It’s surprising how few organizations make a habit of calculating the return on Investment (ROI) from their issue tracking software. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that it’s an easy matter to work out cost and time savings, and other business benefits. But in fact, it’s not.
There are a few reasons why ROI metrics are so frequently left to the realm of impression rather than metrics. Firstly, there are often too many moving parts. ROI calculations can be very complex if the software impacts multiple individuals and departments, the organization is growing quickly, or the company focus changes to address new markets.
Secondly, issue tracking is a two-way street. On the one hand, you have users, whose main concern is to get their tickets resolved as quickly and effectively as possible. On the other hand, you have the support teams whose role is to manage requests of varying numbers and complexity within the limits of their own departmental resources. Sometimes what looks like success to one side is a bit ‘so what’ to the other.
Finally, there’s the problem of the baseline benchmark. Companies deploying issue tracking software for the first time may not have established any concrete baseline measurements other than a general need for something more than a spreadsheet. Even if you are replacing an incumbent solution with something new, the reasons for the change may not have been quantified. Moreover, there’s very often a ‘touchy-feely’ element – like customer satisfaction, or ease of use - that’s hard to evaluate scientifically.
It’s perfectly understandable that no one wants to spend hours documenting the value of software that’s meant to be saving them from administrative tasks in the first place. But tracking how an issue tracking product is performing as a business tool just takes a little thought and preparedness, and it’s well worth the effort.
When it comes to calculating ROI, I think that not knowing where to start is a bigger problem than the time it would take to set up a few basic metrics. If you can establish benchmarks for a small number of key benefits, based on current status/status before implementation, and measure progress against these metrics over time, you will be armed with solid facts that help you work out whether it has been worth the expense and time of using an application, and how it is impacting the business as a whole.
The main benefits of a good issue tracking implementation include more efficient issue handling, better monitoring and reporting, improved support and higher customer /user satisfaction levels.
When supported by concrete ROI statistics, these benefits can provide actionable insights to the corporate management team, enabling best practices to be replicated and organizational issues to be solved.
Key Benchmark Questions
Here are some key questions to ask in order to benchmark how well your issue tracking software is performing. The most obvious relate to cost and time savings:
– Amount paid for software including licensing, installation, training and annual maintenance
– Time between installation and full productivity
– Scalability/costs to add users
– Cost of upgrades over one, two and five years?
– Average time spent per action before installing the software
– Average time spent per action after installing the software
– Average number of actions is completed per day before installation
– Average number of actions completed after installation
However, by asking these additional baseline questions at regular intervals, you can also get a better handle on underlying improvements and benefits.
– Is the software used in multiple departments or for different purposes?
– Is issue tracking software new to the organization or a replacement for an existing solution?
– How many users submit issues?
– How many issues are submitted per day/week/month?
– How many staff are responsible for managing and resolving issues?
– What is the current average time to resolution?
– How many issues remain open per day/week/month?
– How much time is spent reporting issues?
– How long does it take to get a snapshot of current and open issues?
– How easy is it for users to report issues?
– Current customer satisfaction levels
The results give you something concrete on which to base the perceived and actual value of your issue tracking software. What’s more, they may encourage your colleagues to see how they can experience similar benefits in their own departments.