Monday, October 5, 2009

How Do You Measure SharePoint - Metrics for Business Users

It goes without saying, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. This is not always so easy on SharePoint from a business user perspective. It’s easier for the server administrators as they can measure uptime, total users, space used etc. But how do business users put SharePoint on their balanced scorecards?

The trick is to have measured from the beginning. It is much harder to measure benefit when you are months or years into your project. If you are, don’t worry; just keep this in mind for future sites on SharePoint. But sites are never “finished”, so you could start from today if you need to.

When determining metrics, you’ll need to demonstrate that your site / project is meeting and supporting business objectives. Management are going to want to know how SharePoint is adding value. Ask yourself, if someone had to justify to you why you should continue to invest in SharePoint (whether by upgrades, resources, enterprise licensing, training or 3rd party tools), what would you want to hear?

There are two aspects to take into consideration, quantitative (numeric information), and qualitative (non numeric information). In other words, the number of clients that have visited your site (quantitative), and their current happiness level by the survey they completed (qualitative).

Don’t give quantitative accounts without a bottom line to demonstrate the time / money savings, for example : “I used to have to email my whole team to get feedback, then collate all the responses, it is much easier now”.

That doesn’t mean much to business decision makers, however : “I used to send email to 15 team members, then have to collate their responses and publish the results to management. I now send one email and the responses are captured by the team members themselves in a custom list saving me 3 hours of work per week. At my current rate of R100 per hour, I effectively save the company R15600 per year on this task alone”. These are metrics management can understand and appreciate.

To do any of this, you first you need to establish a baseline, snapshot where you are now, then decide what you are going to measure and how often. A good idea is to look at your organization or department’s current key performance indicators. Think about how your site impacts or supports these indicators. (If they don’t, maybe you need to rethink your site content and what you are trying to achieve).

Like most things in life, you need balance. Make sure you aren’t spending more time collecting metrics from SharePoint than doing other work. Remember too that realizing that value of SharePoint takes time. Simply installing the product does not constitute a successful project. Company-wide user adoption with the proper use of the functionality using best practices with successful retrieval of information quickly does.

Some things you could measure; if you have more to add, please feel free to comment accordingly. Remember to translate all time saved into a monetary value per week, month and / or year. Obviously depending on what you are responsible for in SharePoint will affect what you are going to report on, Site Owners will be different to Site Collection Administrators and those responsible for the entire implementation.

• Site stats – take a screen dump of the usage analysis on your site every month. It is available out of box under Site Actions – Site Settings – Modify All Settings. This will show how effective your site is in disseminating information as well as identify dormancy.

• Put a hit counter onto your site, (out of box SharePoint Designer web component). Take screen dumps every month so you can monitor increased visits. When you report, mention you reached X number of people in the space of X months. Keep track of the stats per month and do some nice graphs at the end of the year to impress your decision makers.

• Take screen dumps every time you change the look and feel and note how long it took to achieve each one. Management tend to hugely under-estimate how long it takes to do things on SharePoint, you need to prove what you have been up to. Also say how you’ve improved the site with each version – you did it in response to a survey on the content for example.

• How long it took to retrieve the right documentation from a file share as opposed to now on SharePoint.

• The number of sub folders you had on a file share compared to SharePoint. (You replaced all sub-folders with metadata effectively making the top level folder the one point of truth for uploading documents, and saving X time for users to get to information, and reduced the number of clicks by X.

• If you work with Excel spreadsheets and converted them to lists on SharePoint, demonstrate how you saved X time collating reports / data from users who before had to fill in the spreadsheet and mail it back, where-after you had to collate that information and send out reports. Say reports took X hours / days / weeks to complete one report, whereas now multiple reports are updated simultaneously by using different views for multiple managers on one list. Reports are now available 24/7 as the team update the list, as opposed to weekly or monthly once someone had compiled them.

• If you are in charge of cleaning up data from file shares or sites on SharePoint, note how many search results turned up a topic as opposed to after cleaning up the data. Mention also how the use of metadata has made for a more effective SharePoint solution as a result.

• Convert single documents in document libraries into wikis and again take note of the amount of clicks saved with anecdote about better use of information.

• If you have a SharePoint community of practice site (which is good idea), and it has how to’s, common errors, and training material; determine how long it took to educate your user base as opposed to after you had the site. So before you had to sit with new users for X time, now you just refer them to your site and the turnaround time has dropped by X time. Users now do self diagnostic by referring to the error repository and how to’s instead of calling the helpdesk or primary administrator – keep track of how call numbers have decreased as users become more confident and able due to your information sharing.

