Julian King & Associates Ltd
Helping people use evidence and explicit values to make good decisions
Policy, evaluation, value for investment
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The award-winning Value for Investment (VfI) approach is a rigorous way of determining how well resources are used in a policy or program, whether the resource use creates enough value, and how more value can be created.

We’re on a mission to share VfI, offering training, mentoring and resources to support its adoption and help people provide better answers to value-for-money questions. Scroll down for VfI training options.

Combining strengths of evaluation and economics

Decision makers and stakeholders need to understand whether policies and programs are worth the resources invested in them. This is a crucial question that deserves a straightforward answer. The VfI approach combines economic and evaluative thinking to provide the necessary clarity.

The VfI approach was developed through doctoral research. It builds on sound theory from evaluation and economics – and it’s designed to be practical and useful.

Why Value for Investment?

Value for investment shifts our focus from the money to a broader perspective that views policies and programs as investments in value propositions with potential to create significant social, cultural, environmental or economic value. It positions resource use and value creation as questions that evaluators already have the methods and tools to address.

How VfI works

VfI isn’t just another method – it’s a system to guide the use of existing methods and tools, with a set of principles and a process to support contextually responsive evaluation.

The VfI approach accommodates multiple values and multiple sources of evidence to gain a nuanced understanding of program resources, processes, consequences and value. The approach hinges on contextual definitions of good resource use, aligned with the program’s value proposition. These definitions provide a transparent framework to make sense of the evidence.

A VfI evaluation follows a sequence of eight steps. The process is designed to be collaborative and inclusive, co-creating value with stakeholders to support evaluation validity, credibility, and use.

Around the world

The VfI approach is used worldwide to evaluate complex policies and programs, ranging from one-off assessments to organisation-wide evaluation systems and performance frameworks. Government agencies, consulting firms, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral organisations have used the approach.

Oxford Policy Management joined forces with Julian to produce this VfM assessment guide. The approach is included in evaluation training at whole-of-government level in the UK through the Evaluation Task Force, a joint Cabinet Office and Treasury unit established to ensure evidence and evaluation sit at the heart of spending decisions. VfI is also included in the University of Melbourne’s Online Master of Evaluation program. For more examples of VfI in action, see our resources page.

VfI training

VfI training workshops can be provided online or face-to-face and can be customised to fit your needs. Workshops can be scheduled on request and are offered periodically through evaluation associations. See below for details.

One-day interactive training workshop

This is the format we deliver most often, and can either be delivered in a full-day or two half-days, with a mix of short presentations, group discussion, exercises and examples. Topics include:

  • What is value for money? Why is it important?
  • Evaluative questions about good resource use
  • Introduction to the Value for Investment approach, including a step-by-step process for developing and using rubrics in evaluation
  • VfI criteria, standards and rubrics
  • Co-developing context-specific VfI rubrics with stakeholders
  • Identifying evidence needs and selecting an appropriate mix of methods
  • Incorporating economic methods of evaluation (such as cost-benefit analysis) within a broader evaluation framework
  • Making sense of mixed methods evidence with stakeholders and rubrics
  • Reporting findings that get straight to the point and answer key evaluation questions, supported by evidence and explicit reasoning
  • Reflection, recap & take-homes.

Participants receive optional pre-workshop reading and a post-workshop take-home pack including a copy of the slides and links to online resources.

Half-day training workshop

There is increasing demand for this workshop, which places a spotlight on evaluation rubrics as a powerful tool for synthesising criteria, standards and evidence to make warranted judgements about resource use. Topics include:

  • What is VfM? Why is it important?
  • What are rubrics and why use them?
  • A step-by-step process for developing and using rubrics in evaluation
  • Co-developing context-specific VfI rubrics with stakeholders
  • Making sense of mixed methods evidence with stakeholders and rubrics.

Customised workshops

VfI training is often tailored to meet the specific needs of different groups, with examples and exercises relevant to the sectors and settings of the organisations involved.

In addition to the standard topics covered above, extension topics can be added (with extra workshop time) including deeper dives into:

  • Rubric challenges, tips and tricks
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems; evaluation; economic evaluation; and VfI: designing a coordinated and integrated approach
  • Value propositions – what are they, why use them, how to use a value proposition to build a bridge from a theory of change to a set of VfI criteria
  • Power-sharing and stakeholder voice in rubric development and making evaluative judgements
  • Key types and sources of evidence for VfI evaluations including economy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness indicators, their strengths and limitations, and broader qualitative and quantitative evidence options
  • Deriving recommendations and identifying opportunities to create more value from the resources invested
  • Bespoke topics as required.

Note that these workshops do not provide detailed instruction in the design and implementation of economic evaluations (e.g. cost-benefit analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis) because there are many other courses that focus on economic methods of evaluation, which we are not seeking to duplicate. The workshops can include a brief overview of economic methods, focusing on when and how to include them in a VfM assessment.

For examples of VfI in action, see our resources page