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Show Me the Money: How to Determine ROI in People, Projects, and Programs

Show Me the Money: How to Determine ROI in People, Projects, and Programs

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In recent years, we have witnessed change in organizational accountability, especially toward investment in people, programs, projects, and processes. Project sponsors and those who have responsibility for project success have always been concerned about the value of their initiatives. Today this concern translates into financial impactthe actual monetary contribution from a project or program. Although monetary value is becoming a critical concern, it is the comparison of this value with the project costs that captures stakeholders attention and translates into ROI. Show me the money is the familiar response from individuals asked to invest (or continue to invest) in organizational efforts. At times, this response is appropriate. At other times, it may be misguided; measures not subject to monetary conversion are also important, if not critical, to most projects. However, excluding the monetary component from a success profile is unacceptable in this age of the show me generation. The monetary value is often required before a project is approved. Sometimes, it is needed as the project is being designed and developed. Other times, it is needed after project implementation. This issue is compounded by concern that most projects today fail to live up to expectations. A systematic process is needed that can identify barriers to and enablers of success and can drive organizational improvements. The challenge lies in doing it developing the measures of value, including monetary value, when they are needed and presenting them in a way so that stakeholders can use them.