Using Project Management to Find "Hidden" ROI

I have mentioned here before that I am currently on the drafting team for a new Sedona Conference project. This effort is a not yet a formal Working Group for TSC but it is an effort that been in play for over a year now. The focus/topic of this examination is on establishing a business case for finding the hidden ROI in an organization’s information assets. Think Business Intelligence meets Records Management meets ediscovery meets IT and you will have a basic idea of where this paper begins. Because of the nature in which organization create, disseminate, and store information – often siloed, disaggregated, unstructured, and untracked - there is a large amount of “value” that is unseen and untapped. We are seeking to lay out the plan for initiating the effort to corral this information and extract the “hidden” ROI and uncover the riches in having a more dynamic aggregated information asset model. The debut of our work was presented in draft form at last year’s ARMA conference in Orlando where it was received with generally positive reviews but further clarification and redirection was needed on the part of the drafters after hearing the feedback. We are still in the process of drafting this piece and look to have it out for public comment in the near months ahead.

While working on this topic many related subjects and issues have been co-mingled in my mind. Certainly the aspect of IT and legal convergence is of great potential in any scenario that looks to define ROI for informational value. Costing studies on implementation and financial ROI will be necessary as well for any implementation. Defining some of the many ancillary benefits of strengthening such diverse business process as R&D in product development, early case assessment in legal matter management, and improved customer satisfaction will be helpful in further expanding this topic. Perhaps the most important question however is who within an organization will be charged with this task? Records Managers have a stake and so would make a likely choice. IT obviously carries the burden from an architectural perspective as well as content access and security and so may be a wise choice. If an organization already has a BI or KM team they might also make for a strong choice. Even a techno-type out of the in-house legal team may make a solid implementer. However all of these positions currently exist and in most cases are already over burdened with their day-to-day responsibilities. Executing on a cross-organizational ROI business case that looks to mesh all informational assets into a holistic system and process that is able to extract potential value for all relevant parties will require a skill set that is adept and working with diverse groups and business functions. It will require someone who has a grasp both of the underlying objectives but also on how to organize and plan for such an undertaking.

Without divulging too many of the key elements of the paper, in it we do outline the necessary elements for it to succeed. One of the most import factors is that of creating an Interdisciplinary Team made up of key stakeholders within the organization (I mentioned some of them above). However, there is a knowledge gap in this group no matter the type or size of organization (with some exceptions) – there is no person identified that has the core project management skills of the quality that this implementation demands. A project manager would be of great value and importance. Their discipline in organization, planning, measuring and executing would add a tremendous advantage in this cross-function organization-wide undertaking.

Obviously it is our hope that this paper and business case contain therein will be a catalyst for organizations to review their current information architecture and decide to undertake a deeper, more meaningful effort of establishing the process of extracting ALL value from it. I look forward to sharing this paper with the project management community to assess its potential impact from their perspective and hear how the PM role may take part.
Joshua KubickiComment