Getting to the Bottom of ROI: What Are My Options?

I talked last week about what to consider before you venture down the path of ROI:
          Data Availability (Which data doesn’t L&D own and what’s the process to get it?)
          Resources (Do you or your team have the time?)
          Capabilities (How do the capabilities of your resources impact what options might be feasible?)

Next week, we’ll start digging into to each approach for ROI, but let’s start by highlighting what the most common approaches are first.  Before that though, it’s important to understand the key factors which might impact the level of rigor available to you:

Soft ROI. Sometimes due to constraints with data, resources, or capabilities, we can only tell the story of ‘return’ with purely evaluation or activity data.  A soft return might be in the form of a presentation summarizing results around how effective a program was.  This could include data on activity, delivery effectiveness, knowledge gained, and even get into application and impact, but leveraging more generic indicators, potentially with qualitative data to support it.

Inferred ROI.  This approach lies somewhere in the middle, leveraging both evaluation data and some business data.  This wont’ be as extensive as a full study, but it should contain data to infer impact.  For example, comparing results from trained and untrained groups, trending results around the time of training, or looking at predictive outcomes from the evaluation, aligned with their actual business results.  We know there are a number of variables that impact any business outcome, so we’re not telling a story of causation, rather of inferred impact.

Full ROI Study.  This is the most rigorous approach and aligns to the work done by Patti and Jack Phillips of the ROI Institute. This is where you have the need to demonstrate a financial return on your investment leveraging a process that runs from defining outcomes/expectations all the way through the measurement, analysis, and reporting.  Patti will be writing a guest blog post to go into more detail on this in a few weeks.

I hope this is helping to pull this amorphous concept into something more concrete; I look forward to sharing more information in the coming few weeks.

Be Well and Happy Spring!

Chris LeBrun
Director, Professional Services

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