Virtual Reality (VR) became a critical ally to an organization suffering from a systemic lack of self-awareness, as was the case of the Indiana Department of Child services (INDCS) at the end of 2017. INDCS is a state government organization focused on serving the most vulnerable population in our community, protecting children from child abuse and neglect, and ensuring that financial resources — through child support — provide a stable home. Many organizations, in both the public and private sectors, suffer from a lack of diversity and inclusion at the decision maker and thought leadership levels, which accurately reflects the workforce as well as the customer base. For years, organizations have used data, and more recently, analytics to bridge the gaps caused by a lack of diversity and inclusion. INDCS was not excluded from that list.

INDCS hired new leadership that implemented Lean methodologies, and proactively began to build an Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) platform. Building EPM begins by developing the organization’s existing data into Business Intelligence (BI). Defining the intimate nuances of the sociotechnical enterprise’s relationships between people, process and technology to formulate Business Analytics (BA), which combined with BI and VR, became the foundation of the INDCS EPM platform. In 2018, EPM helped INDCS realized that the gaps between who they thought they were as an organization was far different from who they were based on data.

Employee engagement is one of the critical pillars of true EPM that ensures an organization’s ability to achieve its mission and fulfill its vision. In the case of INDCS, the Family Case Manager (FCM) role represents 80% of the workforce, and is the front line, the very foundation of achieving the mission and fulfilling the vision, centered on the protecting the lives and well-being of our most vulnerable population. Recruiting and retaining talent stabilizes the continuity of business operations and ensures timely and positive outcomes for children and families. At the end of 2017, INDCS’ turnover rate was close to 50% in the FCM role, at a cost of $60M to $72M per year. It was easy for INDCS to accept the general hypothesis that the FCM role’s salary was not commensurate with the role’s responsibilities, versus facing the truth about its organizational need for top-down enterprise transformation.

The journey to become an evidence-based, decision-making organization continued, capturing situational awareness data that would reveal gaps between who we really were as an organization and who we desired to be. INDCS began by leveraging cloud-based technologies, such as Salesforce and MuleSoft to collect human-centric metadata, in the form of responses to exit surveys upon notice of an employee’s resignation. Leveraging the use of cloud-based technologies helped INDCS to ensure a 95% return of a response on all surveys, +- 3%. The empirical analysis of the exit survey responses identified a prominent response that 45% of all respondents stated that the primary reason for leaving was that their pre-employment expectation of the FCM role was different from what they experienced post-employment. In fact, we discovered that salary was not in the top 10 primary reasons for voluntary turn over. Unmet expectations, and a lack of clear direction, as well as a lack of support, were at the top of the list.

The use of VR, augmented reality, and robotic process simulation technologies, across all industries is a successful part of risk management and reduction. At its core, the INDCS business model is one of risk management, risk management being the prevention of loss of life, and the prevention of loss of property. The INDCS business model focuses on the prevention of the loss of life, in our most vulnerable population, and is mandated and regulated by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the United States Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). ACF regulations provide restrictions on the rules of engagement with potential candidates, which restricts INDCS from providing field experience prior to hiring and the appropriate level of training. INDCS implemented Accenture’s AVEnueS VR platform to provide potential candidates and trainees with a completely immersive field experience, which was the perfect use case for the tactic of reducing staff turnover, in support of the strategy of improving employee engagement.

Over 68% of our voluntary staff turnover occurred during their first two years of service, of which 50% occurred during their first full year of service. The data on the first two years of services supported two of the three primary targeted outcomes of implementing AVEnueS VR in lieu of live field experience. The first primary outcome was that INDCS would give potential candidates the opportunity to experience the day in the life as an FCM. This would give the candidate the opportunity to experience the job prior to receiving any potential offers. It would also provide the hiring managers with a view of the raw potential of any candidate during the hiring process. The experience provided a tremendous amount of situational awareness data to all parties. The second primary outcome was that INDCS would be able to provide repeated and continuous field experience that not only provided real time correction of human behavior, but also reduced the impact of the reality of the role, once the trainee entered the real life field experience.

The third outcome focused on improving the quality of the INDCS’ self-awareness. INDCS used VR in its continuous education training, with our tenured FCMs, and was able to identify bias and human behaviors that potentially create negative results in our outcomes.

Building EPM provided INDCS with Who to target, What obstacles need to be overcome, When they should be engaged, Where to focus our efforts, Why we are engaging in this way, and How to engage to meet and exceed our desired outcomes. EPM has been invaluable and is fueling changes in all aspects of our socio-technical enterprise across people, process and technology. Because of the advantages of having access to BI, BA and VR to develop EPM, INDCS saw an 18% reduction in staff turnover in 2019.

Redefining the organization’s self-awareness through building EPM created a tremendous amount of momentum toward INDCS accepting the flaws and inefficiencies as an organization, and moving toward a fully self-realized organization. When INDC was allowed to realize EPM as a tool for continuous improvement, not a weapon, it began to see the marriage between BI, BA and VR to form EPM and the critical self-awareness needed to implement enterprise transformation and continuous improvement across its socio-technical enterprise of people, process, and technology. INDCS overcame a lack of diversity by moving the entire organization toward the same level of self-realization through the transparency of EPM to make evidence- based decisions throughout the enterprise.

KEVIN JONES BIO

Kevin Jones serves as chief information officer and is responsible for providing innovative and transformative solutions to all business process needs and divisional leadership. He manages both CAPEX AND OPEX for the Production, PMO, IT, Development, Operations, Engineering and Customer Support divisions. He is responsible for the organizational transformation of People, Processes and Technology, and the development and implementation of the organization’s IT and business process road maps, mission, strategies and scope for the next five years. His governance has resulted in the adoption of improvement methodologies such as LEAN, ADKAR, Agile, and ITIL service delivery, with a focus on modernization and sustainable, continuous improvement.