To deal with this measurement challenge, we need to first recognise that organisations are typically blind to the benefits of social software. Conventional management thinking (and financial management practices) prefer simple aggregate data, but enterprise social software provides a potential solution for a myriad of organisation problems. The true value of solving these problems can only be calculated by identifying the cumulative benefit of each after the fact – and even collecting that data has a cost.
As a result, any measurement model for enterprise social software must deal with the following issues:
The cost of measurement must not outweigh the benefits.
Measurement must be based on visible data and evidence.
Measures must be linkable to business outcome.
This model can be used at three broad stages:Anticipate – during the development of the business case and requirements, we can anticipate benefits, based on use cases (at Ripple Effect Group, we apply a user-centred design approach to this stage).Base line – as the social software tools are introduced, we need a base line to measure against. This base line can also be used to further argue the case for change with the people who will be using the new social tools.Evaluate – this is an ongoing process of measurement and reporting, however this data needs to be evaluated so that the KPIs can be adjusted in response to emergent outcomes.
People talk about measuring the ROI. But the reality is that who ever controls the underlying assumptions can deliver whatever ROI they want. I have yet to see any enterprise that has gone back to look at the ROI to see if it materializes. It is better to focus on operating metrics. If your issue is lead time to get a bus on the road … you can track that on a daily basis. Then refine the approach. In many case studies on companies, very few had gone back and measured whether they actually achieved the projected success.