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GIS ROI: How to Measure and Assign Value to Your GIS. May 8, 2013. Jim Sparks Indiana Geographic Information Officer. Agenda. Why measure ROI? Review GIS ROI studies ROI: The Process Discussion and Questions. Why Measure ROI?. To garner support for your GIS program

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gis roi how to measure and assign value to your gis

GIS ROI:How to Measure and Assign Value to Your GIS

May 8, 2013

Jim Sparks

Indiana Geographic Information Officer

  • Why measure ROI?
  • Review GIS ROI studies
  • ROI: The Process
  • Discussion and Questions
why measure roi
Why Measure ROI?
  • To garner support for your GIS program
  • To document or estimate impact of changes
  • To compare effectiveness with other programs
  • ???
roi studies enterprise
ROI Studies: Enterprise

Authors: Richard Zerbe and Associates

Location: King County Washington

When: 2012

Target: Net benefits from 1992 to 2010

Results: The use of GIS produced approximately $775 million in net benefits over the eighteen year period

Google “King County GIS ROI”

roi studies enterprise1
ROI Studies: Enterprise

Authors: Geospatial Information Technology Association (GITA)

Location: State of Iowa

When: 2007-2008

Target: 99 counties, 11 state agencies, three utilities plus Iowa One Call, and consulting firms

Results: 20 year Net Present Value of $271 million

Stewart, 2008

roi studies enterprise2
ROI Studies: Enterprise

Author: Jill Saligoe-Simmel, PH. D.

Location: State of Indiana/IndianaMap

When: 2007-2008

Target: 314 respondents of 1521 registered users of IndianaMap


  • 35:1 ROI
  • $1.7 billion worth of projects and operations supported by the IndianaMap

roi studies project
ROI Studies: Project

Bolder County, CO

  • Road Maintenance Dept.
  • Sign Inventory
  • Over 7,000 signs to manage
  • Results: $20,000 inventory cost savings

roi studies project1
ROI Studies: Project
  • Los Angeles County, CA
  • Automated Cadastral Map Books
  • Results:
    • Eliminated 200 Overtime Hours
    • Eliminated 20,800 Regular Hours
    • Annual Savings of $90,000

roi studies project2
ROI Studies: Project

Martin County, FL

  • Geo-Auditing for Commercial Property Taxes
  • Results: Increased County Tax Base by $3.5 Million


Create ROI Team

ROI Planning & Prep

Conduct Interviews

Assess and Organize Information

Calculate Benefits

Calculate Costs

Prepare ROI Report

create roi team
Create ROI Team
  • 4 to 8 people
  • Skills needed:
    • Knowledge of the Enterprise
    • GIS Experience
    • Accounting
    • Report writing
roi planning and prep team
ROI Planning and Prep (Team)
  • Gather and review GIS Returns On Investment
  • Think about:
    • Methodology (with versus without)
    • Forward looking (estimating) or backward looking (quantifying)
    • Who to talk to that can give insight into how an operation has been improved by using GIS
    • Study time frame (1, 5, 10, or 20 years)
    • Audience
key points for budget holders
Key Points for Budget Holders
  • How can business impact be quantified?
  • What will be the initial and ongoing expenses?
  • What are the resources required ?
  • When will the business benefits be delivered?
  • What’s the financial case?

conduct interviews
Conduct Interviews
  • Purpose: identify business processes that have been or could be improved using GIS
  • Take notes and record interviews
  • Drill down to details. Not “our snow plow routes are better” but “We trimmed 48 miles from our routes for each event.”
assess information
Assess Information
  • Organize and document
  • Create lists of business process improvements
  • Categorize into quantifiable and qualitative benefits lists
  • Prioritize lists, and move everything beyond the 10 top to a “look at later” list
calculate costs
Calculate Costs
  • Look at all costs associated with day-to-day operations (not project specific)
    • Personnel
    • Hardware
    • Software, including maintenance
    • IT charges
  • Populate year chart for study time period
  • Determine an inflation rate and apply through study period
generic benefits
Generic Benefits
  • Save Time
  • Increase Efficiency
  • Increase Accuracy
  • Increase Productivity
  • Increase Communication and Collaboration
  • Support Decision-making
  • Aid Budgeting
  • Automate/Improve Workflow
  • Build an Information Base
  • Manage Resources
  • Reduce Costs/Save Money

The Business Benefits of GIS: An ROI Approach, ESRI

gis benefits related to efficiency
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency
  • Creating Data
  • Revising Data
  • Locating Data
  • Distributing Data
  • Using Data

Gillespie (1994) states that efficiency benefits arise when GIS is used to reduce costs of a task that, in the absence of GIS, would be handled by some other method.

gis benefits related to efficiency1
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency
  • Creating spatial data and spatial products:

The Riverside, California, Planning Board used to take up to four hours to manually produce a single map for a board meeting. They now produce an equivalent map in about half an hour using their GIS.

