How can an archive contribute to a corporation’s bottom line? And how do you measure this contribution? We know that we can measure a corporation’s success through changes in revenue, inventory, stock price and a variety of other indices. We can look at their asset and brand values, and measure how these have increased year on year. But measuring the success of a corporate archive is different. It’s more challenging, but it may reveal that a huge gold mine is available.
Measuring the profitability of a corporate archive is difficult but not impossible. Rather than viewing the archive as a sideline interest, think of it as an untapped resource. Corporate archives are not where documents go to die. Corporate archives are the starting point—a service mechanism for ingesting and producing high-performing authentic content. A successful archive is one that facilitates the organization’s ability to capture, use and promote reuse of archival content. These materials can be used to:
- Authenticate and ensure consistency of brand voice and messaging
- Accelerate innovation
- Reduce product development cycle time
- Drive change/change management
- Increase productivity/value of work
- Reduced costs for duplicate efforts due to lost materials
- Preserve the culture/experience
- Strengthen employee alignment and engagement
- Provide content for milestone anniversaries and other heritage content needs
Many of these applications are readily measurable: A corporation can measure reductions in product development cycle time or calculate the savings associated with reducing duplicate efforts. Other uses are not as easily measured, but the value they add is real and significant. For example, authenticity is only acquired through legitimate means; it affords corporations an exclusive resource to draw on to help drive growth through culture, messaging and engagement. In a highly competitive global market, Levi Strauss has focused on its authenticity and brand heritage to differentiate itself.
More than just ensuring compliance, safety, and security of physical and digital content, an archive program must measure its success in terms of the satisfaction of its creators, producers, and consumers. This means that archival systems and processes must efficiently and effectively meet the needs of the stakeholders.
If it is not quickly and easily accessible, then it’s not efficient. Scanning through an archive should be as swift and effortless as browsing for information using Google. Meeting this expectation requires some work upfront—which includes cataloging and digitizing the content. This investment will ultimately reduce the long-term costs associated with searching through an unprocessed archive. For example, one of our clients hadn’t digitized its newsletters, but its staff members found themselves needing the content for future marketing and internal communication uses. The amount of research time spent manually searching through newsletters for ad hoc requests was over three times more than the cost of initially cataloging and digitizing the newsletters for storage in an archive.
Where do you start? What can you do today to make your archive more effective? Though it may seem counterintuitive, focus on your corporation’s future needs and work back. Building an archive takes time, and you don’t want to find yourself behind the times before you’ve even started. The work doesn’t end there. Archives programs should be subject to annual reviews to ensure that they are aligned with critical business objectives, which change and evolve. Get in touch and we can help you get started today.