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Google any business software and you’ll find pages of vendors talking about what their products can do. There’ll be a list of features a mile long.But look for the quantifiable business benefits of the software and it’s harder to find something meaningful.

What this means is that savvy IT Managers who understand the technology and capabilities of the software products they are buying aren’t being helped by vendors when executive decision makers want business cases, justification and assurance that their investment is going to deliver value.

So what is ‘value’?

Most commonly, business executives look for time savings, cost savings and increased profitability.

They also look at how value will extend from the immediate team or department where the new software will be used across the wider organisation into other operational areas to impact the bottom line.

On this basis, the most obvious measure of value is the ROI (Return on Investment) on the software, but it’s not always easy or straightforward to arrive at an answer.

Because all organisations are different, no software vendor can provide a fixed quantifiable ROI figure or other value that their software will deliver to your organisation. What they can do is suggest ways to measure the value, so that you yourself can quantify it, for example:

  • Increased employee productivity = cost saving
  • Automation of processes, reducing administration overhead = time saving
  • Improved cash management = increased profitability

Here’s an example. Shortly after Zetafax was launched, Equisys ran an experiment to measure how much time employees in a number of companies spent walking around their offices in the process of sending and receiving faxes ‘conventionally’, using centrally located fax machines.

The startling results showed that many hours could be saved by using network fax software from their own desks instead of a fax machine, thus increasing productivity. Multiplying hours by average wage gave a very clear cost saving number for anyone looking for a ROI figure to justify the purchase of Zetafax. The result? Value.

Software vendors invariably talk about benefits from a generic perspective. Attractive though these may be, these benefits are often times ambiguous and hard to quantify for your own particular business.

So look for software vendors that clearly state the benefits of their product, and then map the benefits to your business processes by measuring key metrics.

For example, try mapping the benefits offered by Zetadocs for NAV on to your accounting function:

Benefit Benefit measure
Save time printing, collating, packaging and sending documents by delivering by email and/or fax. How many man hours are spent generating, printing and sending statements and invoices?
Improve customer service with electronic document filing for fast, efficient retrieval. How much time do your customer service or accounting staff spend retrieving records in response to invoice or statement queries? How quickly are the calls resolved?
Drastically reduce the costs of paper, consumables and postage by delivering documents electronically. How much money do you spend on paper for invoices, envelopes, printing and postage?
Faster invoice payment and better credit control through quicker and easier delivery of core documents. How quickly can you invoice your customers? How soon do they pay? Can you send reminders easily and cheaply? How will faster payments improve your cash flow?
Reduce carbon footprint and meet sustainability targets by removing your organization's dependence on paper. What's the value to your brand image of a positive environmental impact statement?

The results may not give you an instant, bullet proof measure of value, but you’ll be several steps closer to a business case.

 


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