95% of companies do not measure international assignment ROI – That’s because it’s not that easy…


“Given the inordinate amount of cost pressure on mobility today, it is somewhat surprising that more companies do not seem to have basic cost management practices in place. Only 62% of respondents indicated that they track costs during an assignment, and even fewer noted that a cost benefit analysis is required at the outset of an assignment. With barely two-thirds of companies actually tracking the basic and most transparent part of their investment in assignments – their cost, it is not surprising that 95% of companies do not measure international assignment ROI.” 

See more at: http://globalmobilitytrends.brookfieldgrs.com/?q=5#/keytrends

Yes, Brookfield. Well researched. I just want to say though: Measuring international assignment ROI is easier said than done. There are a number of reasons.

1) International assignment targets are usually not that well defined.

Usually they are blurry, hard to measure or non-existent. In order to determine ROI a mix of operational indicators would need to be measured regularly (performance on assignment, repatriate retention, business volume driven by expats, savings and improvements through knowledge transfer run by expats, risk reduction through expats, staffing stability and culture transfer from HQ to other areas of the organization). Most of these indicators would need to be transformed into measurable KPIs first. They would need to part of management information systems and we would need to have a clear understanding of what is actually expected of our expats around the world.

2) An international assignment is not only an “investment” by the company.

There should be a business case behind it. BUT: Surprise…many companies have a hard time even differentiating between a developmental assignment and a strategic assignment. Often international assignments are not really thought through. Assignees are sent to “fill a gap”, “to accelerate a process”, “to drive more sales” and “to make them there do everything the way we do it here.” (Ever heard this before?)

3) Decision makers are not involving Global Mobility Professionals enough.

Most managers still think of HR as the troublemakers. Instead of asking Global Mobility Professionals for support in defining assignment targets and setting up a business case, they see this task as an “administrative burden”. So they involve the Global Mobility Professional as late as possible in the process. Just to be sure no one is challenging them. Here assignment sponsors, senior managers could just trust a bit more in the competency of the Global Mobility Professional and ask them for support in defining the international assignment business case.

If you need any help in setting up a structure for measuring ROI, defining the international assignment business case or Global Mobility in general do let us know.


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