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Maximizing Current and Future Technology Investments

A Return on Investment

The question of what overall gains or benefits can result from this laptop deployment is a difficult one. In such questions of return on investment (ROI), it is important to recognize the variety of value propositions that can be used to describe the desired or expected benefits. These benefits vary with different points of view, and can range from simple cost savings from operational efficiencies in CPS work to improved quality of life for children at risk and their families. The value proposition from the point of view of the individual CPS worker may include such benefits as improved quality or timeliness of documentation, increased time available for client contact, decreased work-related stress and better information access for decision making. The agency perspective might expand this value proposition to include higher morale and job satisfaction, cost savings on travel, lower staff turnover, and improved agency performance on productivity metrics. By contrast, the value from the public’s point of view may focus instead on lower incidence of child abuse and better support for families and communities. Other relevant points of view could include related state or local agencies or the state government as a whole.

This assessment report presents results from two main points of view, that of the agency and that of the individual CPS worker. Moreover, only certain measures of results were used. Therefore any discussion of return on investment is limited to those points of view and the related results. We therefore have a useful but necessarily limited picture of ROI. It is arguable that other benefits were obtained, particularly from the point of view of the public, but they were not included. While the public perspective is the ultimate basis for determining the benefits of such an investment, tracing and documenting those outcomes was not possible for this assessment. Therefore it is not possible to judge whether the maximum returns were obtained.

The question of whether maximizing returns could be obtained hinges in part on possible barriers to full implementation and optimal use of the technology. Our results in this assessment showed that there are important barriers to obtaining the maximum value from the use of these laptop computers, even in the limited number of measures we used. These issues are discussed in more detail below.