Digital Transformation Today

Measuring Knowledge Management ROI – Part 1 of Microsoft Project Cortex and SharePoint Syntex

Microsoft Project Cortex and SharePoint Syntex: Pie in the Sky or ROI

Part One: Measuring Knowledge Management ROI.

This is the first in a series of four blogs exploring the potential return on investment for implementing SharePoint Syntex and other upcoming services from Project Cortex.

The SharePoint Syntex product, along with the upcoming Topic services coming out of Microsoft’s Project Cortex, will be game changers for organizations using Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. These Content Services, which Microsoft is grouping with its Workplace Analytics offering as “Knowledge and Insights,” solve several challenges that anyone involved in implementing, supporting, and assuring adoption of Microsoft 365 in an organization will understand:

  1. By enabling even small to medium organizations to use the power of Artificial Intelligence to auto-classify content, Content Services enable Knowledge Management (KM) in a way that was not sustainable for mid-size and even some larger organizations before – a pressing concern with the advent of COVID-19 and the (often ungoverned) explosion of Microsoft Teams.
  2. Having the ability to ingest forms, pull out the data, and trigger the appropriate workflows means Content Services multiply the opportunity for quick adoption wins, often with groups that might have been your late adopters otherwise.
  3. With its close ties to Retention and Sensitivity Labels, Content Services reinforce the case for migrating as much content into Microsoft 365 as possible, moving organizations toward a better security and compliance posture – which makes both management and IT happy.

In future blogs, I’ll explore each of these points in detail. But in this first installment, let’s begin with the end in mind: Return on Investment (ROI).

Calculating ROI for Knowledge Management

Without the right focus, “attempts to quantify a return on KM investments in such cases are likely to measure things that don’t matter and miss things that do,” according to Don Cohen in a classic article in Harvard Business Review. He goes on to note “measures of KM activity—say, the number of documents downloaded from a repository… don’t tell you if access to those documents contributed enough to organizational performance to offset the costs of providing them.”

According to a Tip Sheet entitled Effective Measurement of Knowledge Management Initiatives from APQC, an organization specializing in benchmarking, business process improvement, and Knowledge Management, “The goal is to tie trends in activity measures to business outcomes. Clear business outcomes provide the ROI to justify investment in targeted KM approaches as well as the infrastructure, people, and technology that any successful initiative requires.”

Here are a few thought starters as you think about your strategy for knowledge management with Content Services:

  • High employee turnover? Baseline satisfaction with your current content tools in a target group of exits and current employees, then measure over time. Did employee turnover change? Did existing employees have a better opinion of KM at your organization over time?
  • Losing business because you can’t respond quickly to RFPs? Implement good KM practices and roll out these Content Services for the proposal process, then track bids/wins/losses over time.
  • Tired of spending money buying information? Use Content Services to create custom search experiences based on auto-classification and find data you didn’t know you had. Quantify the savings.
  • Paying temps to do work during surge periods? Use the power of AI to automate capture and reduce temp spending.

Finally, it’s perfectly acceptable to include some ‘soft measures’ in your ROI thinking; success stories, project retrospectives, and general user satisfaction surveys are all critical if they are targeted and combined with ‘harder’ metrics specific to your objectives.

SharePoint Syntex is available for purchase for all Microsoft 365 commercial customers.

If you need more information on or you’re ready to get started, book a meeting
here. Stay up to date with other innovations from Project Cortex coming later this year.
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