Identifying Meaningful metrics for ECM success

By Greg Clark posted 01-29-2013 11:24


One of the hottest topics of debate around the C3 Associates offices is about what constitutes a meaningful measure of ECM success (it's these kinds of conversations that make us all very popular at cocktail parties). In general, you know your ECM program is successful when it directly supports your organization's strategic business objectives. My business partner Sheila Bryant is a strong advocate of this position, arguing that statistics like the number of documents in the repository aren't closely enough correlated with business outcomes.

I agree with her; after all, if the work of your ECM program results in an outcome that's reported as a success in your company's annual report, you know you're doing something right.

However, I'll hedge a bit on the question of whether or not straight statistical measures are relevant. I believe the types of measures you use are dependent on where you are in your journey. Early on in your ECM program, usage data generated from your ECM system can be very helpful in identifying where you're succeeding, and where you're not. 

Here are a few areas to consider when identifying ECM metrics for your organization. Note that all measures should be trended over time, ideally starting with a baseline measurement before your ECM implementation. 

Information Quality Measures

  • How often do users access incorrect or incomplete documents?

Efficiency Measures

  • How long does it take users to access accurate information?

  • How much does it cost to re-create lost information?

  • How often are users successful when searching for information?

  • How much do users rely on email as a document management system or collaboration tool?


  • Are there legitimate excuses to work around internal compliance processes because the processes are incomplete, inaccurate or inefficient?

  • How quickly and comprehensively can your organization respond to information requests from your regulator?

 Knowledge Exchange

  • How easy is it to make personal connections in your organization across time and distance?

  • How quickly do new users ramp-up on key processes, documentation and know-how?

 System Usage

It can be valuable to look at key system usage measures like the number of documents added to the system, the number of versions created, the number of active users, etc. Note that these statistics can be misleading because they don't take into account the value of the information contained in the system, nor what your users are actually doing with the information. That said, these can be valuable measures early on in an ECM program to identify usage patterns and focus your training and support efforts where users appear to be struggling.

Information Management Literacy

  • Number of active users, trended over time

  • Use of document templates

  • Number of document links sent via email vs. attachments

  • Number of requests for new ECM sites / implementations

  • Adherence to ECM guidelines and principles (eg. single-source document access vs. copies, appropriate metadata added to documents, etc.)

These are just a start and as noted earlier, really only tell part of the story. The best measure of ECM success is on the bottom line of your organization. These impacts can take time and vary by organization. However, in my experience most of the metrics listed here are a useful proxy for overall business success.


#measurement #InformationGovernance #metrics #ROI #ECMBestPractice