Many in both the private and public sectors are concerned about the IG report that faults the Veterans Affairs Department for excessive spending on two conferences in Orlando, Florida in 2011. The intention of these conferences seems sincere—training and investing in employees is an integral part of good human capital management. Funds may have been misspent due to a lack of thorough analyzation of data. When the amount of money being spent on an event is significant, the event warrants an ROI analysis, either before or after the event, or both. If the Veterans Affairs Department were to do an ROI analysis for this training event, they may find areas they could improve upon in order to increase the ROI, saving money and spending the money more efficiently.
Looking back on an event and criticizing it is easy to do, but we must look forward and find solutions to avoid the mistakes made in the past. Using ROI is a great way to look at data and discover opportunities to improve the way funds are spent. Calculating ROI before a big event is a useful way to see if the event is worth executing; using ROI after an event helps bring to light areas that could be better next time. There are always intangibles that are tricky to quantify; however, ROI is pretty straightforward overall. It is also the only tool that allows you to assign some value to intangibles, which usually turn out to be pretty valuable, indeed.