One of the most common concerns for information workers (and their managers) is how to define metrics and measure the success of their collaboration efforts today. Few organizations really understand about what is happening within their environments — what is working, and what is not working. Most collaboration deployments fail to adequately capture and measure data around their platform to better understand what people are using, where they are active, which processes or workloads or teams are more successful, and why they are successful.
Why is measurement such a big issue? A common theme across most organizations is the need to improve collaboration, but without adequate data — change can be difficult. Regardless of size or industry, companies want to improve adoption and engagement — and yet they have not even taken the steps to define what adoption and engagement mean. And if you don’t have these defined, how can you improve them?
The mechanics of collaboration should be transparent, which is to say that the goals of your collaboration, the monitoring methods, and the measurements you track should be regularly discussed within the organization.
The problem, of course, is that the data most tools provide are simply insufficient for measuring activity to this detail — and vendors need to wake up and solve this problem. Whether using SharePoint on-premises or the latest online tools via Office 365, companies must clearly define the purpose of their information management systems. From there, they need to understand the limitations around out-of-the-box reporting, and where additional tools may be needed to help them track and measure key insights into collaboration behaviors.
Surfacing data quickly and visually is key, and then providing administrators with the proper channels to take appropriate action. A report on number of logins to a platform in a given month is useless information. Who were they? What did they do once inside the platform? How long did they stay? Were they able to find the data or complete the workload that they had intended? How do their activities compare with those of their peers? Of other business units? And how do these statistics change over time? Are we seeing an increase in usage, or a decrease? Are people uploading more, or less content? Are they commenting more , or less?
Data visualization, and the desire for stronger business intelligence (BI) capability is a rapidly growing segment of collaboration. For example, Microsoft has made BI a major pillar of their development strategies for SharePoint, with some new features being built exclusively for SharePoint Online, part of their Office 365 platform. However, there is not yet a documented roadmap for providing these kinds of data within their BI platform — which seems like an opportunity for a huge win on the part of Microsoft.
Additionally, allowing for personalization is key. Managers must understand how data rolls up into the divisional and corporate levels, and which data they must dig deeper into to understand the nuances of their own business — but they should have some degree of personalization to design metrics and reporting based on their unique organizational and cultural needs. Much like all SharePoint reporting, these reporting solutions need to provide windows into the data for different security levels, allowing you to measure social activity by role, as well.
You cannot, ultimately, manage your collaboration efforts by spreadsheet alone.
The data you capture and track informs you, but what the data often does is to highlight the offline actions you must take, such as providing training, or adding additional functionality to improve the end user experience. Reporting and BI tools are directional — they help you to see trends and insights into your platform activity, and social collaboration activities are no different than structured collaboration activities, such as using SharePoint.
What we need are better metrics, more data, and a clear understanding of how our collaboration systems are aligned with what the needs of the business. Unfortunately, there is no “easy button” to make our collaboration systems more transparent. It’s an iterative process that should begin with out-of-the-box reporting and analytics. And there’s no better time to begin than right now.
At Beezy, we believe that monitoring and metrics should be aligned with business goals and outcomes so that organizations can better understand the value that collaboration drives. If you would like to better understand the options available out-of-the-box from SharePoint and Office 365, as well as what the partner ecosystem provides beyond this, then please join our joint webinar with CardioLog Analytics on January 19th at 8am PST as we discuss “The Nuts and Bolts of Measuring SharePoint Activity.”