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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.

The metrics we can easily capture from SharePoint, with or without third-party tools, do not typically measure what matters most. Employees care about working efficiently. Managers care about operating metrics. Executives care about financial metrics. Most organizations already have measurement programs in place to track these critical business metrics. But, the system metrics we can capture from SharePoint and third-party toolscan provide us with some really great clues that can help get to the real business value of our SharePoint solutions. In this post, I'd like to explore a methodology to use to think about how you can use system metrics to provide clues to help identify and improve both the adoption and business impact of your SharePoint solution. There are five key elements to this methodology:

  • Understand the business problem you are trying to solve
  • Identify use cases that have meaningful impact
  • Determine the metrics that align with each use case
  • Understand your baseline and establish a target
  • Measure and monitor: be prepared to change

Understand the business problem you are trying to solve

To get credibility in the organization, we need to ensure that the solutions we build with SharePoint demonstrate a positive impact on business metrics--and not just in a soft or indirect way. This means that we need a comprehensive understanding of the business problem we are trying to solve. This is especially true if we are implementing the social computing features of SharePoint. One of the reasons many "social" solutions fail to gain traction is due to the fact that they are disconnected from the key challenges that drive our organization. For example, they are not promoted as a solution or an enabler of a major organizational initiative. So, as a first step, we need to make sure we have a clear (and documented) understanding of the real business problems we are trying to solve.

If you aren't addressing an important or valuable business problem with your SharePoint solution, you need to go back to the beginning to find that problem, as well as a business sponsor who is committed to solving that problem. Be sure that you are tying your SharePoint solution to a key organizational initiative or goal. If not, you are working on a "side show" project-one whose funding is going to be at risk no matter what your measurement program concludes.

Another reason to have a clear connection to business goals is to help make decisions about which potential SharePoint project(s) to implement. All organizations have limited time, budget, and resources, and most find that there are more possible projects for the SharePoint team than can possibly be accomplished. Therefore, it's important to have a framework for differentiating among opportunities that are competing for scarce resources.

 

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