Measuring Your Program’s Business Impact

In CECP’s 15th Annual Board of Boards forum, attending “CEOs cited employee diversity and inclusion, preparing for the future of work, and mitigating short-termism as the top three business challenges they are currently facing.”[1] The study by the CECP is one amongst many that prove leaders and employees today are critical drivers of strategy execution and business success.

Playing a vital role in people change initiatives, workforce programs are progressively forced to make an explicit connection to the business outcomes they achieve. However, while research shows executives need impact data of these strategic people investments to steer the organization in the right direction, few programs are designed to demonstrate the results they generate.


Designing for measurability may sound obvious but is often tricky and obstructed by multiple challenges including, setting vague objectives, confusing program activities with program outcomes, or not having a measurement plan in place.



Designing with the End in Mind

Instead of leaving executives guessing the impact of programs, there are effective ways to uncover it. Once the solution to the business challenge has been selected, success needs to be defined and measurable objectives set. First, the workforce program needs to be intentionally designed to measure specific metrics—aligned with the business strategy and goals—from the start. The program must focus on its unique part in implementing the business strategy by defining and communicating its reasons upfront. With a clear understanding of the program’s role, the specific challenge needs to be thoughtfully analyzed, and the solution decided as the best alternative to achieve the desired impact.

Designing for measurability may sound obvious but is often tricky and obstructed by multiple challenges including, setting vague objectives, confusing program activities with program outcomes, or not having a measurement plan in place.

Stop Guessing

Once the foundation has been set, data collection is imperative. The type of data you collect depends on what is most appropriate for the program’s specific purpose. The data will be qualitative and quantitative and collected at different levels of the intended change, including input, reaction, learning, action, and impact.

Understanding the Results

After data has been collected, the information needs to be analyzed and put to use. First, reaction and learning data provide an early opportunity to improve design and implementation. Then, the action and usage data offer deep insights into what works in the organization. Finally, you need to isolate the effects created by your program specifically. Understanding the direct impact is often overlooked as it is not considered straightforward. However, pinpointing what the program directly generated is key to understanding its performance. The good news is that there are several proven ways to uncover this information.

After isolating the program’s direct effect, you can turn the resulting data into monetary values to get the program’s monetary benefit. You can separately calculate the program’s costs. In addition to the financial impact, you will undoubtedly find intangible benefits. The non-financial benefits may even be more significant than financial returns in some cases.

Furthering Your Impact

Now that you know the impact of your program, you should use it to your benefit. Communicating the findings is critical for all stakeholders to understand the program’s value and know what to focus on and avoid in the future.

Today, much of strategy and business success relies on people initiatives providing business impact. And for HR to gain a seat at the table, speaking the business’s language is vital; proving your value in their words can get you there. Regardless of how you measure outcomes or the extent to which you measure, it is critical to shift the focus to designing programs that can measure business impact.


About the ROI Methodology

The ROI Methodology generates qualitative and quantitative data. It provides techniques to isolate the program’s effects from other influences–resulting in credible metrics and ROI reports accepted by financial executives and stakeholders. The methodology enables you to collect appropriate data to report the performance of various initiatives and program types. The process is grounded in conservative standards and a cost-effective approach to evaluation. With over 6,000 organizations applying this process, the ROI Methodology is the most used and implemented evaluation system in the world.

Aartha is the Asia-Pacific Regional Partner of the ROI Institute.

2020 Board of Boards Exec Summary (PDF)

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