Organizations run on metrics. In the previous article we discussed measuring your Information Governance program against the ARMA International Generally Accepted Records Keeping Principles® using their NextLevel™ assessment tool. This gives you a baseline score of where you are using the industry accepted standard maturity model. While that is an important metric to have, it is generally not that important to the Powers-That-Be when it comes to spending money and scheduling projects. What you need are hard numbers that mean “real money” or are valuable to the Powers-That-Be.
It’s been my experience that the most common metrics to make a business case are related to storage costs and the time it takes to find what you need. Here are some typical questions you should ask:
- What is the total hardware cost of the organization’s data infrastructure?
- What are the maintenance costs associated with the organization’s data infrastructure?
- What is the square footage cost associated with the organization’s hardcopy storage?
- What is the expected growth of the organization’s total storage requirements?
Search and Retrieval
- What are the Service Level Agreements (SLA) related to information retrieval?
- What are the staffing costs associated with the organization’s records management?
Another valuable metric involves your organization’s response to litigation. If litigation is a regular part of the business, it is important to understand any costs associated around the Discovery process. The process of Legal Hold and Discovery is sensitive to searching and retrieval of information.
Once you have these numbers, there are a couple of standards that remain constant in the Information Governance field that makes a business case:
- It is generally accepted that within any organization only 5 – 10% of the information produced is valuable, should be maintained and protected. Remember the discussion around Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) information from the first article? That is the remaining 90 – 95% of information an organization is storing and maintaining. How much money would be saved if you could reduce storage by just 20%?
- The next standard, validated by studies year after year, is that the average employee, regardless of organization, will generally spend a third of their work day searching for information in order to do their work. While it is certainly a soft cost, how much time can be saved if you could organize and reduce the amount of information the staff searches thorough?
Without a doubt, every organization has the issue of data duplication. Most, if not all, people have their own file of reference material they depend on to accomplish certain daily functions. I often find the same reference material being kept by individual members of the same department in their own private folders! It’s this type of data duplication that leads to inconsistent work results and inflated storage requirements. This is such a common example that it is easily understood and accepted by most people regardless of organization. The old adage of “work smarter, not harder” readily comes to mind if everyone could access the same reference material from a single location. It is much easier to update a single worksheet than to depend on everyone to delete their old copy from their files.
While the stories are easily understood, it is the metrics that make the business case. When you couple these stories with the organization’s storage costs, as well as the costs associated with search and retrieval of information, you then have a powerful scenario to show real money spent in the budget right now that can be repurposed. This is the language that gets the attention of the Powers-That-Be!
These are just some of the more common metrics used to create a business case for improving an organization’s information governance program. There may be others that are more meaningful to your organization. The key is to understand what those factors are and to quantify them when making the value proposition for your project. Next month we’ll discuss developing a strategic plan.