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COO Chats: Data, cost per wear

How your data is like a new pair of shoes?

It’s often hard to quantify the value that real data has to your business. Arthur Nielsen, an innovator in data gathering said “The price of light is less than the cost of darkness”. Whilst this is true, without hard numbers it is difficult to justify investment in properly managing that data. This is one of the key challenges our clients face.

It’s very easy for us to advocate on the importance of centralising your data sources so that across your business your teams have access to a suite of information to provide context, inform current projects, and to leverage when planning for new projects. Our clients come to us with this goal – and it’s a very real and achievable one. Withstanding the value the business recognises the software will bring, often hard and fast numbers are required. It would be easier if there was a generic number I could throw at you, but unfortunately that’s not the case, so here’s an analogy that I’ve seen work in the past.

Cost per wear.

Now if you’re a stranger to this concept – I’d like to meet you. Remove the fact that you’re buying software for a minute. Consider an expensive purchase you’ve been thinking about lately, some shoes, a car, that new BBQ, another coat…our team’s list goes on…now how do you go about justifying that (either to yourself or to your partner!)? Cost per wear. The fact that your initial outlay in cost of a material thing can be justified as an “investment” and your yield will increase over time as you get more use of the product. Sound crazy? Because it is. A material thing typically can’t yield a monetary return on investment. Even though that stakeholder engagement software WILL help you work faster and get richer input from your community, this is often the space we find ourselves in – trying to quantify a return that typically yields qualitative results.

If we consider the concept of cost per wear on stakeholder management software, some variables might be:

  • The number of projects that will be using the software
  • The number of teams that will be using the software
  • The time taken in preplanning phases to discover (again!) your stakeholders
  • Time taken to report on key project and organisation metrics
  • Time taken by projects teams to maintain isolated spreadsheets and push information between each other

Some more qualitative variables to consider that are somewhat harder to quantify:

  • Data currency
  • Consistent messaging to stakeholders
  • Stakeholder sentiment over time
  • Addressing problematic stakeholders early
  • Proactive project planning
  • Understanding risks early, stakeholders or areas
  • Having the tools to push data into early planning phases prior to consultation

So, whilst I can’t give you a hard number on how valuable your data is to you, this concept rings true. The currency of your data and the greater use your data has across your organisation, the smaller that cost is per project, team or record.



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