Russell Stalters, BP's head of information and record architecture, is planning to accelerate his company's SharePoint deployments because of the substantial savings the product is introducing. "SharePoint projects are coming in at approximately 50 percent of the overall cost of traditional enterprise content management (ECM) systems," he says, adding that SharePoint's benefits go beyond the cost savings associated with reducing software licenses.
The second element of your business case deals with soft savings--the less tangible benefits that result from deploying software and systems. In many cases, the soft savings that stem from SharePoint are efficiency improvements, such as the amount of time a person or group will save as a result of using SharePoint to automate manual business processes or to retrieve stored documents.
You can substantiate your claims of efficiency improvement by performing time and motion studies, which track the amount of time it takes someone to perform an activity before and after SharePoint is implemented. These typically require a fairly in-depth analysis of the workers' activities, and it is important not to overstate the workers' newly available time. For example, if a SharePoint process is introduced that allows a worker to complete a one hour job in five minutes, you should not recognize all 55 minutes as savings. It's safer to estimate a smaller portion of the time savings.
Another SharePoint-related efficiency improvement is the reduction of the time it takes to produce an important deliverable in your organization. For example, by employing SharePoint for case management, you may be able to demonstrate how SharePoint can reduce the closure of a case from 10 days to five. If the speed of case closure is an important factor in your organization, you should include it in the soft savings portion of your business case.
The third section of a SharePoint business case describes the risks a company will mitigate by using the product. Specifically, SharePoint serves as a redundant repository for storing electronic renditions of documents, so companies often use it as part of their disaster recovery strategies. If your company is concerned about disaster recovery and business continuity, you might be able to amortize a portion of the system's costs over the probability period--the time during which a catastrophe may be likely.
Additionally, because SharePoint is widely used around the world, there's a readily available pool of resources who can support it. In this regard, SharePoint reduces some IT staffing risk.