Last Wednesday I spoke at he Intranet Benchmarking Forum’s Global IBF meeting in London.
Afterwards, I spotted Richard Dennison's post about one aspect of the event: the Financial Calculator.
Richard's post along with the single response by shaidorsai got me thinking about the cost/benefit equation of using a wiki for one's intranet.
During the meeting, while Lars Ploughmann of Headshift was giving his exelent talk, a senior figure from one of the global IBF members commented that a Confluence wiki was not that cheap. Though the licence fee was only GBP4000, the total installed cost was likly to run to 70 – 90k.
This could turn out to be true but I would argue that this expense is more-or-less a one-off.
During a typical year (for our Notes/Domino based intranet) I paid 30k for our business partner to develop an image library, 90k for a Powerpoint presentation storage and download area, and 20k for enhancements to a bespoke meeting booking system. This pattern was repeated each year as new business requirements emerged. For each requirement, a lengthy making-of-a-business-case process was needed.
Because the wiki imposes no business logic, process or work flow, once I have paid the first year cost, these types (and other currently un-thought off types) of application can emerge for free (OK, there is my salary and those of the business departments, but these would have been a factor of the old way of working as well!).
In addition, because the wiki supports self organizing, I expect business users to emerge, creating their own applications, with only a minimal amount of support from me (the central intranet management function).
If of-the-shelf commercial plug-ins, or even bespoke code is needed to support some of the more elaborate emergent apps, it should be possible to develop working prototypes for free using the base functionality of Confluence. Benefit could then be measured over a period and used to justify the additional spend as part of a phase II.
To steal a phrase from our head of corporate comms: "it's easy to get [financial] approval if the 'i' in ROI is kept small"