October 25, 2012 - 9:35 PM
All of the discussions lately about the utility vs risks of social media, and a recent posting by Christian Buckley on “Preventing Productivity Leakage” got me thinking a bit about how little we have in the way of metrics to measure the utility of systems or the productivity of individuals using them. The value added to our work streams from social media use is assumed to arise from enhanced creativity during collaboration, faster retrieval of relevant information, and the enhanced quality of a document produced or a work place insight gained from system usage. But we have very little in the way of document control metrics, system value metrics, or “added value during document revision” metrics. Without these objective criteria to judge contributions of information processing or knowledge worker activities, how can we know that we are adding value to our work streams?
In imaging systems design and monitoring, for instance, we consider such factors as image size, scanner resolutions, data throughput, bandwidth used, and images filed. These quantify activity and objects, and do not necessarily indicate actual value to the organization, but are objective and measureable. In addition, concepts that have been used in the past to measure organizational productivity, such as Activity Based Costing and Value Stream Mapping can be very useful for measuring financial factors in manufacturing processes, for example. But there seem to be no widely acknowledged and accepted measures of added value to organizations that come from better document control, improved version tracking, assured application of retention rules, and enhanced compliance with security, privacy, and legal constraints. Subjective claims about potential cost and risk aversion seem to be the only answers.
Thus a question arises when trying to justify new systems and calculate ROI on existing systems – how does one apply any sort of standard objective metrics that can indicate the actual value of the system? The only metrics that are available may be subjective measures regarding how well the system appears to have accomplished its original goals as stated in the requirements specification for the system. So, when one tries to determine the value of the enhanced document control features of a Content Management System or the enhanced collaboration capabilities from the use of Social Media, it is very difficult to do so objectively with any standard metrics.
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