Application Eggs and Change Chickens with Angeliki Patsiavou

Application Eggs and Change Chickens with Angeliki Patsiavou

#115. Angeliki Patsiavou is on a mission to help Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform application development teams introduce professional change managers to their projects from inception instead of deferring it until near the end.

Angeliki is a senior consultant at Avanade, specialising in change management, and has a background as a change manager at HSBC and a digital marketer.

Join us as we highlight her upcoming presentation at Scottish Summit, "The chicken-egg dilemma; should product development or change management come first in CRM systems?"

Register today for Scottish Summit (655 tickets remaining).

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Angeliki Patsiavou: [00:00:00] If you ask a lot of people, I'm sure they will say that the product needs to be developed first and towards the latter stages then you call in a change specialist to help you. And unfortunately, that's one of the myths. 

Neil Benson: Hey there, I'm Neil Benson from Customery and you're listening to Amazing Applications episode 115. Welcome to the podcast or welcome back if you're a regular listener. Thanks so much for downloading the new episode. 

Over the past couple of episodes, I've been lucky enough to meet with some of the presenters at the Scottish Summit conference, which lands in Glasgow.

In this episode, I chat with Angeliki Patsiavou. Angeliki is on a mission to help a business application teams, like ours, embrace change management as a discipline throughout our projects from the start, rather than just as an optional consideration if we have time at the end. 

I think it's a thought provoking charge that Angeliki is leading, and I hope you find our conversation help you consider or reconsider how, and when, you engage with change managers to make your apps amazing. Because it doesn't happen by accident. 

If you want to hear more from Angeliki you can follow her on LinkedIn and book yourself a ticket to the Scottish Summit conference. You'll find links and resources in the show notes for this episode AmazingApps.Show/115.

 Angilika Patsiavou, welcome to the Amazing Applications podcast. It's great to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us. 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Thank you for having me. It's an honour.

Neil Benson: I wonder if you could just take a moment to introduce yourself, let us know who you are and where you're from and how you've been [00:02:00] involved in the Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 community. 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Great question. I would love to. As you say, my name is Angeliki Patsiavou. Professionally speaking, I'm currently a change consultant with Avanade uh, been there fresh among quite fresh, actually almost three months. 

And who I am outside of that? I'm originally half Greek, half Italian, so very Mediterranean. And I was lucky enough to be raised bilingual. So I got to learn very quickly, both Greek and Italian. Then I also learn English and French so I can easily navigate Europe. And outside of that, I also really do enjoy martial arts and singing as well as songwriting. So quite a lot of hobbies there to keep me busy outside of the tech world.

Neil Benson: Amazing. So this new role you have in Avanade, is that your first role in consulting you were kind of in the business and industry before that. Is that right? 

Angeliki Patsiavou: I was in the industry, but not in consulting in that sense. So all of my professional background is in CRM systems one way or another. Not just Microsoft, generally CRM systems. And I have quite a diverse background in that sense, but, consulting is new for me. So I'm very excited because that's a move I've been wanting to take for a while.

And you know how so many benefits between having the ability to expose yourself to different projects, different clients in different industries, which to me is a massive blessing. Cause I love that diversity. But I'm not new to change management. I was doing this role before in financial services for a couple of years, for Dynamics 365 for a big transformation projects around Dynamics 365.

I kind of fell in love with it. But even before that, I was working with other CRM systems such as Salesforce and Adobe. So I kind of wanted to hit that sweet trifecta and feel like, all right, now, you know, you ha I have a very holistic view of the good, the bad and the ugly, and it's quite fun as well because I get to bring all that diverse experience. But at the same time, I get to learn a lot, now that I can properly focus on the [00:04:00] Microsoft ecosystem.

Neil Benson: Well, Avanade's a great Microsoft partner to start your consulting career with. So you picked a good one there. I've got a lot of friends at Avanade, so 'hello' to anybody listening from Avanade.

I'm really honored to have somebody with a strong change management background onto the show. I think it's not always the topic that most of us think of at the beginning of projects. And in fact, you're presenting at Scottish Summit in a few weeks to encourage more of us to think about change management at the start of projects.

Do you want to tell us about you presentation at Scottish Summit? 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Absolutely. I would love to, and to be honest, this presentation, so I'm a new speaker first time I'll be speaking, and I'm truly, truly honored to be able to do that for such a massive event and also to do it in person. So fingers crossed that doesn't change. And the topic that I chose to talk about is really a big passion and interest area of mine.

Because the the job that I do, I do because I really do believe that there is a value and a real interest in understanding what drives people and how to manage change around that. Maybe an interesting snippet of information for everyone who's listening is that my academic background is in behavioral economics.

