The Business Case for Org Chart Software
Org chart software may be a no-brainer for HR but it’s often the investment decision-makers who need some convincing. Justifying ROI in hard numbers isn’t always black and white. This doesn’t mean there isn’t any value in investments with more ambiguous benefits. It only means providers must do a better job at articulating that value in a language everyone can understand.
A Company’s Greatest Assets
You may roll your eyes when you hear the old saying, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset,” but we hear it all of the time because it’s true. It’s not just that the people are an asset; they are and they matter. But if we’re honest, it’s what they bring to the table that matters most. We don’t hire based on how friendly someone is or if they made us laugh. We hire because they have a talent, a skill, a knowledge we need. And they make us laugh.
Each hire brings a different skillset and when combined with other skillsets from other employees, the magic happens. Innovation and ideas flourish, awesome products are built and fantastic service is offered. Yet, that’s not always easy or realistic, especially when knowledge is siloed and not shared. Each person knows what they know but they may not know what the other person knows or where to go to find what they don’t know.
When people and their skillsets are isolated, confined to the teams and projects that surround them, the company’s greatest assets are underutilized. Innovation and ideas are stifled, creativity suffers, collaboration is a non-starter. What is that costing you? How much time is wasted looking for people in the company who have a certain skillset, or worse, how many contractors or new hires are brought in to do things others within the company could have done if only their skills were known? These are costs that can be measured, yet are often ignored.
Key Indicators of Success
Productivity and efficiency are obscure business KPIs. They aren’t easy to quantify but you definitely feel it when they are off-kilter. Some measure them by output – how many, how frequently and/or how well a product or service comes to market. Others look at baselines and measure progress. But how do you measure how much time is spent duplicating efforts? Searching for the right person or the data required to do a job?
One survey attempted to quantify the inefficiency of email, the standard for most office communications. It found most employees spend at least six hours a day checking emails and nearly half of those were personal and not work-related.
Another article citing the same study made an interesting observation: those 30 hours per week are only referring to checking emails, not the hours spent reading, answering, and organizing emails. Going a step further, the inefficiency of email is costing companies nearly the salary of a full-time employee. There’s a hard number that should get some attention.
Once companies begin to see the cracks in the mortar, it’s a little easier to justify an investment in a tool with the potential to eradicate such inefficiencies and promote productivity. How does a business leader begin to put together a solid case? Here are four basic steps:
Step 1: Align your plan with corporate strategy. Every company is different and has varying drivers. The best plans will directly align with the mission, the purpose, and the strategy of the company. If the company’s vision is to be a leader in innovating, developing and manufacturing the most advanced products, the goal needs to prove how current processes are a stumbling block. If a service company has a mission to be the most respected service brand, it must be shown how the company can improve how it supports the culture of its team members who directly impact customer perception.
Step 2: Shift from ROI to ROO. The traditional method for justifying costs is through the measurement of concrete KPIs to determine return on investment. This is great for finance and accounting but it isn’t always realistic (see above). By getting the organization to look beyond these metrics towards other success indicators, like return on objectives, you can begin to show the value of things like met objectives, knowledge sharing and cross-team collaboration.
Let me stop here and talk about how org chart software comes into play. If it’s org chart software you are interested in, here’s how it can be sold. When it comes to aligning with corporate strategy, this software brings people together and highlights the skillsets under your corporate roof. HR shouldn’t have all the fun by keeping this information to themselves. Making it available to the employee base helps people find who they need quickly and gives everyone greater opportunities for growth through cross-team collaboration.
Most companies want their employees to work together and assume they are until it is brought to attention the fact that they don’t have the tools to do it well. There are plenty of project management and collaboration tools out there but org chart software helps people find who they need to collaborate with, who has the skillsets they need to work on a project, and how and when to contact them. We’ve already discussed the inefficiency of email, yet that’s the “tool” many organizations still use.
Org chart software gives organizations the mechanism to unlock all of the trapped knowledge of its greatest assets, to share ideas and skillsets, to help build a culture of teamwork. That, my friend, is worth something.
Now, let’s get back to our list of to-dos:
Step 3: Present the total cost of ownership. Business leaders want to know how much this thing will cost them, from setup to ongoing maintenance. Because of cloud technology and the software as a service (SaaS) model, costs are quite reasonable. There is no upfront large expenditure to purchase the software and maintenance/upgrades are handled by the provider. Finding a solution that is simple to configure and use will help reduce training costs and if can integrate with existing internal systems, even better. This will lower IT costs associated with coding and building those integrations.
Every salesperson knows you don’t sell a product, you sell its benefits. This brings us to:
Step 4: Find the awesome. You aren’t justifying the expense or even the technology itself. You are selling the value org chart software brings. Explain the short and long term benefits for the people and the company culture. This may include giving employees a way to get to know one another, find one another, search the employee base by skillset, connect with one another on a more personal level, collaborate easier, and leverage the skills and talents already in the organization.
Discuss the fact that Gallup found that one of the top three factors in retaining employees is giving them opportunities to grow. Investing in ongoing training and education is one way to promote employee growth, albeit an expensive route. Org chart software helps everyone find and see the skillsets that may not be in their own department. Giving employees the flexibility to use their talents and abilities across departments, across the company, opens up opportunities and builds relationships that likely would have never happened when this information was locked inside teams who rarely shared information.
Don’t let the fact that productivity, efficiency, and company culture are difficult to measure. Present your case that the software is a valuable resource that every employee up and down the ladder can leverage. Financial success is based on more than just profit. It takes people. Giving them the tools they need to be effective is at the heart of any IT investment. This one is worth the effort.