Enterprise CMS is an expensive investment that usually comes with a need to demonstrate ROI in order to justify purchase decision. In times of economic downturns and tight IT budgets, this task is even more crucial.

While there's no one nice, scientific formula to calculate ECM ROI (despite much talk about it in the industry), here are some ideas you might want to consider if you need to showcase the return on investment -- before or after the implementation. And, most importantly, how to protect your ROI projections from possible negative influences.

Calculating ECM ROI from the Benefits Perspective

Inspired by arecent roundtable hosted by Xerox Docushare on why ECM can be a wise ITinvestment, we thought we'd sum up the ideas voiced at that event andlook beyond.

The roundtable participants have identified that thefollowing benefits could be the base of your ROI presentation orcalculation:

  • Increased workforce productivity: effective use ofEnterprise CMS allows organizations to let their workforce do their jobsquicker and be more satisfied with the results. That, in turn, resultsin improved customer service.
  • Better use of office equipment:transforming multifunction printers (MFPs) into a cornerstone ofbusiness processes allows for automation of routine office activities.Moving from paper to electronic records via scanning, OCR, and amultitude of other records and documents management capabilities is away to manage documents centrally in one system and route them directlyto an ECM workflow.
  • Supporting the mobile worker: ECM is rapidlymoving towards mobility and managing content from anywhere, from anydevice. That allows your workforce to do their jobs on the move andaccess information from anywhere.
  • Compliance: in regulatedindustries, compliance is not up to negotiations. Most ECM systems provide GRC tools for audits, workflows, ensuring proper securitypermissions, digital signatures, etc.

What Else to Consider forECM ROI

In addition to the above, you may also want to considerthat an Enterprise CMS can help your organization in the followingbusiness areas:

  • Business efficiency and cost reduction: eventhough the initial investment of buying and implementing an EnterpriseCMS may look formidable, leveraging an ECM system can help cut the costsbased merely decreasing the time needed to get work done. Going hand inhand with increased workforce productivity, cost reduction can occuralso in virtual and distributed working environments across multipletime zones will less paper handling and more collaborative work in acentralized, easily-accessible system for sharing business-criticalinformation.
  • Business Intelligence (BI): something you may want toconsider if looking for better ways of decision making and improvingquality of goods.
  • eDiscovery and risk reduction: risks and costsassociated with litigation can mount up quicker than you can say ECM.Collection and preservation of data, early case assessment and legalhold, archiving, cloud compliance -- all good things to keep in mind.
  • Contentmanagement: yes, as trivial as it sounds, content management. Soundseasy, but are you doing it properly? Some of the benefits ofimplementing an ECM may include content findability and re-use, contentoptimization, analytics, management of rich content and other content types,content lifecycle management, reduction of the number of siloed systems.
  • Extensibility:many ECM solutions support application-specific business processes,such as human resources and accounts payable.
  • Collaboration: someECM systems offer enterprise collaboration tools in forms of blogs,wikis, microblogging, forums and other social media and socialnetworking capabilities.
  • Storage: as one of the most quantifiableitems, content storage can play a great role in your ROI calculations,as you probably would have a good idea of how much content you have andhow much it costs to store it outside of the CMS in a myriad of filestorage systems.

Change Management and Minimization of NegativeOutcomes

As lovely as all these ECM benefits and capabilities maysound, Enterprise CMS projects still fail and fail quite often. Imaginedoing all this hard work on proving the ROI of the system you're lookingto buy only to see all that money spent going down the drain a fewmonths later.

It's one issue whether you can provide ROIprojections that will actually be correct as the time goes by. Anotherissue is to present those projections with a clear understanding,accountability and a game plan for possible negative influences.

Learning Opportunities

Itis important to choose a CMS that fits your requirements best. It isalso important to find the right implementation partner. But what veryoften is being ignored are the notions of organizational adoption of anew system and change management -- major triggers of possible negativeoutcomes of your ECM project.

We are all humans. For some of usit is harder to accept change than for others. As a result, it is notuncommon to see organizational resistance to change (read: new Enterprise CMS) -- be it frombusiness or IT.

What to do? The following are some tips to help you logically grow your ECM investment and minimize the negative, as youstartsmall to be successful:

  1. Ease down the learning curve
  2. Carry outincremental, separate, departmental implementations
  3. Engage internalor external evangelists, who see ECM benefits and can help grow adoptionin the company
  4. Deal with this shift in the organizational culture viaeducational seminars and user groups
  5. Communicate with the entireorganization how they can/are using similar tools and share commonexperiences
  6. Break down departmental silos to move the entire companyforward
  7. Make sure you have top-down leadership and executive buy-in.

An Enterprise CMS implementation cannot happenmagically in one day (read: one year). Be patient with the process andbe prepared to deal with unplanned and unpleasant contingencies.

Withthat in mind, it would also make sense to look beyond the ROI and thinkabout the VOI -- Value of Investment.