So I started out as a math geek who loved to find tools to understand people behave and somehow change it as well. So I somehow always was in a cheesy way destined to become a change manager. And I guess even now I love talking about it, but from a very specific lens, which is change management. So either way the topic is: "I t's a chicken, egg dilemma. What comes first? Should it be product development in CRM systems, or should it be change management?"

Now, if you ask a lot of people, I'm sure they will say that the product needs to be developed first and towards the latter stages then you call in a change specialist to help you either roll out and implement a new system, or even help people adopt updates, new integrations or whatever that may be.[00:06:00] 

And unfortunately, that's one of the myths. Uh, as I'd like to call them that I'd love to dispel through this session as well as many others, hopefully in the future, because there's a real value in being able to work in tandem. So having change manager work in tandem with the development team that are involved in such systems, whether it's Dynamics 365 or other CRM systems. Because at the end of the day, what happens is you have a lot of incredible technical people that are working towards a fantastic solution, but they don't always have the appropriate skills and holistic view to champion the user needs and the user experience.

So what you end up with is something that is very sparkly from a technical perspective. And it just ticks all the boxes in theory, but in practice because you haven't considered the user and what their frustrations are, as well as what drives their needs day to day, you end up with other low or no adoption, complications, frustrations, escalations all sorts of hurdles really. 

If you involve change management much earlier on, which in my opinion should be in pre-sales, then you can minimize all the way to extinct some of those. And at the end of the day that is what we all want to have really, really happy users that not only have adopted the system, but you managed to make an impact and change the conversation and how they view the systems.

Neil Benson: I really like when I read the summary of your presentation, it got me thinking, you know, when we designed the systems, like you said, we quite often have, we do have our users in mind. You know, what features would they really like? We have, we bring the users in and design alongside them, but asking the question, 'What changes in behavior do we want our users to take?' at the start of the project, asking that upfront and then designing the features in response to that question. That's a really interesting design perspective. I'd never considered before. 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Exactly. And I'm really [00:08:00] hopeful that through this session and many more and not just speaking sessions, but even this opportunity that you're giving me today. And thank you again for that. I'm hoping to inspire people to think about it differently because it's a chain effect, right? No one session in the world will be near enough and not even one touch point.

So it needs to be a conversation nudge to, to show people that the real value and to even try it, sometimes it trial and error. And I'm not saying there's a guaranteed methodology there, but I can tell you from a previous experience in my previous role, that by again, I love using in quotes to the terms, just this is a more relatable, but when you do become as a change manager, like myself, best friends with other solution, architects, developers, testers, anyone that could be involved in the product scrum team. And I do know how much you love Scrum, so I'm going to throw a few terms there, but either way, when you do become best friends with them, you're involved all in the same process. You're a part of the same refinement sessions. You go into design together. You look at your, you know, Azure DevOps tickets together, all of these lovely bits and you think, okay, so you gotta be a, for example, they've put up really cool requirements. They've listened to the business. Great. 

But, then you come in as a change manager and reverse engineer the solution and think, okay, so yes, it kind of made sense because the business asked for it, but who's the business really they're usually management. They probably don't touch the systems as much. They're not close to the process. They just know they need things done. But at the end of the day, just saying yes to the business nonstop, without stopping to think and realizing that your end user and your audience might be different. So actually you need a change manager who first of all, understands who the final user is, and not just saying so of who the businesses are, they need to players, but secondly, have some user experience, uh, literally, and at the same time can give you that fresh perspective. 

I think is massively crucial and what I've done in practice, [00:10:00] not just creating new friends, but ultimately I've been involved in things like in-app messaging, whether it's about, guidance messaging within the system, whether it's in app guides, whether it's even errors.

Like I can not tell you the amount of times I had seen business errors that made no sense. It was either random code that was popping up. And obviously that's absolutely disgraceful, but even things that just didn't make sense because, well, the BA didn't think to add an error message, the developer thought, okay, I need to put something in so I just put whatever comes to mind. And then the end user thinks I've no clue what's happening. And when you see it too many times and you're frustrated, escalate, like it's a massive chain reaction. So those things are very important. 

When you delve into a more complicated flow. So let's say you have a lovely Power Automate flow. Happy days. You want to send email notifications. You want to show the cool stuff you're doing with users. And that's awesome. But, all these emails, unless you have some who can really give you a relatable message there, that also is very clear about what either, the actions are for the user, what we want the system to let the user know, and you can just add too much technical jargon. It's not going to work. 

So once again, change management can help you see that. Let me tell you that will save you a lot of other bug fixes, throwaway work. Um, enhancements that will definitely go into later sprints. Cause let, cause these are always nice to haves.

