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Return on investment (ROI) proving hard to pin down for document management and workflow systems

Press Release from from The National Computing Centre, Manchester UK.

Issued 25th August 2009

Despite growing investment in document management, electronic content management (ECM) and workflow software, the majority of organisations still find it difficult to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for these systems.
This is according to the latest survey from NCC research into the use of document management, ECM & workflow technologies commissioned by the Evaluation Centre ( an interactive online service guiding IT buyers in the selection and use of business software, services and technology.
Only 2% of the companies find ROI justification 'very easy' and 2% think it is 'easy'. On the other hand, the majority of respondents find it either 'very difficult' (27%) or difficult (35%).
In addition, only a quarter of the companies (25%) feel their current systems are delivering all the expected business benefits, while a further 9% think they have been partially successful. This compares to 24% who have not seen the expected benefits and 11% who say it is too early to judge the results. Another 28% did not know how successful their systems are.
This can be explained by the fact that only 16% of organisations regularly measure their systems to determine if the expected benefits are being delivered, while 27% are planning to. A further 8% have only measured the effectiveness of their systems once after the initial implementation. This leaves the majority with no hard information by which to judge the effectiveness of their systems.
Steve Fox, Evaluation Centre Managing Director, comments: "Calculating the ROI and measuring the deliverable benefits are obviously proving difficult for many organisations; suppliers are well-versed in these techniques and should play a proactive role in helping customers to determine the payback on these systems."
Introducing greater efficiency/improving productivity is the main reason given for adopting document management and workflow solutions (rated 3.6 on a scale where 1 equals 'not important' and 5 equals 'very important'). Improving customer service levels (3.6) and streamlining administration and core business functions (3.6) are seen as equally important.
We asked our sample to assess their biggest challenges to implementing workflow and document management systems successfully, using a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is 'not a challenge' and 5 is 'a major challenge'.
The aggregated results show that having sufficient budget is the greatest problem (3.9). This is followed by gaining management buy-in to changed business processes (3.5) and developing a corporate classification scheme for information and information management policies.
Organisations still have difficulty in retrieving and managing unstructured data, according to 73% of the respondents. Only 20% say this is relatively trouble free. In addition only 18% of companies say their information is held corporately and is available to all who need it. This contrasts with over half (52%) who concede that vital corporate information is scattered around many different departmental systems and can be hard to find.
With email now the primary means of business communication, then being able to archive and access this information is of paramount importance. Companies appear to be getting to grips with this issue, with 31% saying they can access emails 'very easily', 24% 'easily' and 14% 'moderately easily'. However, a significant minority (30%) are still experiencing difficulty in this area.
Survey statistics
We spoke to a broad cross-section of over 100 organisations for this year's survey. The public sector accounts for 25% of the sample, followed by the manufacturing sector (15%), IT sector (11%) and business services (10%).
The companies vary in size from those with an annual turnover of between £5 and £10 million (16%), to the very largest: 8% of the sample report a turnover of between £1 billion and £5 billion, while 4% exceed the £5 billion mark.
In the middle of the scale, 10% have a turnover of between £10 million and £50 million, another 16% fall into the £50 million to £100 million bracket, 34% between £100 million and £500 million, and 12% have a turnover in the range £500 million to £1 billion.
The survey is available from
About The National Computing Centre (NCC)
The National Computing Centre (NCC) helps IT decision makers deliver effective solutions to business problems by bringing together users, experts and vendors to share experiences and develop best practices. We are a non-profit distributing organisation.
Press enquiries:
For more information please contact Steve Fox on +44 (0)870 908 8767 or email or Cliff Mills on +44 (0)870 908 8767 or email
Press Contact
Michael Dean
National Computing Centre
Oxford House, Oxford Road
Manchester M1 7ED
Tel: +44 (0)161 242 2121
Mob: 07703 501 129



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