Microsoft Office has a stranglehold on business productivity with no signs suggesting a significant shift any time soon. While Office provides a strong toolkit, there is plenty of room for improvement with additional features that help specific user groups. Microsoft, after all, is aiming to please a wide audience which tends to leave feature and workflow gaps.
As a result, a wide ecosystem of partner companies has popped up to fill these gaps, adding even more functionality to Microsoft Office. Realizing that partners play a critical role, Microsoft has fostered the ecosystem with in-depth documentation, an app store (for certain types of add-ins), and even competency certifications.
Often partner companies add functionality with add-ins that bolt onto Office and interact with Office documents. The range of add-ins is endless from a Wikipedia add-in that allows you to conduct Wikipedia searches from Word to our slide search tool, that helps you find and extract individual slides on your computer. Typically, add-ins are accessed through the navigation ribbon in an Office application (e.g. PowerPoint). We’ve previously discussed the benefits of add-ins versus browser-based tools.
Beyond adding functionality, add-ins help drastically reduce the change management effort commonly involved in rolling out a new feature or tool:
Add-ins can be silently deployed and often require no user input during installation
They operate within a host application that users are already familiar with (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel), reducing the friction typically associated with new tools. For example, the icon that launches the add-in can be included the navigation ribbon and the tool open in a pane within the host application
Add-ins can notify the user within the primary application, facilitating a number of adoption strategies. For example:
After installation, add-ins may start automatically the first time their host application is opened
Add-ins can activate based on a document state. Our slide search solution, TeamSlide, automatically notifies users if a slide in their presentation is out-of-date
Microsoft add-ins offer an effective way to add specialized functionality to the Office application suite. By embedding within familiar applications, they reduce the change management effort often associated with rolling out new tools.
In our previous post, we discussed how to measure the return (R) on a content management system (CMS). In this entry, we complete the return-on-investment (ROI) calculation and examine the investment portion (I).
As we discussed, CMS can have significant benefits to your organization helping employees work more efficiently and improving knowledge sharing. However, implementing a CMS does have its costs and understanding the drivers is helpful in the selection process:
Operations – If the CMS is being installed you will need to consider the time, hardware, and software required to set it up and run it.
Setup – During the setup phase your IT and Knowledge management teams may need to work with the vendor to understand system requirements and develop a roll-out plan. You should consider the time they put into the process as an investment.
Run – What software or hardware do you need to run the solution? Is it a cloud offering (in this case there may be a saving over your current CMS)? The software licenses and hardware costs to support the CMS should be included. Will maintenance be required? If so, the IT personnel cost should also be included. These numbers need be discounted by the cost of running your current system.
Migration – The costs for migrating to a new CMS comprise all efforts of moving existing data from the existing platform to the new system. You may need to build tools or take the time to migrate your content between old and new systems manually. Often a middle ground is chosen in terms of some steps being executed automatically by tools with some manuals steps left for content experts. The tasks could include exporting, converting, importing, reorganizing, and correcting content. This time and resources required to build any custom tools or simply even monitor the migration needs to considered as part of the investment.
During the migration phase will you have to run your old and new CMS concurrently? If so, you may not be able to switch your resources over immediately and the cost of running both systems for a few weeks or months needs be considered.
Training and communication – Once the new CMS is ready, your team will have to build communication and training collateral. In addition, you may have to hold live training sessions. The time it takes your staff to complete these tasks and the time it takes all users to learn the new system should also be included.
CMS license cost – And lastly, the cost of the actual CMS license is a critical component of the investment cost. Be sure to understand how this might change over time if you are ramping up or will be adding more users in the future. You can, of course, deduct the license cost of your current CMS.
When considering new content management systems (CMS) one of the primary decision factors is the return-on-investment (ROI). However, calculating the ROI is not typically straightforward and can require a combination of judgement and strict data. In this blog entry, we will focus our attention on the return (R) or the benefits side of the equation. In Part 2 we will explore the investment (I) or the cost side of the equation.
Measuring the benefits of a CMS requires a number of assumptions and therefore can be quite subjective. We think it make senses to try and capture the assumptions that have the largest impacts and where possible quantify the return:
Time savings – Will the CMS help your staff find content more quickly than your current solution? To calculate this benefit, you would:
Count the staff using the CMS and determine their weighted average salary
Estimate the time savings the employee saves each time they use the CMS
– The CMS may enable them to find content faster
– If the CMS allows them to find content that wouldn’t have been founded otherwise, you can count the savings from recreating content
Multiply the average salary by the amount of time the CMS will save
For example, let’s say you have 1000 employees with an average salary $100/hour using the CMS an estimated 10 times a month saving 6 minutes each time they use it. So each month they save 1 hour for a total of 12 hours a year. In addition, they save about an hour each month because the CMS exposes more content and reducing content recreation. This is an additional 12 hours a year for a total of 24. Therefore, the savings per employee ($100/hour * 24) is $2,400 and the savings across all employees is $240,000.
Now you may want to discount this because all your employees may not use all the saved time valuably. However, having your employees work less may also have benefits in terms of job satisfaction and productivity. Typically, these factors are hard to measure and you have to make a rough judgement.
Productivity, knowledge capture, and sales – A good CMS will also provide a long list of the softer benefits that may be hard to explicitly measure:
Are you capturing more knowledge? Is it easier to deal with employee turn-over?
Is your output and operations going to improve because your employees have better access to content?
Are you able to close more deals because your pitches have improved?
You could calculate the sales benefit by estimating the percent increase in winning a deal and the average size of a deal. However, these numbers tend to be hard to defend. Instead, you could ask your vendor to speak with other customers to understand subjectively what benefits they are seeing on a consistent basis. This should give you a rough sense of the value of the subjective, softer benefits.
You can then combine the value of all the benefits to estimate to the total return on the investment.