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Collaboration Adoption: The Value of a Trusted Advisor

"Collaboration tools are a cost of doing business." This statement was made to me by the CFO of a 3-billion-dollar organization. When I asked about ROI (return on investment) or IRR (internal rate of return) as a justification for the tools, he was ambivalent because he trusted the executive team making the expenditure to do the required due diligence.

by Dan Stephens & Ricky Shumate, Thursday, 25 Jan 2018

This exchange was odd to me until I sat down and put everyone’s job roles into perspective at that organization.  ROI, IRR and LEI (leveraging existing investments) are all metrics that matter but they matter to the true client.  Alan Weiss, PhD states in his many books on consulting methodology states that the buyer is the person who is authorized to stroke the check, (the CFO) but the client is the person or group whose condition, as consultants, we are meant to improve.  When an organization invests in collaboration tools the business as a whole can be the client but for that to be a reality, understanding the business needs and proper adoption planning must be included.

Collaboration vendors are investing heavily in the adoption message, but you may want to view that with a modicum of skepticism.  Vendors want customers to adopt the features so that no lack of value is perceived when the time comes to renew license agreements.  There is no judgment or condemnation in that statement, they are in business to make money but working with a trusted advisor or creating an internal Standard Operating Procedure for adoption might remove the pressure coming from those vendors.

Over the past 27 years of consulting in the technology space my team and I have learned a few simple truths that can be applied across technologies but impact the users of Collaboration tools significantly.  First to understand ROI, IRR or LEI as it relates to Collaboration tools you must view the process in the following order;

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Technology

Unfortunately, most companies start by buying technology and then attempt to shoehorn the people and the processes into that technology.  There exist a multitude of reasons for this particular sin, but let’s suffice it to say that it does not necessarily create the desired outcome.

Why do businesses buy collaboration tools and for that matter what are collaboration tools?  The definition will vary but let’s settle on any application that is voice, video, messaging & presence, or collaboration application related.  For example, a phone system, video conferencing, web conferencing, peer to peer messaging, group messaging or documentation sharing are all applications that would fit nicely into our definition of Collaboration tools.  The reasons why businesses buy these tools are also varied.  However, many times the operational team responsible for recommending a toolset is not properly educated on the business drivers creating the need.  So the criteria transform into technical drivers which is what the operational team is fluent in.  This process can then lead to complaints about the new system or even worse apathy and avoidance of the new system. 

Why is apathy worse?  Complaints will often drive a conversation and course correction of the system deployed.  Apathy and avoidance will cause the company to continue to waste money on a system and features that are not creating an IRR or ROI.

Note: Collaboration is the process of inserting the proper tools into the existing processes without disrupting the organizational culture.

How should this process change?  Let’s go back to our People, Process then Technology conversation.  People create a business driver or demand.  Executive management would like to drive “Productivity Improvements” thereby “reducing mean time to decision” TM or “reducing absenteeism”.  Maybe they would like to increase “Revenue Growth” by “brining offerings or services to market faster”.  These are examples of business drivers that if understood can then be tied into the workflow or process that people are already executing on.

The first step should be to Identify and document those key business drivers and goals.  Next would be to iNspect and observe people to understand how they are already collaborating to execute a workflow or process.  Then Correlate the collected data with the business goals and drivers to Introduce an Architecture and make product recommendations.  With this information one can Tender a collaboration valuation.  The final process would be to Enact a customer success program.  My team calls this methodology Presidio INCITETM.

The customer success program, which we call Presidio EXCITETM, creates a series of actionable plans to drive feature adoption based on the business drivers identified, internal marketing and communications plans, as well as training and end-user feed back plans.  With the execution of Presidio EXCITETM, key performance indicator metrics can be used to demonstrate ROI and LEI.  For instance, an organization that has an Existing Investment of $1,000,000 in Collaboration tools but has recognized that only 50% of the people are using the tools currently is only showing $500,000 in Current Value(CV) TM. That is a loss of $500,000 in value.

Exisiting Investment Spend (EIS) x Existing Adoption Metric (EAM) = Current value of spend (CVV)

(EIS) $1,000,000 x (EAM) 50% = (CV) $500,000™

If we take that same Existing Investment and apply the Presidio EXCITETM program to define an Expected Adoption Increase Metric (EAIM) TM of 20% then we can recapture a Hard Value Recovered (HVR) TM of $200,000.

Exisiting Investment Spend (EIS) x Expected Adoption Increase Metric (EAIM) = Hard value recovered (HVR)

(EIS) $1,000,000 x (EAIM) 20% = (HVR) $200,000™

This method just describes the return on LEI (leveraging the existing investment), if you then add a productivity multiplier of let’s say 1.8 would show a ROI of $360,000.  The productivity multiplier is unique to each organization and will vary based on how greatly the existing processes can be improved with the insertion of the proper Collaboration Technology.

My team at Presidio has the experience, the methodology and the expertise to be your trusted advisory. We can execute Presidio INCITE TM or Presidio EXCITE TM to help you reassess or plan your current roadmap regardless of the collaboration tools you currently own.  If you find that your organization is at a cross road, needing to make a change or needing to determine to stay the course, Presidio is here to help.

Presidio is a leading North American IT solutions provider focused on Digital Infrastructure, Business Analytics, Cloud, Security & Emerging solutions. We deliver this technology expertise through a full life cycle model of professional, managed, and support services including strategy, consulting, implementation and design. By taking the time to deeply understand how our clients define success, we help them harness technology advances, simplify IT complexity and optimize their environments today while enabling future applications, user experiences, and revenue models.
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