Defining ROI Helps to Measure It
Everybody wants a return on their investment that is. But do most people who demand a fair and profitable return take the time to define what their actual ROI should be or are they just blatantly saying I need an ROI, expecting huge results?
FYI: For those of you who demand an ROI, some advice-it's impossible to see an ROI if you haven't defined it up front.
What I mean by "defined" is that an ROI could be dollars recovered on a piece of technology that will streamline your operations. It could also be competitive services improvement, "going green," reduced labor, additional members, enhanced image, or myriad other returns. You get the idea.
Take document management systems, for example. When a credit union signs up for imaging, archival and retrieval technology, it knows immediately that the institution will most likely save costs in paper, ink and storage space-basically a significant reduction in the use of tangible items.
These areas are easily defined because they're painfully obvious, so they're elementary to aim for. But users can have a secondary ROI: the bonus of being environmentally conscious by saving a few trees and keeping a river, lake or stream clean.
Again, if you define these clear ROI areas up front, they are easy to achieve. You just can't expect money to come flowing back to you arbitrarily. You have to lay the groundwork:
- What is the problem?
- Why do you need a new product/service/process?
- What is the new process?
- How much effort is involved?
- How long does it take compared to the old way?
- How does it work? (Better, you hope.)
- When is the "break even" point? (Is that doable?)
- What are the goals?
- How does it benefit your credit union and ultimately your members?
Other important ROI areas, however, are not so easily defined-such as streamlined operations. That's quite vague so you'll have to narrow it down. In document management, that would be easy and immediate access to digitally stored documentation. An item such as this means credit unions really have to think about the intangible savings and value they get from a new product, service or process.
Let's map it out: With an imaging technology, what used to take days or hours now takes seconds in retrieval time. This time savings translates to enhanced member service with a speedy teller line. This speedy teller line's ROI is measurable through increased productivity, number of transactions conducted, and average time at the teller window, etc.
Compared to life before the technology was implemented, it should paint a clear picture of benefits. Tellers can look up a document request instantly and provide the member with the appropriate information on the spot. There's a ton of ROI there, such as increased productivity, better service and reduced labor.
There's also that "techie cool factor" of having a pretty slick and super fast technology right at the teller window that members can talk about with their friends and family, a.k.a. word-of-mouth marketing. We all know how potent word-of-mouth marketing is. The return is usually quite good when this audience channel is actively engaged.
In our overworked society, it's a huge plus knowing that members can be in and out of the branch in minutes-all while providing stellar member service. There's huge value in that and an intangible ROI that keeps on giving as long as the service remains high.
So the question is: If you don't define what your ROI is up front, how will you know if you hit it?