Takeaway

Key Concepts: Input, Output, and Outcome as Related to Efficiency and Effectiveness

Look for a mixture of input, output, and outcome indicators in organization’s sustainability reports to understand fully the various aspects of an impact and its link to efficiency and effectiveness.

Some indicators use the ratio of input to output which is a measure of efficiency. Efficiency indicators answer any of the following questions:

  • What quantity of resources (input) are used to reduce a certain environmental impact (output)?
  • What quantity of resources (input) are used to produce a certain quantity of products (output)?
  • How many hours of work (input) are used to provide a certain quantity of charitable donations (output)?

If just outcome is of concern, then effectiveness indicators are used. They determine the extent to which an objective was accomplished, regardless of cost. Effectiveness or outcome indicators answer any of the following questions.

  • How well does a certain technology reduces GHG emissions?
  • How satisfied are the communities in which we operate?
  • How well do our procedures preserve biodiversity?

Other indicators use the ratio of input to outcomes to measure more thoroughly the cost effectiveness of certain activities Cost effectiveness indicators answer any of the following questions.

  • Which technology provides the greatest reduction of GHG emissions at least cost?
  • Which benefits are most satisfying to our employees and cost the least?
  • Which procedures provide the greatest biodiversity at the least cost?