And then yeah, in the meantime you have end users, I will just say, well, until this is fixed, I'm just not going to use it. Bad luck. Tough. So there's all this things.

Neil Benson: You've worked as a professional change manager in a very large deployment at HSBC. It was thousands and thousands of users, scaling that down to smaller projects where there's maybe just tens or hundreds of users. There might not be a professional change management team, or even a change management professional in the organization.

So are you playing that role within Avanade to bring that [00:12:00] expertise to Avanade's clients? Or how can other Microsoft customers and partners think about engaging change management if that's not a core capability that they have in their own organizations? 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Well, this is actually a perfect storm if you ask me and that's why I said it should be part of pre-sales. So let's say they're doing. Uh, and it doesn't just have to CRM systems cause there's a bigger picture here, which is the value of change management regardless. 

So let's say you have a, the classic tenant to tenant migration. Don't we all love a bit of that? So you know, you're part of the pre-sales team, you want to sell this amazing solutions that you want to have in place for the customer or the benefits of consolidating all the fantastic security measures that you might want to bring on top, who knows? 

Change management is not available within the company either because of availability or because there's just not a well-defined role. So it was traditionally maybe handled between internal comms teams and maybe management that had some extra time to spare. But actually this is now a new project than maybe a bigger one that they've handled in the past. 

So absolutely as a business development, especially, you should think about how to get change manager on board from the get go, because as you said, they don't have that specialized resource or they don't have that experience.

So if anything, it's a bigger argument. The idea is though, how do you get a presale specialist to propose as part of the source of work, change management from the get-go, but also engage them from the start because it's a double-edged sword here. It's not just about saying, um, you know, as part of your infamous, you know, source of work document to agree on, we're going to have some change management and this is a deliverable, but you need to actively engage change management from the start.

Because what could also happen is that you don't tell them, but you've over promised and a certain piece of work without really letting someone from that team looking at it. And you might either, either over promise or just not focused on the right kind of work. So it's both about engaging them from the start, but also having an [00:14:00] open line of communication and collaboration all the way from pre-sales to final implementation.

Neil Benson: And for people who maybe want to consider change management as a career path, what type of people do you think make great change managers? Is it people from an HR background, maybe they're users themselves today, maybe they have some kind of team leading responsible. They love helping their teams adopt new ways of working, or is it somebody from a training background, who's been delivering classroom-based training? Where do you think great change managers come from and where do you think the industry or the capability is headed? 

Angeliki Patsiavou: So, this is a great question, I have to say. So I think it's a mixture of everything. Change management can be a very versatile opportunity and it's not exactly about your background.

I would say it's about a set of behaviors that if you possess and you have the willingness to exploit those behaviors, along with whatever diverse background you can bring to the table, you can be a massive asset as a change manager. And I'll give you as an example, my, my own experience. Before joining Avanade, yes, I was doing change management, but that was only for a couple of years. Before that I was for my whole career in digital marketing strategy. My role was something between sales and, um, you know, I've been in a couple of different industries and also it was about how to focus and user experience, how to be able to provide a commercial, um, communication strategy that was both profitable as well as it was really exciting for customers. 

So you might ask, okay, how did you even go from that to change management even though yes, there's a strong comms element to that. And the reality is. It has a lot of common elements, even though people might not say so, as I said, comms is one of it, because of course you need to be able to communicate with different kinds of stakeholders or, or different kinds of audiences.

But also it's about being able to understand what drives people, because how exactly are you going to market something you don't even [00:16:00] understand? And of course marketing is part of CRM systems, anyway. But at the end of the day it's about understanding who your audience is, to be flexible about how to go about that and to ultimately have that commercial as well as user experience led mind at the same time to tackle all interests. So that's the background that you can definitely get. Traditionally it's organizational psychology from what I understand, or training absolutely that as well, but to be honest, I don't think that's the only way to do it. 

I have a lot of colleagues that come from a consulting background, but we're not in change management. HR, as you mentioned, is one of them, sometimes they're technical and they decided to experience something different. And I think that's fantastic as well. Going even from product development to change management or the other way around. 

Ultimately, I can tell you that whoever their background is, it's not just about their backgrounds, it's about being a driver of change, really believing that you can change behaviors, organizations and culture for the better.

Being a champion of the user and how believing in human-centered design. Being able, and that's very key, to translate complex simple. Because I cannot tell you the amount of times that you read BA requirements and you think, 'Is this hieroglyphics?' Because I'm pretty sure I'm reading them. 

And ultimately you have to translate that into some kind of release notes. So you really have to be able to do it. 

You're in a network builder. So you're building relationships left, right, and center like second nature. 

