Including Non-financial Benefits in a Business Case for an ERM System (Part 1)

By Carl Weise posted 04-29-2011 13:45


Non-financial benefits can be categorized as: 1) those quantified in non-financial terms and 2) those that are non-quantifiable, or intangible.  Whether benefits can be quantified, or not, will partly depend on the organization systems and processes, so there is no hard and fast rule. 

There is a range of benefits where an indication will be given of whether the benefit can expect to be quantified in non-financial terms or is generally expected to be on-quantifiable.  Organizations should seek to realize these benefits and set targets to achieve them.  Measurable targets can also be set for the non-quantifiable benefits by using indirect measures or ‘shadow’ metrics that provide a guide that the benefit is being achieved. 

Improved Information sharing and access

These non-financial benefits need to be included as part of the business case economic assessment.  The various alternatives for undertaking the ERM implementation are evaluated across a number of non-financial criteria, such as non-financial benefits, fit with strategic objectives, and risk associated with implementation.

These non-financial criteria are usually assessed by experienced individuals, who score them against a subjective scale (for example between 1 and 10) to indicate whether the non-financial benefits are low, high or somewhere in between.

There will be no ‘lost records’, as no correctly-indexed record is ever lost. In every paper-based environment a small percentage of records are lost, and finding misfiled paper records is both expensive and slow - Quantified, for example, as number or percentage of lost records.

An ERM environment allows any authorized user to find any record, easily and quickly.  Also, an ERM environment typically allows content searching (for text records) and may include a thesaurus which allows searching with synonyms and related terms - Quantified, for example, as the average time taken to find a record.

There will be faster information retrieval, since an ERM environment allows the quick and efficient retrieval of information stored in it.  Typically, any record can be found and retrieved within seconds - Quantified, for example, as the average time taken to retrieve a record.

Information can be shared efficiently.  Records can be distributed to recipients, and unlimited numbers of users can refer to the same record simultaneously, all without the photocopying cost which paper records require - Non-quantifiable, but can be measured indirectly through the time taken for a related task.

Files stored in electronic format facilitate individual and department, moves and other re-organizations - Non-quantifiable, but can be measured indirectly by a subjective assessment undertaken by those involved.

If required, information can be retrieved at any time - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (so long as this is recognized as a requirement at time of procurement) - Quantified frequently through a service standard which defines the percentage of time the system will be available.

Remote retrieval is facilitated.  If a suitable infrastructure is available, records can be retrieved from, or added to, the ERM system from remote locations (for example, international offices, supplier premises, and workers’ homes) - Non-quantifiable, but users can be surveyed to determine whether remote retrieval is easier.

Integration with e-mail has two potential benefits.  Firstly, information retrieved from an electronic system can be forwarded to other parties by e-mail within seconds.  Secondly, e-mail messages can be stored and managed properly, something which is often difficult with fundamentally paper-based environments - Non-quantifiable, but may be measured indirectly by the amount of storage occupied by e-mail messages.

With simultaneous access, an unlimited number of authorized users can read, refer to or print any electronic record at any time - Non-quantifiable, but the time taken to undertake a related task may be measured.

Finally, users will find their jobs easier and more fulfilling as they are able to search for and obtain information faster and more easily - Non-quantifiable, but may be measured indirectly through a survey of job satisfaction or the level of staff turnover.

How have you used the non-functional benefits of improved information sharing and access to support your efforts in getting funding for an ERM initiative?

What have been your keys to success in getting an ERM implementation approved?   

#ERM #ECM #ElectronicRecordsManagement