After seeing, hearing, and participating in hundreds of conversations on impact measurements, we strongly recommend leaders step back and answer fundamental questions before beginning a measurement and evaluation project.
There is a lot of confusion about measurements and impact measurements. Today we will address the number one question we hear,
“How will I show the impact or ROI of this work?”
There are technical solutions to evaluate ROI, but let’s not go there yet. First, you must be clear about the purpose, use, stakeholders, and resources.
Here are some questions to answer first,
What is the problem you are solving, for which knowing the ROI is the solution?
ROI is a measure used to make certain types of decisions. Sometimes leaders use the phrase “ROI” loosely. They want assurance that things are on track. You may need a different metric or a different question. It is the same when someone uses the word impact.
What decision are you going to make with this information?
A related question to the one above. Are you clear about the decision or use of the information asked? If not, you can overspend time and effort with little to show for it.
What underlying information gap do you want to close?
Sometimes people know something is missing, but the idea is not well articulated. Please take the time to identify what evidence is missing, what is not happening without this information, who needs it, when, how, and its use.
How valuable is this information?
The answer to this question determines the time and effort you justify to get this information. For example, if you are implementing a strategic transformation of business operations in alignment with the Sustainability strategy, you would address it differently than if it is a small one-off initiative.
What is your capability to do this?
The solution you choose will depend on your resource and time constraint. Do factor in your organization’s maturity with evidence-based implementation.
Finally, and very often overlooked – where are the stakeholders for who you want to measure success?
Consultants frequently ask us how they can prove the impact of their work on their clients. It’s great that they care. However, usually, the client has a central role in this too.
Similarly, if you support internal stakeholders to achieve business outcomes, you will need their alignment and active engagement in impact measurement. Do invite them to the table.