So, do you think you are worth your money?

Socitm’s Better Connected boss, Martin Greenwood, recently admitted that there’s no news in good news so he simply spins the very small bad end of a fact so Socitm make the headlines. And he is not alone. Recent FOI’s (Freedom of Information) requests have been probing the costs of  local government web sites and wishing to pitch that against how many users there are of those services. I suppose to arrive at some sort of cost per visit or page impression. All very galling for the hard working web managers.

That aside for a moment… there is a huge amount of chatter in the system about ‘channel shifting’ where the intent of managers is to drive users to a cheaper channel to deliver the service, and there is none cheaper than the web with it’s pence per use as opposed to the many pounds per use of phone and face to face.
Nobody is suggesting, at least not yet, you can hold an old persons hand via the web. I suppose that will come at about the same time as somebody wins the challenge of delivering a pint of beer across the web. Lets face it there will always be the face to face and the phone call requirement. And so it should be.
Where the web can help is the provision of information and support. A colleague at the Lincolnshire County Council produced a good visual for this in her attempt to prove another fact. If I may paraphrase what she said… she suggested that our major services were like christmas baubles in a jar where the supporting and separating media was fine grains of sand. For me that sand is the web. Granular, connected and supportive with the ability to shift in any direction at the first sign of movement in any of the substantive services.
Back to your worth. It was suggested in an article on Lincolnshire County Council’s ‘waistline’ blog (July 2009) the way to measure the worth of the web to any organisation was to (mentally) turn it off and to measure the impact on the organisation. Just what would you have to put in to replace what the web provided. The answer was not surprising. Millions of pounds of investment and service would need to be installed to replace even a small part of what the web does for a council.
You can see the article here…

So the next time you are asked to justify your existence or the council’s expenditure in the web, use this as a template for your own calculations. You and your service are cost effective to a level that may surprise even you. Doing this will also make you feel better when you see incorrect and biased things written about what you do. Now that can’t be bad.
btw… the picture is of Lincolnshire County Council’s web manager, Jean Trahearn. The switch really was that big. It was in a shop in Regent St. Photoshop put the wording on.
Imagine if there was such a switch. It doesn’t bear thinking about the consequences of the switch being flipped does it?
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