You are nudging everyone to change, but in a way that is relatable and meaningful to them. And you are the person that has the bigger picture can see that holistic can have that holistic view and see that there's something out there that makes sense for everyone. You just have to find the right messaging for it. 

These are the kinds of behaviors in it. As I said, if you have those behaviors and you believe you can do so with whatever your background is and a passion for technology. Absolutely. Then why not? I really don't see a [00:18:00] hurdle in it.

Neil Benson: And you mentioned this is your first presentation, your first conference speaking opportunity. What inspired you to grasp this nettle and present at Scottish Summit?

Angeliki Patsiavou: Great question. 

I hope through the answer, I'm going to inspire more people because that's kind of how it happened to me as well. 

The story is that, uh, just over half a year ago, I was blessed to be introduced to the Microsoft community through the power of friends. I got to meet a lot of people that are either MVPs or just very active participants in the Microsoft community. MCTs as well. And at the time I was considering leaving my previous role because I really wanted to focus in tech and not be pigeonholed in a specific industry, even though I was really enjoying it anyway. 

And I suddenly saw that these people were not only active participants through user groups. So they were going to so many conferences, they were speakers and also they were really passionate about what they were doing. And I can really relate because I'm a very passionate person myself and also, I can talk a lot. 

And I thought, you know what, actually, that might be a very natural progression somehow. So it took me, don't get me wrong, it took me a while to find the courage. I had a lot of people tell me, you know what? I think you're very natural at this. You would enjoy it. And I think you'd be really good at telling people a different story.

Change management is not a traditional topic. So I thought, why not start a difference? So why not start a bit of a wave of change? Pun intended. Eventually, and I do have a few mentors in the community, um, so someone of a very good friends and an MVP, Elder Grootenboer, convinced me through a lot of conversations that it was the right time. So the first thing I did is attended South Coast Summit back in October. And I was really inspired by all the sessions all the different speakers and their charisma on stage.

So I kind of started aspiring to that, but also saw there was a real market gap. Hundreds of sessions. Only two change management sessions. And I thought that was such a [00:20:00] shame. And kind of want to change that. I want to put the story out there and hopefully start a little bit of a wave of change. And at the same time, get people inspired to start their own speaking journey.

It's about changing your mentality from, 'I can't do this, this is not for me' to, 'there's a whole word network of untapped opportunities there. Why don't you explore it?' And this is a Microsoft community and its power. So bottom line. I'm really excited to kind of get into this, but also to be involved more even today's opportunity.

I'm honored and excited to be here today. This is one of the really cool stuff that you can do within the community to connect with incredible experts such as yourself, and to really talk about a lot of different topics center, fresh perspective, right? Because at the end of the day, that's what makes life more interesting.

Neil Benson: Yeah. Good. Good for you for being brave enough to take on the presentation at Scottish Summit. It is a fantastically well supported and attended conference, so it's a great opportunity to get up there for the first time on stage. Good on you. I know that Janet Robb from Microsoft will be there, think she's involved in delivering the keynote presentation. She's a big change management fan, uh, has worked in Customer Success at Microsoft. 

We've got people like Sharon Connelly here in Australia, who's a change manager at AMP, another big financial services organization. She's also a Microsoft MVP and a champion for change as well. I'd love to see you really pick up that mantle and help us all become more understanding of the capability and the professionalism that change managers bring to our business applications projects. 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Absolutely. Ultimately we start conversations. I'm not saying we're going to finish them because it's a collaborative effort. There's a lot of people involved in delivering brilliant CRM systems, but we start conversations that others don't or don't have the courage to. It's a really exciting journey.

It's not perfect and it's not easy, but I think it's [00:22:00] one getting in a worse, getting involved.

Neil Benson: We'll include links to your Scottish Summit presentation and your own bio and everything. Is there anything else you'd like us to include or mention on the podcast before we wrap up? 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Yes. I'm hoping through this podcast, I managed two things. First of all, inspire people to start their own public speaking journey, but also their involvement with the Microsoft community. There's so many opportunities out there to connect to with equally fascinated colleagues. But also inspire people that are not as technical to both come to your podcast and get out there. It's really, really daunting. And that, that was my biggest hurdle, initially. I felt that imposter syndrome day and night, that I just didn't belong somehow because I wasn't technical enough or because it didn't have all these certifications, which are brilliant by the way, but ultimately we don't all have to fit the same mould and for everyone who's listening, whatever your background is, you always have something to offer. You just have to believe in yourself and bring the fresh perspective. So those are the two things I'd love to leave everyone with.

Neil Benson: That was great message. Thanks for sharing that. 

Angeliki Patsiavou: Pleasure. Pleasure. Thanks for having me, Neil again.

Neil Benson: I really appreciate you coming on to the show. Thanks so much Angeliki.