Measuring the ROI of SharePoint Activity

In preparation for a January 19th webinar I will conducting with the CardioLog Analytics team, I've been thinking about the history of SharePoint analytics — but more importantly, what it means to measure the return on investment (ROI) of your collaboration activities. It's the difference between tracking the activity and output metrics of your SharePoint environment (number of unique visitors, number of documents uploaded, number of files shared, and so forth), which is what most people monitor and measure, and the actual value of the collaboration happening within your environment.

Quantitative measurements are easy. Qualitative measurements can be really difficult to capture, as the results can be very subjective. What are you measuring? What needs to be monitored? But more importantly, how do you define success, and therefore how do your quantitative measurements move you toward your business goals?

Activity-based metrics are still important, as you'll want to prove out basic adoption of your environment, track how search is being used within your environment, where it is effective and not, and where you can optimize design. Historical patterns can tell you a lot about the trends in usage, especially as you add functionality, change design, or track influencers within various sites and communities within your organization. The out-of-the-box (OOTB) reports that are available within SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 will help provide better visibility over your content consumption.

OOTB usage reports in SharePoint:

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OOTB search reports in SharePoint:

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While these OOTB reports may not help you reach your ROI measurement goals, they are the right place to begin. In addition, they are extensible for 3rd party solution providers, with partners like Intlock and their CardioLog Analytics products leveraging what SharePoint provides, but providing much richer data analysis — and the ability to link your SharePoint data to other metrics, such as Yammer usage. One of the clearest examples of ROI measurement which Intlock provides is their goal tracking capability — which can monitor and measure conversion activities to ensure that your SharePoint environment is achieving your business objectives. According to their site:

Goal tracking is the first step toward assessing the impact of your portal and making sure it fulfills its potential. Goals and funnels help you measure how good your intranet portal is at its job. You can establish individual goals to track specific actions people take on your portal – from conducting a search to downloading a document or posting a comment on your forum. A funnel allows you to specify a path you expect your users to take in order to achieve that goal, and CardioLog Analytics can track the point at which people enter and exit that route, whether they continue to the final goal or drop out of the process.

You can find more details on CardioLog Analytics goal tracking here.

For organizations who are making / have made the journey to the cloud, the Office 365 content pack (in preview) enables you to use the reporting and analytics capabilities of PowerBI to monitor, measure and analyze the various collaboration workloads and figure out how best to maximize your ROI. The Office 365 reporting tools that are rolling out, and specifically the Delve Analytics capability, are some of the most exciting features (IMO) coming out of Microsoft in the next 6 months. While the Delve Analytics features are focused initially on personal productivity, with the data and relationships tracked via the Microsoft Graph and through SharePoint, organizations will have more options available to them to shape their ROI metrics.

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Of course, you cannot manage everything by spreadsheet. Data should be used to inform, understand, and validate. Your quantitative measurements should supplement your qualitative measurements, giving you a data-driven view into what is happening — and guiding you toward making the right business decisions. You can track knowledge worker productivity, hardware or software effectiveness, license usage, planning and implementation costs, and support effort and cost required to maintain your platforms — all of which are quantitative measurements — but they won't be able to tell you if your employees are therefore more innovative, which might be your primary ROI driver.

Measuring ROI is a subjective activity, requiring equal parts intuition, experience, and iteration. The hardest part is getting started.

If you're interested in this topic, we invite you to join the joint Beezy / Intlock webinar on the topic on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 at 8am PST as we discuss "The Nuts and Bolts of Measuring SharePoint Activity." You can register here.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.