Money Talks...Or Does It?

October 27th, 2017

At a recent ARMA Edmonton presentation, Acropont partner Tara Dragon observed through an informal poll that all the attendees had IM programs at their organizations, less had well-supported IM programs and even fewer had well-funded IM programs. Over the years, we have seen many of our new clients struggle to define the value of their Records and Information Management program (we’ll call it “IM program” for short) in a way that captures the attention of senior leaders and decision makers.

What is the benefit of defining the value? In one word, money. Most organizations have more goals/work/projects/initiatives in their IM program than resources (people, software, technology, consulting, etc.) available. Properly identifying the value for your organization and defining a business case for the right audience will help secure long-term endorsement and funding for the program.

Our method for defining a business case typically involves starting with some of the more general items: what are employees saying about managing information? What are they struggling with? What’s making news headlines in the area? Privacy? Data Breaches? Big discovery costs? What does the relevant industry research say? (There’s lots of good sources her: AIIM, ARMA, vendors, etc.) These types of things are valuable to know, but they only begin to tell the story for a specific organization, which is where the work comes in.

First, we work with our clients to understand all the risks and pressures that the organization is facing, which means learning about the organization and what it does. Some categories of risks and pressures include: market/reputational, operational, strategic, people/culture, financial, legal/regulatory, and technology.1 Some of this information can come from documented organizational goals, business plans, directives, legislation, the corporate risk register, etc. Other sources of this information could come from interviews and focus groups.

Second, we ask the question – “Can IM help?” If we think that it can help, we also define how. The second step should narrow down the number of items that will be used in the business case.

Third, we make sure that the audience is clearly understood. Who is responsible for making funding decisions? Is there an official governing body in place such as a steering committee? Or is it one leader? Who is that person(s)? How do they like to receive information? What factors do they consider when making decisions? Are they looking for qualitative data or quantitative (or both)? Do they have any personal experience that is relevant to one of the business case items?

Lastly, we define each opportunity with a story that is factual and credible and include a quantitative analysis. The quantitative analysis should include an assessment of the costs today vs. the costs to change plus the expected future costs. This can also be calculated as a Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Expenditure (ROE).

The presentation of the business case is key and should be tailored to the audience. While all the information should be included in the case’s longest form, the “elevator pitch” or verbal sharing of it should emphasize the pieces that are most relevant and relatable to the audience in a way that appeals to them.

Are you interested in learning more? Reach out today to discuss opportunities for us to help you revamp (or create!) your business case so that your IM program gets the attention that it deserves! Contact us at [email protected]