Program Return on Investment (ROI) Components
1. Business Improvement Project
The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) desires for students participating in the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program to realize a tangible return for their organizations as a result of attending the course. To accomplish this, each student will complete a major Business Improvement Project during the semester. This will introduce students to the concept of project management best practices and provide either a quantitative or qualitative value to the business to offset tuition expenses. To date, students have generated more than $4.5 million in ROI from their Business Improvement Projects. At the end of the course, each student will be required to submit a written management report and a presentation that they will use to present their Business Improvement Project during the final visit to Indianapolis.
To provide additional and ongoing value from the program, each company participating in the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program will receive each student’s Business Improvement Project from both the current, and future classes.
The Business Improvement Project assignment is introduced before students attend the first session of the course in the pre-visit one conference call that will include both the student and sponsor. This initial discussion will help students and sponsors identify a valuable project that will improve the business and provide a return on investment. During visit one, a course module will be dedicated to the Business Improvement Project where details of the project will be introduced and the management process fully explained. Students will also have access to a student mentor who will be available to meet with them throughout the course to discuss the Business Improvement Project and answer any questions the student has regarding the assignment.
Shortly after the first visit, students will complete and turn in a project charter that outlines the project in detail.
Elements of the project charter will include:
- Project Objectives—This answers the questions: What value does this project add to the organization? How does it align with the strategic priorities of the organization? What results are expected and what benefits will be realized?
- Project Scope—The project scope establishes the boundaries of the project. It identifies the limits and defines the deliverables.
- Project Milestones—This is a detailed project timeline that specifies when the different elements of the project will be completed and what the deliverables will be at each milestone.
- Business Impact Statement—This element lists the impact this project may have on existing systems or units.
- Roles and Responsibilities— This element describes the roles and responsibilities of project team members.
- Resources— This section identifies the initial funding, personnel and other resources committed to this project by the sponsor.
- Project Risks— This part identifies the high-level project risks and strategies to mitigate them.
- Success Measurements— This element identifies metrics and targets the student is trying to meet.
Requirements for the Management Report
The Business Improvement Project Management Report should be written as if it was being submitted to the company’s board of directors or executive management team for funding approval. Faculty will provide written and verbal feedback after the third visit. The report will be judged for its business value, report quality, compliance with the assignment and whether or not it's actionable.
Students should plan to include the following sections in the Management Report:
- Brief History of the Company: This section should include several paragraphs that provide a situational analysis for the project. What is the context of your company, and why is this project relevant at this point in time?
- Value to the Company: This section should address the benefits of the project, and what specific dollar value the student expects to achieve in a certain timeframe.
- Changes Being Implemented: This section answers the questions: What specifically are you trying to change about the company? How are you going about it? Who is involved? Where are you in the process? What will look different when you are successful? Students will also need to provide a timeline with execution dates for all project tactics and the date(s) by which they expect the project to deliver tangible value.
- Risks: Consider what might go wrong, and how significant risks to the company will be addressed to prevent unintended losses.
- Financials: Detail the total investment spent on the project and the project’s return on investment.
- Appendix: Students will put any relevant details in an appendices so the main body of the report is easily readable.
Requirements for the Presentation
Students will treat the Business Improvement Project presentation as if they were making a formal presentation to the company’s Board of Directors or Executive Management team and will have just 15 minutes to make their case on why the project should be funded. In doing so, students should:
- Demonstrate the relevance of the project to the company’s strategic plan
- Clearly state why the requested investment is a good investment for the owner
- Show how the owner and key stakeholders will be able to monitor the progress of the investment toward an acceptable return
- Create the presentation in PowerPoint or a similar program for use with a projector.
- Prepare to present their project for 15 minutes, and allow for an additional five minutes of questions. The standard speaking guideline is three minutes per slide, so students should aim for including four to six slides in their presentation.
Business Improvement Project Competition
Every student enrolled in the class will participate in the Business Improvement Project competition, which will be held on the final afternoon of the third visit. Each student will submit a written Management Report and a PowerPoint or similar type of presentation to present their Business Improvement Projects. The first round competition will be in groups of five students with judging done by attending sponsors, the NRHA Retail Leadership Institute Advisory Board and program faculty. Winners from each small group in the first round will then present to the entire class, attending sponsors and guests. Each of these students presenting as finalists will receive special recognition.