Companies are hesitant to make technology purchases during tough economic times. According to Gartner, the technology industry is exiting its worst year ever, and will return to slight growth in 2010 with technology spending increasing 3.3 percent. This makes calculating expected return on investment (ROI) before making a purchase very important.
When it comes to enterprise content management (ECM), this can seem like an elusive goal. How do you equate the business benefits of ECM, like productivity and smaller storage space, to dollars and cents?
Here are six critical areas to measure and track the ROI of your ECM system:
Workplace productivity is one of the most important measures of business success. Successful organizations effectively use workforce, technology and innovation to improve customer service, decision making and quality of goods. ECM systems can drastically cut the time needed to get work done, freeing employees to focus on more important and revenue-generating tasks.
Western Forest Products, an integrated Canadian forest products company, uses an ECM system and invoice workflow. It saves nearly $20,000 per month, with improved turnaround times and reduced errors. The accounts payable process was labor-intensive and awash in paper. Every day, more than 700 invoices were received at the company's headquarters in Duncan, British Columbia and more than 20 other remote sites from thousands of suppliers. Now, invoice processing time is cut from a week to less than one day.
2. Storage space and costs
Time spent, transportation costs and gas emissions affiliated with shipping hard-copy documents from multiple locations or to offsite storage can be greatly reduced with ECM. Offsite document storage facilities also require additional energy to light, heat, cool and maintain.
California's Manteca Unified School District shaved $300,000 annually by scanning archived documents and making student files securely accessible online. The school eliminated 200 filing cabinets, freeing up spaces for new classrooms (see video).
3. Search time
Searching for information is very time consuming. In 2008, 85 percent of workers said that not being able to access information at the right time was a huge time-waster. (LexisNexis® Workplace Productivity Survey, 2008.) If an employee can find quickly find information using an ECM system the freed-up time can be refocused on other business priorities.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission maintained 50 four-drawer lateral files to store paper documents, but after installing an ECM system, now only keeps one. Additionally, four full-time staffers who built paper files were redeployed to new positions.
4. Customer service
Customer service is the lifeblood of business. Improved response time and efficient business processes can greatly impact a customer's experience and loyalty.
Insurance administrator OwnerGUARD (see video), stores and shares claims electronically. They reduced turnaround times by 47 percent, and now provide quicker customer services, increased satisfaction rates and save more than $8,000 monthly on printing and toner costs.
To maintain compliance, many business documents must be kept secure and confidential, yet easily accessible. A lot of time is spent copying, filing, retrieving documents, with increasing office space devoted to file storage.
With ECM, content is housed in a secure Web repository, accessible 24/7 that can be searched by keywords (case numbers, client names, or other user-designated fields). ECM can also decrease the risk of paying thousands of dollars in fines due to inability to comply in a timely or complete fashion; and establish up-to-date document permissions so the right people can access the right information.
6. Telecommuting and Green Concerns
With ECM, employees have instant access to information from anywhere. Virtual teaming is significantly easier as it allows colleagues across the hallway or across the globe to share business-critical information internally or externally.
According to InfoTrends, 90 percent of companies underestimate or don't know their true document production costs; although they may spend up to 15 percent of revenues on document-related activities (up to 3 percent on output costs alone). (InfoTrends, Inc. and ALL Associates Group, "Assessing and Benchmarking Document Costs: Developing a Future Document Strategy," March 2006.)
Using ECM, Nevada County (Calif.) eliminated nearly 65,000 trips to county buildings annually, saving the district on the skyrocketing cost of gas. This also reduced auto emissions by 7.5 tons and the miles driven annually (between locations to fetch paper files) by nearly 3 million, resulting in less wear and tear on roads.
About the Author
David Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president, general manager, for Xerox DocuShare. He has more than 20 years of experience in content and document management, imaging, and multifunctional hardware.
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