Demonstrate value, and the world will knock down your door.
However, value can mean different things to different people. Your boss and your customers hold widely divergent views of your value. If you're in the business of running a corporate university, your students have a third opinion.
So, can you measure value?
Not only can you measure value, it's a must in running your business today. It is critical to allocate people, budgets and processes to develop meaningful measurement and evaluation (M&E) for your organization. Whether you are looking for return on investment (ROI), return on effort (ROE), business results, transfer of learning (back to the workplace), knowledge transfer (in an intervention) or just a good old-fashioned smiley sheet to tell you that the food was tasty and the facilitator friendly, we all know measurement and evaluation require resources and strategic thought.
Aligned Corporate Objectives
Measurement and evaluation is not only for proving value to your ultimate customer. It's also important to make sure the corporate university's objectives are in line with the larger corporate objectives. Proving value to senior executives may be the single most important reason to create solid M&E tools.
What will impress them? Demonstrate, through measurement and evaluation, the impact of your training (or products and services) in the workplace. This is the best measurement of all.
Many would argue that all this measuring business saps time and money that would be better spent on programs, classes and teaching. I would argue that the stakes are too high not to invest. It's like going to the gym. We know we should exercise, but who has the time and money? Of course, it catches up with you in the end.
Forgo the excuses, and face the facts. The day of reckoning is at hand and, at least in the case of M&E you can be preparedï¿½and at very little cost.
At some point, the questions will come down from on high (although arguably, you should want the information flowing voluntarily out of your department in all directions), and you had better be prepared. Your departmentï¿½s very existence, or at least a good portion of next year's budget, may depend on it.
In any corporation today, management wants to know three things when determining your department's basic value:
- Are your products and services aligned with and actively supporting corporate business objectives? (Do you know management's needs?)
- Are your products and services “real world?” (Do you know your audience?)
- What results are you achieving? (Are your efforts improving performance?)
For example, the University of Toyota School of Retail Professional Development has invested heavily in the M&E process. There were a couple of reasons behind it: to prove the school's contribution and value to Toyota and its dealers, but also to help Toyota's work groups feel good about the difference their work makes every day in the lives of those they touch.
Through a series of multi-level evaluations, the school has been able to communicate this throughout the organization. This kind of evaluation can have an interesting effect. Sometimes other business units within the company like what they see and ask you for advice and assistance in this area. Often, they'll pay you for it.
M&E Budget Allocations
What other things can be measured? A well-run M&E department can quickly and efficiently conduct a study of stakeholder perceptions or a regular survey of students, or reveal the perceptions of industry leaders. A good M&E department not only can collect and archive information, but also can create meaningful analysis of the voice of the customer, pilot results or quantified business results.
How much should be allocated for M&E? A good rule of thumb is to allocate between 1 percent and 3 percent of an annual budget to M&E activities. This 1 percent investment, in many cases, can help justify the remaining 99 percent of your organization's expenditures.
Only through constant measurement can we ensure the achievement of value-added service to our customers and our parent corporationsï¿½with the data to prove it. Set aside some time and money to invest in M&E to whatever degree possible in your world. You'll reap dividends you could not have imagined.
Chuck O'Keefe is national manager, associate dean for the University of Toyota's School of Retail Professional Development. He is responsible for the school's curriculum development, operations, strategic alliances, research, measurement & evaluation, quality management and e-learning for a student body of more than 100,000 Toyota dealer associates. Chuck can be reached at email@example.com.