Metrics aren’t hard to come by, in fact it’s just the opposite, anything can be a metric and that’s a part of the problem. Organizations today are struggling with trying to understand what they should be measuring and looking at when it comes to enterprise collaboration. Should they be looking at how many employees are using tools or how many comments are being submitted? What about how many groups are created or how many ideas are submitted? Most vendors offer these types of metrics as a part of their reporting and there’s nothing wrong with looking at these metrics if they are the ones you have identified as measures of success.
At the same time though a part of me has always wondered, why bother looking at any metrics at all? Do they matter? Would organizations not invest in collaborative tools and strategies without these metrics? Based on the report that Chess Media Group released last year we found that 60% of organizations didn’t define any type of KPIs around their collaboration initiatives and out of the 25% of those who did (15% said they don’t know) around half of them don’t know how they are doing on those metrics. So why bother measuring at all? These companies are still getting budget approval and support for these initiatives regardless of metrics.
It’s hard to imagine a few years down the road where organizations would not be investing in these tools and strategies. I mean what company doesn’t want to connect their employees and information together to help improve communication and collaboration? I’m just not sure how much some of these metrics are going to be valued in the future when these emergent collaboration tools become the standard way to work.
Bob Kaplan, author of Strategy Maps, wrote the following:
None of these intangible assets has value that can be measured separately or independently. The value of these intangible assets derives from their ability to help the organization implement its strategy. . . .Intangible assets such as knowledge and technology seldom have a direct impact on financial outcomes such as increased revenues, lowered costs, and higher profits. Improvements in intangible assets affect financial outcomes through chains of cause-and-effect relationships.
But I digress…
Organizations looking to measure anything should be tying their metrics back to their objectives, this isn’t collaboration specific it applies to anything in business. Keep in mind that there are two ways to measure success by using hard data or anecdotal data. If as an organization your goal is to improve communication within your organization you can measure this by looking at quarterly or bi-yearly employee surveys where you can ask if employees feel that communication is being improved. If your measure of success is looking at employee adoption rates then any vendor you go with should be able to give you these numbers as a part of their offering.
As I like to say, collaboration is a part of the sauce that makes business work and it’s hard to look at one ingredient and assign it a specific value. If it weren’t for a collaboration platform would that wonderful cost cutting idea that an employee submitted not have discovered and implemented? Maybe. What about the fact that your employees were able to use a technology platform to collaborate on a project document that resulted in a closed deal, would that too not have happened had it not been for the collaboration problem? Who knows.
Not every organization looks at all these metrics and if that’s ok for them then fine. But for those organization who are interested in looking at metrics then don’t waste your time looking at things that don’t tie back to the goals you set out achieve. In fact, if you want to break these metrics down you can look at primary and secondary metrics. For example if the primary metric is improved communication then a secondary metric (which is related to the first one) can look at employee adoption rates.
Focus on the metrics that matter not just on the ones you can measure.
(Cross-posted @ Social Business Advisor: Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0)