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DMS Adoption: The Details Are In Your Data Part 2 of 3


Without goals and measurements in place, it’s hard to know if you have hit the mark or need to change course. Collecting and analyzing data can help plot a purposeful path and provide guidance for steering a project or initiative forward – such as implementing a document management system (DMS).

You’ll want to start your deployment off on the right foot by setting goals and identifying the metrics for measuring success at each stage of the project. By having SMART goals (Specific in what you are trying to achieve, ensuring it’s Measurable and Attainable, Relevant to the business, and have a Timeframe), you can make it easier to identify and track appropriate metrics that that directly tie back to your goal(s).[i]


Know your starting point. At the earliest stages of the project, conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews across the organization to inform your integration team as well as your communications and learning strategy. Collecting baseline data points for systems usage, needs, and issues prior to deployment is necessary to have something to compare post-rollout numbers against. You won’t know how far you moved the needle if you don’t know where the needle started.

Verify your current position. Early communications are part of an effective change management strategy to cut through confusion and reduce push back[ii] as well as a robust learning strategy for laying the initial foundation of knowledge.[iii] Measuring people’s reaction to messaging and pre-learning can be an early indicator of their intent to embrace the change.[iv] One way to measure reactions is by gathering anecdotal evidence:

  • When sharing details of the change, observe and note people’s body language and tone. Do heads nod or shake? Faces smile or frown? Are questions inquisitive or challenging? Is the tone positive or negative?
  • Leverage sponsors and supervisors to check in with their teams and collect feedback. Simple questions like, “Did you see/hear the message? What’s your reaction? What questions or concerns do you have? What did you like/dislike?” open the door for discussion.

Be agile. Gauge the emotion behind responses. Confusion indicates people don’t know why the change is happening, while resistance indicates people don’t understand how the change will benefit or affect them.[v] By diagnosing the shortcomings of your communication efforts in advance, you have time to be agile and course-correct prior to deployment.


Engage learners. As a trainer, in the moment of learning ask open-ended questions to measure audience understanding and knowledge.[vi] Track the questions and share them with the project team, use them to create a list of FAQs or knowledge base. If you notice that an individual has an inordinate number of questions, notify the support team that the person may need a little extra attention.

Look for trends. During and after training, track and look for trends in questions or issues. This can indicate a need to adjust training, provide a just-in-time workshop, or create additional content. Plan for the possibility that new needs may surface. It is normal that when doing something for the first time more questions will surface. Expect a spike in helpdesk and support calls during the first week and tapering each day. This is an indicator of application and behavioral change.[vii] Questions may also morph to a more advanced-level as people increase their usage—another positive indication—so consider having a plan for coding the level of questions.


Rerun system usage reports. One-week, two-weeks, one-month, three-months, and six-months after deployment rerun the system usage reports and compare to the previous report.[viii]

Analyze and take action. Don’t collect data for data’s sake but analyze and draw conclusions from it—then take appropriate action.

Hold people accountable. What gets measured, gets done. Leverage sponsors and supervisors to conduct interviews, touch base with employees, observe behavior, and encourage compliance to reinforce the change as needed.

Quantify and qualify the data. Over time, data begins to tell a story. Look for the leading indicators of success such as compliance using the new system, processing time, employee satisfaction scores, fewer critical incident reports, and audit findings.[ix]

The success behind achieving goals is largely determined by how well they are defined and measured. The power of data is found in the details and what we choose to do with that knowledge. Let data be your guiding light throughout each stage of a project to ensure a smooth transition and a positive outcome.

By Carolyn Humpherys, Learning and Change Management Consultant at Traveling Coaches

[i] Smart Goals

[ii] Prosci’s ADKAR Model for Change

[iii] Bloom’s Taxonomy

[iv] Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation – Level 1

[v] ADKAR Gap Model

[vi] Kirkpatrick’s Level 2

[vii] Kirkpatrick’s Level 3

[viii] Kirkpatrick’s Level 3

[ix] Kirkpatrick’s Level 4

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