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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.

Tip: A very easy way to do this, by the way, is to include an opportunity for users to provide search results feedback directly on the search results page. Another way to do this is to send out periodic search impact surveys where you specifically ask users what they were able to find and what they did with the results (i.e., how they measured the impact of what they were able to find).

For the second use case in the example above, to increase the shared ownership of knowledge resources, we identified the following metrics:

  • Number of assets contributed by the association: This metric was expected to decrease over time, to demonstrate that the membership was actively engaged in building the repository.
  • Number of assets contributed by members: This metric was expected to increase steadily over the first year. An increase in member-contributed assets, especially if the contributions were distributed across many members, is an indicator of engagement on the part of the membership as well as interest in creating sustainable value, an important business goal.
  • Number of members contributing at least one asset: The goal for this metric was to ensure that at least 50 percent of the membership contributed something within the first year.
  • Percent of registered members (users with a profile) who posted or replied to posts in an online conversation: This metric was particularly important in this example because the solution that SharePoint was replacing, a traditional listserv, was very active but tended to be dominated by a small number of "loud voices." The goal of this metric was to continuously monitor participation to both ensure that the conversations weren't dominated by a small group but also to identify potential members who the association might want to pro-actively encourage to engage.

Choose the metrics you want to capture in terms of the use cases that are of highest interest to your stakeholders and their business objectives. The metrics in my examples may be completely irrelevant in your organization - especially if you don't share the same business goals. It's also important to pick a small number of metrics that are both relevant to the business and have a more direct relationship to business outcomes - and can be collected at a relatively low cost.

Understand your baseline and establish a target

One major mistake people often make in documenting their measures of success with SharePoint is that they try to demonstrate business impact without knowing where they started. This approach is doomed to failure. You need to have a good baseline (starting point) or you will have no ability to measure progress. If you don't have a great baseline measure-or it's too late to get one- capture you initial metrics when you launch your solution.


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