Return on investment in a corporate social network (part 1)

    How were the opinions of manufacturers themselves divided on assessing the benefits of using a corporate social network


    ? I thought about this topic for a long time - in view of its breadth, ambiguity, controversy, and topicality. I met a lot of opinions and even more criticism of the assessment approaches, as a result it all came down to one thing - you either believe in the correctness of the approach or you don't believe. Often, for this reason, each organization decides to calculate the benefits of introducing a corporate social network in its own way. Some organizations conduct a promising IT project through a budget committee with a strict payback period during the year, while others rely on the providence of a new top manager who raised the informatization flag.

    But even those who go through the budget committee either believe in the expected figures of cost-effectiveness and efficiency, or believe that this is dancing with tambourines - the main thing is that the topic be approved. What do information technologies in general and the corporate social network in particular give? Saving money? Efficiency? Innovation? New quality? And how is this refracted during a crisis? And for what period should the profit from the implemented solution be calculated?

    The conclusion from the above is that - about the return on investment, you can write several posts, and we will do so. Today, as a warm-up, I will give a few opinions on the topic of return on investment from our respected developers.

    Jive software

    Based on the implementation experience, KSS suppliers identify a number of success criteria for the implementation project. They all agree on three things: support for leaders, vision of business value, community management. And then interesting nuances begin.
    The Jive team identifies the following success criteria when implementing their solutions: critical business initiative, executive sponsorship, ROI defined, implementation plan, deep and wide use cases. That is, according to Jive, the availability of investment return calculation is necessary from the very beginning of the project. No sooner said than done. External Community Business Value Calculator is an example of a return investment assessment for external Jive communities.


    I recall a story when the IT director of a Russian bank, at the request of the financial director, requested a calculation of the return on investment when introducing Yammer. Already according to a formed habit of the “ask Yammer” type, I decided to ask the European colleagues from the Yammer team if they have similar calculations. And again they surprised me. Firstly, they told me, if the customer asks for a return on investment from the corporate social network, then he misunderstands its essence, which consists primarily in supporting the transformation of the company. And secondly, the interest in the solution on the European market is so great that it is possible to work with those customers who most want to achieve a result than drown in the calculation of benefits, in short, let's grab low hanging fruits, “let your customer ripen and take care of others. "
    Yammer, however, has indicators to measure project success. But unlike Jive, we are talking about the ability to determine non-financial performance indicators based on the implementation and use of a corporate social network.

    Ibm connections

    I am sure that IBM has serious achievements in calculating the return on investment of various IT solutions. Vendor conferences, as a rule, are aimed at managers and heads of organizations who are interested in learning about the results of applying IBM solutions. But what is interesting: those presentations about IBM Connections that I heard were presented in the form of personal effectiveness, aimed at achieving personal results and have a strong emotional connotation.


    1C-Bitrix has an excellent training course Implementation of a corporate portal . I built the company's opinion on evaluating the effectiveness of the corporate portal on the quotes from this course, the chapter Implementing a Corporate Portal .
    Portal tools save time. But the reality is that no type of business can load its employees 100%, and only in this case we can talk about dependence or at least some correlation of small increments of time (~ 1%), which gives a corporate portal, and the main business parameters (revenue and costs). The implementation of the corporate portal does not directly affect these parameters. Therefore, it is hardly worth talking with these leaders with company executives about the effectiveness of introducing a corporate portal.
    ... if it is not clear how the real financial gain depends on the time saved, then where in this case to look for efficiency? Winning is in quality. The introduction of the corporal in all its diversity can change the company’s characteristics that are difficult to translate into rubles. However, they are extremely important for business owners, for top managers, for specialists and ordinary employees.
    There is such a job for managers - to work with incidents, failures in critical chains of business processes, failures that, like an avalanche, sometimes cling to and demolish nearby plans, schedules and agreements. One of the company's most valuable resources, the time of the leader, is spent on the analysis of such situations. And the higher the level of leadership, the more valuable this resource. And not because this time costs “X” rubles of his salary, but because if you take the TOP manual, then this time is taken away from strategic planning, from thinking over vector-forming decisions, from negotiations. And it’s almost impossible to evaluate this potential energy, the result of a mistake or defect in these areas is stagnation or the collapse of the company, and not a “performance assessment”.
    Summary: Of course, when launching the internal project “Implementation of the corporate portal” it is necessary to build a system of goals and KPI for management and control, but it is not advisable to evaluate the effectiveness and payback of this investment in relation to the revenue / cost pair. "


    As Russian customers often ask about return on investment, DaOffice went ahead and took the Forrester Research's model for calculating the return on investment of The Total Economic Impact . Within the framework of the model, productivity growth through time saving is calculated. Firstly, the more involved an employee becomes, the less time he spends on fulfilling his routine duties - searching, meetings, etc. Secondly, the better communication in the company, the less duplication of projects occurs and projects are implemented at lower cost. And thirdly, social adaptation reduces the cost of training new employees.
    Like 1C-Bitrix, DaOffice also believes that it is impossible to completely convert the time saved into new features and therefore offers a 50% discount: we spend half of the time saved, half work.


    In his book “ What the business wants from IT ”, Terry White describes the three functions of information technology in an enterprise: 1) maintaining a business impulse using IT, 2) improving business results and 3) taking on the role of a leader. If we turn to the above opinions of manufacturers, then the corporate network may be in demand in each of these functions. An interesting variety of approaches, right?

    To be continued ...

    Vladimir Ivanitsa

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