Typical efficiency ratios of 2:1 to 5:1

gis benefits related to efficiency2
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency

Revising spatial data:

At the City of Indianapolis, a full time draftsperson and two part time drafters were unable to keep up with base map updates that involved subdivisions. After GIS implementation, these same activities were accomplished with a half-time staff position and the base maps were kept current within a few days.

Typical efficiency ratios of 3:1 to 10:1

gis benefits related to efficiency3
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency

Locating spatial data:

Lee County, Florida frequently requires an assortment of information about land use, flood zone, watershed, zoning restrictions and variances, parcel frontage, parcel acreage, and owner verification for land development issues. GIS has reduced time requirements from hours to less than five minutes per occurrence.

Typical efficiency ratios of 5:1 to 20:1

gis benefits related to efficiency4
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency

Distributing spatial data:

Spatial data distribution on a network is instantaneous and replaces such tasks as making copies, mailing copies, replacing copies in books and files.

Typical efficiency ratios of 10:1 to 100:1

gis benefits related to efficiency5
GIS Benefits Related to Efficiency

Using spatial data:

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati saved 10 to 16 workweeks in a single instance by using GIS rather than manual methods to estimate the number of customers in a particular drainage area as part of a permit renewal process.

Typical efficiency ratios of 2:1 to 8:1

Graphic from

gis benefits
GIS Benefits
  • Quantitative (Predictable)
    • Money/time saved
      • Improved efficiency related to spatial data activities
      • Elimination of redundant data collection and data creation efforts
  • Quantitative (Not predictable)
  • Qualitative
    • Does access to better information generally lead to better decisions?
    • What is the value of a better decision?
    • What is the value of better customer service?
unpredictable benefits of gis
The City of Indianapolis used GIS to discover non-paying sewer customers. These additional accounts were worth about $1.3 million for the two-year period of 1992 and 1993, and have continued to see about $1 million per year in cash revenues from this one application of GIS.

According to Wyandotte County, Kansas, Surveyor Murray Rhodes, the county collected $500,000 in delinquent taxes in a single year that otherwise would not have been collected under the county’s (pre-GIS) manual system.

Unpredictable Benefits of GIS
unpredictable benefits of gis1
Scottsdale, AZ. was able to use their GIS to successfully protest findings of the U.S. Census Bureau that declared Scottsdale’s population to be some 8,000 to 10,000 less than the city’s projections. The city believes the appeal will result in $9 million of additional federal, state, and county funds from 1996 through 2000.Unpredictable Benefits of GIS
  • The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati reported that for the first time ever --sewer system problem areas were being analyzed by matching complaint locations with storm event, frequency, and proximity to other complaints.
qualitative benefits of gis
Qualitative Benefits of GIS
  • Faster and better public service
  • New services and products
  • Increased design and planning capacity
  • Increased analytic capacity
  • Increased interagency communication
  • Improved decision making
  • Increased transparency
calculate benefits
Calculate Benefits
  • Work with the priority list
  • Look for ongoing benefits of really significant one time winners
  • Consider factors that impact the yearly value of the benefit (inflation(+), ramp-up(-))
calculate benefits from priority list
Calculate Benefits from Priority List

“We trimmed 48 miles from our snow plow routes per event.”

  • Cost of gas
  • Other costs of equipment operation and maintenance
  • Personnel time
  • Average events per year
prepare roi report
Prepare ROI Report
  • Make it interesting: add graphics, charts, maps. Newspaper format?
  • Use conservative numbers (use the lowest number if given a range)
  • Be transparent about assumptions and methodology
  • Add a section for qualitative benefits – these are compelling (and not everyone is a numbers person)
prepare roi report1
Prepare ROI Report
  • Prepare for several review iterations
  • Include a non-technical reviewer
  • Include an executive summary that highlights the methodlogy and results
Jim Sparks

Indiana Geographic Information Officer

(317) 234-5889