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A hard benefit is a measurable financial result of a certain activity. This can include a special project, a new policy, or a targeted program. Hard benefits tend to be fairly straightforward to determine because they are based on measurable facts. They are also often directly attributable to a specific action or condition.
Many organizations will use the hard benefit as an indicator of success for a particular venture. This kind of result can be more persuasive and easy to understand than less defined results. For that reason, these benefits can be particularly useful to reference when communicating with external parties. Depending on how accurately the facts are processed, it also does not usually leave room for interpretation or doubt about the results of an action.
A hard benefit is quantifiable. For example, it can be expressed as a percentage increase or a financial amount. It is a benefit which can be proven with results such as statistics.
There are different ways that a hard benefit can manifest itself. It can result in an increase in revenue or an increase in cost savings. In all cases, the final result is that the venture gains money. A good hard benefit always increases the bottom line.
The opposite of hard benefits are soft benefits. These perks are anything but money and can often be difficult to define. They can be benefits that are offered in recognition of an employee’s general performance or position, such as a company car. Soft benefits can also be a positive result that is not directly attributable to a certain action, policy, or program. Overall, they are more qualitative than quantitative results, though even that aspect can be difficult to define.
Sometimes hard and soft benefits can be used together to provide a more comprehensive view of results. This is particularly valuable where quality of experience is just as important as financial gain. It is less beneficial when results must be more precise. For this reason, some companies will not consider soft benefits when determining the return on investment (ROI) resulting from a certain initiative.
Often the hard benefit of a venture will be considered first when evaluating the results of a venture. This provides a factual base for deeper analysis. Then examining soft benefits can add dimension to the statistics. Linking the two benefits is a way to explain why the statistics have turned out as they have.