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Measuring what Matters: Using SharePoint analytics to provide clues about business impact

Susan Hanley | July 14, 2014
Practical approach for developing a business metrics plan for SharePoint solutions.

Identify use cases that have meaningful impact

Once you've identified the key business problem that you are trying to solve, the next step is to identify specific use cases where using your SharePoint solution can have an impact on those problems. The collaboration solutions you build with SharePoint can have a large impact on your business, but it's important to be practical when you are choosing use cases - because you are not necessarily going to solve every issue with SharePoint alone. Be practical.

Use case example: Support call deflection

One association project I worked on had a goal of providing a self-service knowledge portal that would allow member organizations to share best practices and learn from others facing similar challenges without always having to depend on engaging with the headquarters team to get answers to simple questions. With limited resources at headquarters, they wanted to be able to focus on more complex issues for their members. One of the impact-based use cases they identified was simple support call deflection. In other words, the use case proposed that reducing the number of simple support calls directed to the headquarters support staff would free the HQ support team up to work on more complex requests because members would find answers to simple questions on their own via the knowledge portal.

This organization was also already maintaining a knowledge base of resources, but at a considerable cost. Another key business goal was to build an online, accessible, and searchable inventory of both curated and crowd-sourced practices. The measurable use case for this business goal was "knowledge resource ownership" to improve the quality of resources available while decreasing the cost of building and maintaining the knowledge base.

Determine the metrics that align with each use case

Each of your use cases should have at least two to three metrics that allow you to create a tangible target objective. For example, in the scenario above, we identified the following metrics for the support call deflection use case:

  • Number of routine support calls
  • Number of complex support calls
  • Number of successful searches for online content by members (searches with at least one result)
  • Number of "0 results" searches

The first two metrics were already being captured by the support team. If our solution is going to demonstrate business value, we would want the first number to decrease. We might, however, expect the second number to increase - and measuring the impact of that outcome might ultimately be tied to an improvement in member satisfaction, yet another overall business goal. The second two measures are system metrics that serve as proxies for business value. If users consistently get relevant results for their queries, then the solution should be delivering value. The only way to know for sure, which is why the system metrics only provide clues about value, is to explore search outcomes directly with searchers to determine the specific business value of results found.


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