“There is no right way to do the wrong thing”

– Stephen Covey

All web sites must deliver value. This includes higher ed web sites. As higher education gets flattened, a valuable strategy will be to focus on the return on investment (ROI) that the web provides our institutions.

Measuring value can be a challenge and takes time and effort. Unfortunately you can’t measure ROI with a simple equation. It requires a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis and is often more art than science. I know many web professionals who say they don’t have the time for evaluation because they are just too busy, but regardless of how busy you are, this is time well spent. All of us should be able to quickly articulate the value our sites provide.

Focusing on ROI has many benefits. First, it can be used as the basis for a formal evaluation process for prioritizing projects. Too often, ad hoc decisions are made without a formal structure and process, resulting in an inefficient use of resources. Determining ROI prior to working on a project also sets expectations and helps determine if a project was successful. ROI also brings accountability into the equation by holding people responsible for the success or failure of a given project. Finally, web teams that use ROI are more valued and taken more seriously by management.

Recently we have been using our project management/work order request system to track the exact time we spend on both new projects and the maintenance of existing sites and applications. This allows us to better understand the ROI of each site and application we create. I was always able to provide fairly accurate guesstimates, but because we are now providing real numbers on the resources allocated to each project, our efforts are taken more seriously by management.