• If you are the SharePoint champion in the organization, have metrics like having to send out minimum 52 emails a year with SharePoint tips or tricks or news, have to host 6 user groups internally to grow the user base and contribute to user adoption, must conduct 3 satisfaction surveys per year – after each one, record how things have improved or declined then make it part of your next scorecard to address the results and how you plan to do that.

• Have a ‘give us feedback’ section on every site – it will encourage staff to participate. Keep stats on how many people did comment compared to X months later – you are contributing to user adoption and encouraging a collaborate environment (not easy when that is not the inherent culture).

• For administrators, monitor the number of sites, space and users – report on the growth per month as well as the activity of the sites. Report on number of dormant sites – then if you are involved in the training of users as well, how many fewer dormant sites there were after your training.

• A big winner is saving on email which costs organizations a fortune. Specify how many mails used to go out with attachments compared to now. You only send hyperlinks to documents on SharePoint, it has prevented many duplications of documentation going around the company and provided one point of truth. Also state that your policy is to only send out summary Alert Me’s from SharePoint thereby also saving the amount of emails going to staff giving them more time to concentrate on their jobs.

• Monitor the number of documents being uploaded. At the end of a given time period, say there was a X% increase of uploaded content, (if the content doesn’t have decent metadata and naming standards this could work against you, so make sure you have educated your teams properly in following best practices).

• Keep track of the number of responses to discussion forums vs surveys and report on how your study showed that either one is a more effective communication tool. Again, report on the number of responses vs the number of staff, do percentages, before and after the baseline.

Determining metrics effectively is dependent on the right approach being taken from the start. Don’t ask what SharePoint can do for you; ask what you can do for SharePoint! In other words, first you need to identify your business issues, analyse your “as is” situation, decide and document the ideal world scenario, think about how departments get information from each other, how well teams collaborate willingly and how information is found. How are you planning on retrieving your information a year-plus from now? Once you have taken all these into factor, apply the right functionality in SharePoint to each process – then measure it.

Here is a list extracted from Essential SharePoint 2007 by Scott Jamison, Mauro Cardarelli and Susan Hanley on what else to measure and how :

Objective : Maximize the reuse of best practices across the enterprise, enabling the organization to replicate successful business practices in all geographies.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – number of downloads of best practices or reusable assets. Qualitative – usage anecdotes where users can describe in quantitative terms how a SharePoint asset that they reused contributed to business objectives.
Capture Frequency : Monthly
Issues and Challenges : Frequent downloads are a proxy for content value, indicating that the content is delivering value to users. Gathering anecdotes is a labour intensive process and may require some creativity to obtain. You may want to consider a success story contest (with prizes) to get SharePoint users to share high-quality success stories.
Target : Look for an upward trend in the number of downloads for new content or portals. Look for steady state activity in more mature environments. Targets should be set based on the maturity of the solution and the strategic importance of the content. Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.

Objective : Improve time to market for proposals and contracts.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – average proposal or contract development time.
Capture Frequency : Ideally captured for each proposal or contract then compiled (averages) on a semiannual or annual basis.
Issues and Challenges : This measure will be easiest to capture if it is already a key performance measurement for the enterprise.
Target : Trend downward from baseline. Target might also be a specific percentage of time reduction.

Objective : Reduce training costs for enterprise applications.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – total training costs for enterprise applications.
Capture Frequency : Annual.
Issues and Challenges : Some organizations justify their SharePoint investment solely on the reduction in training costs. The assumption is that most users are not ‘power users’ of enterprise applications. Instead of investing in full training programs for these users, you only need to train them in the use of the portal, not each enterprise application.
Target : Percentage of absolute reduction in training expenses for enterprise applications.

Objective : Provide an organised ‘one stop shop’ for information for SharePoint users that help them reduce information overload.
Possible Measure : Qualitative – usage anecdotes where users can describe in quantitative terms how using SharePoint has improved their productivity.
Capture Frequency : Monthly.
Issues and Challenges : Gathering anecdotes is a labour intensive process and may require some creativity to obtain. Consider using the built-in SharePoint survey capability. Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.
Target : Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.

To put this into further context, this is an example of what I had on my scorecard last year for one of my duties as SharePoint champion and responsible for the communication of all things SharePoint :

Measure : Prepare and publish newsletters and articles, establish website, participate and present artefacts to business units and interest groups.

Source : Website, emails, surveys, minutes, site usage stats.

Targets : D Performer – 400 people reached, C performer – 600 people reached, B performer – 800 people reached, A performer – 1000 people reached.

Target Dates : Make SharePoint Community of Practise site part of the Get Fit for IT Program (June); Host 5 user groups or knowledge cafes (November); send 8 newsletters (December); conduct 2 satisfaction surveys (December).

Hope this helps.

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