications planning, training, coaching, mentoring, skills transfer. Those are all components of a successful adoption and change management plan.

Jen Snyder:

Just out of curiosity, we mentioned in the beginning metrics. So to me, if you can’t measure it, it’s not worth doing. So if I’m putting together a change management plan, how will I know it’s successful? What are some of the specific metrics I should be looking for?

Spencer Stern:

So some of the metrics that we’ve looked at, and have utilized successfully, is time to complete. So for example, and this is something that is part of the overall change management plan, you got to measure upfront what your current state is. Okay. And sometimes that can be challenging to measure your current performance from a quantitative, from a numerical perspective, because the systems aren’t necessarily in place. So sometimes it’s anecdotal. Sometimes you need to do interviews, et cetera, but for a couple of different municipalities that I’ve worked with, we were able to capture how long it takes to do something upfront. So for example, how much time is involved with processing an initial customer request to, for example, pick up missed trash, or to remove graffiti? So by processing how long that takes down to the seconds, and then having that as your current state metric, if you will. And then once the new technology is implemented, okay, how long does it take to process an incoming service request now? In addition, another metric that we’ve utilized is how long does it take to complete a task?

Spencer Stern:

So one client that I was working with on the West Coast, the average time for them to remove graffiti was sometimes four business days. And we knew that upfront, and that was a big problem for this municipality. So once the new system was implemented, we had set up a target of improvement to get that down to three business days. But once the system was implemented and it worked very efficiently, the actual time to remove the graffiti was reduced from four business days to two business days, that’s a very tangible metric that the system helped drive. Another metric is around the financial aspect of things. So some municipalities put together a return on investment analysis if you will. So they will look at how much it cost, for example, to buy the new software, and what is the cost of the implementation services related to that? So that’s the amount of money that’s spent up front, but then they look at what are the potential savings that happen over that period of time?

Spencer Stern:

So one specific metric that we’ve utilized is, and this was, again, a Midwestern city that I work with, because they implemented this new software, this municipality was able to close seven separate job reqs that were out there. Nobody lost their job, but the city saved a significant amount of money because they didn’t have to hire seven new staff because the technology was making their communication more efficient. So when they looked at the upfront cost of the software and the services, this was to deploy a new CRM, as well as new work order management system, and asset management system, over a two year period, they got a full payback on this thing because they didn’t have to hire people that they were initially planning on hiring. So those are some very specific financial metrics around HR, around financial, around efficiency, that the change management process can help drive by identifying your current state upfront, and then measuring over a three, six, nine-month period, how long it then takes to do something. It shows the value of not only the technology but also more importantly the implementation of the change management program.

Jen Snyder:

Would you say that change management is a one and done, or do you think it’s something that’s ongoing?

Spencer Stern:

That’s a really great question. I would say it’s ongoing. And especially as I mentioned previously with one of the resources, the Prosci resource, it’s a three phased approach to change management. The first phase is called preparing for change. And that’s where you define your strategy, you prepare your change management team, you develop your champion model, you build, you recruit the different change management leads, change management champions. The second phase is called managing change. And that’s where you develop your communications plan, the champions roadmap, the coaching plan, the resistance management plan, the training plan. And then the third phase is called reinforcing change. So the reinforcing change phase starts once the project is launched. Okay. And you raise the flag, you have your launch party, Hey, we’ve done this. We’ve been successful with it.

Spencer Stern:

But a lot of organizations skip phase three, if you will, the reinforcing of the change. And the reinforcing of the change is we go and we collect and analyze feedback. We continue management oversight. We keep the engagement with the employees, how can we get this system better? We identify corrective actions that can be taken or enhancements in the software that can be taken. And then in addition, there’s transition management, which is another component of the reinforcing of the change, bringing new people on board, bringing new leadership on board, spreading the change, making it permeate throughout the organization. So again, these three phases are tied to the Prosci change management methodology, but what makes it more successful is the continuation of this even after the successful launch.

Jen Snyder:

That brings up a point. I’ve been doing a little research myself prior to our call. And one of the things I noticed was in the spirit of ongoing change management, the usage of gamification came into it. So not only do we want to have something, have it be successful, be able to measure it, but we need it to be a little fun to make it adaptable. So I’ve seen gamification come into play there. Have you had any experience with that?

Spencer Stern:

Yeah, a little bit. So there’s been a couple of municipalities that have utilized gamification to help actually engage citizens with the use of their programs. So specifically in the city of San Antonio, in the city of Boston, again, I’m going to go back to CRM applications, customer relations, citizen relationship management applications. They have deployed mobile apps, and mobile is a channel that the citizens utilize to communicate with their cities, in both Boston and San Antonio, they have gamified, if you will, their mobile app to acknowledge and reward citizens who are reporting a lot of legitimate, I want to emphasize, legitimate service requests, but also commenting and being helpful with other service requests that have been submitted by other citizens.

Spencer Stern:

And these aren’t things that cost money, these are maybe virtual badges you give out or titles that you give out to people, but it helps create this sense of community amongst the citizens to identify issues and coalesce and collaborate with each other, and by doing that, they’re also collaborating with the city, with the county, because they’re the eyes and ears that are on the street that are identifying these types of issues, and it helps create relationships and rapport between the employees of the municipality, as well as the citizens that they’re serving. So gamification, from that perspective, is really good because it engages the citizen, but then also pushes back on the municipality from a collaboration perspective.

Spencer Stern:

And similarly, gamification can be implemented from the employee’s perspective too. What I’ve seen in a couple municipalities is that when they implement a new system, and as we talked about previously, the importance of creating these metrics to be successful, is that there’s recognition that goes on within the municipality of teams that have made the greatest strides of improvement. A team that, for example, has reduced their time to remediate graffiti, or fix a traffic light, or fix a pothole, for example. And again, it’s not necessarily a financial incentive, it’s a recognition incentive by the department manager, by the mayor, for example. And this stuff goes a long way, especially with municipal employees, having that recognition by your peers, and by your upper management, by your executives. Again, I’m not sure if gamification is the right word, but putting together these programs as part of an overall adoption and change management plan go a long way to help drive the change successfully within the organization.

Jen Snyder:

Absolutely. If you look at it, and again from a leadership perspective, not only can I make it a little more fun and exciting for people to participate and embrace this change, it also gives me the advantage of being able to see things across a bigger picture and identify where there’s opportunity for more improvement, or maybe more coaching, or support. So it can be a positive thing for everybody all the way around.

Spencer Stern:

I agree. With change, we’re all in it together. The vendor, the change management consultant, if there is one, the employees of the municipality at all levels, from the frontline all the way up to the executive leadership. And I think those things, those ideas that you mentioned, Jen, help coalesce the team around common objectives.

Jen Snyder:

Absolutely. I have one final question for you, Spencer. We didn’t touch on this, so I wanted to circle back. The change management team, we’ve talked about how critical that is a component in this whole thing, is that change management team necessarily put together, or is it critical to the beginning of the process? So when you’re writing your requirements, and you’re determining and evaluating different platforms, where does that change management team absolutely need to be deployed?

Spencer Stern:

It’s created in tandem with the overall project scope if you will. So, one of the things that I feel is really critical here is getting these people, creating this team up front, and having them start evangelizing about this change that’s coming through even before any RFP is issued, for example, but just getting the word out there. I did some work, I’ll specifically call it, the city of Elgin, even before I was hired to help the city of Elgin in Illinois with the CRM system, the city manager had a vision around what a 311 call center should look like. And he would always articulate this at city council meetings, he’d articulate at executive leadership meetings, he would articulate this to the elected officials on one-on-one meetings.

Spencer Stern:

So once I got engaged and help put together the overall business case for it, as well as the overall change management plan, there was already a significant amount of familiarity with what the vision was, and there were people that had self-identified as wanting to be involved in this project, in any type of capacity, as a trainer, from an IT perspective, from a change management lead perspective. So having that, and obviously, the city manager was the executive sponsor of this initiative, but having that done well before even hiring a consultant, well before even having any type of requirements, as far as what the software’s going to look like, that played a critical role in the success of this initiative.

Jen Snyder:

Absolutely, absolutely. That executive sponsorship is key. Spencer, we are running out of time today. Please let everyone know how they can reach you if they’d like to talk a little bit more in-depth about change management, how can they find Spencer Stern today? And then we’ll go ahead and wrap things up.

Spencer Stern:

Perfect. My email address is Spencer S-P-E-N-C-E-R. Stern S-T-E-R-N, @catapultsystems, all one word, .com. And my phone number is (773) 242-6000

Jen Snyder:

Spencer, I want to just say, it’s always a pleasure to chat with you. It’s been wonderful having a conversation today around change management. This is going to be part one in a series that we’re going to do with Spencer, and actually, some of our fellow government employees are going to join us in those calls so that we can share some of their real-life stories as far as change management goes. So thank you again for joining our podcast today, Spencer, as always, thank you. And we look forward to talking to you again soon.

Recording:

Thank you for listening to the Peers in Public Records podcast. To continue the conversation and learn more about public records, visit us at govqa.com, or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

FEATURING

SPENCER STERN | CATAPULT SYSTEMS

Director, Microsoft Dynamics Practice

Spencer joined Catapult Systems, a Microsoft SI channel partner in 2020. He is leading their Microsoft Dynamics CRM practice. Prior to Catapult, Spencer worked at Microsoft as a Customer Success Director focused on deploying Microsoft’s Dynamics platform in State and Local government clients. Spencer was the founder and president of Stern Consulting, a boutique Chicago-based consultancy founded in 2008. He helped public sector organizations align their strategy and related tactics with their technology deployments. In recent years, he has directed, implemented, and participated in software, digital, and mobile communications projects, including: citizen engagement, ERP and CRM implementations, social media strategic planning, and website re-design initiatives. He is a recognized industry expert on digital citizen engagement strategies.

Prior to starting Stern Consulting, Spencer was the Central Region Public Sector Team Lead for Baker Tilly, a national consultancy. Previously, Spencer was a founding partner of Market Strategy Group, a management consultancy based in Chicago. In addition, Spencer worked for Motorola supporting 311/CRM deployments in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, and several other municipalities. Spencer has worked on more than 60 North American citizen engagement initiatives with communities ranging in size from West Hollywood, CA to Chicago.

Spencer has taught an on-line course at Rutgers entitled Governmental Transparency and E-Governance. He has been published in multiple government-oriented publications and is a frequent speaker at public sector conferences, webinars, and national conferences 

Spencer holds a BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois and an MBA in corporate finance and strategic management from the Wharton School of Business. He is also a CPA, a 6 Sigma Green Belt, and a Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner.

HOSTED BY

JEN SNYDER

Chief Evangelist

As GovQA’s Chief Evangelist, Jen is interested in meaningful conversations that look both at the big picture, as well as dig deep into nitty-gritty best-practice working sessions on all government challenges and opportunities including those related to technology, transparency, security, procurement, legislative mandates, compliance, staffing challenges, and more. Jen’s 15 years of experience in the state and local government space includes guest speaking and moderating for government events, roundtables, and associations. She has another 10 years of experience managing local and international business development initiatives for B2B tech companies.

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