The problem with sacred cows is that at one time they were the latest, greatest thing and someone invested time, energy, and heart into creating them.There was a program at my state association where one of my members said “It really means nothing to get the award certificate (It was a REALTOR honor society of some sort) but as long as they keep offering it I am applying.” This program was expensive, ate up tons of staff time, and benefited just a handful of members of whom most did not view the award as having value.
Using evidence based management practices, as defined in Part 1 the first step in sun-setting the program is to track the actual time it takes, from start to finish, for your employees to administer the program. Each and every time a staff member touches the program- log the time. Obviously, the next step is to track actual dollars. Using a zero-based budgeting model take your payroll and your overhead costs (fixed costs of operation rent/mortgage, property taxes, utilities etc.), divide this amount by the number of employees, and you have your average cost of implementing a program. At the end of the program calculate the hard dollars and the staff implementation costs. Don’t think you need to calculate this based on the hourly rates of a particular employee. Every program/service has an impact on every employee. Use the Zero-Based rate. At this point you have quantifiable, verified, actual costs of the program.
Next contact by phone, not via email survey (people rarely take surveys), record the conversation for notes later (using IMEET or GOTOMeeting is perfect for this) and ask each program participant a few questions: On a scale of 1-5 what is the value of this program to you. On a scale of 1-5 how likely are you going to participate next year? On a scale of 1-5 how would you rate the overall value to the overall membership? On a scale of 1-5 how upset would you be if the program was discontinued. Next go to qualitative- why did you participate? Why do you think most members do not participate? You may want to email survey all your members (if you believe you can get a decent response) and ask them to rate the value of the program. If you do choose to survey the entire membership use this free sample size calculator to determine how many responses you will need to put forth a valid representation of the membership with a confidence level in the results of 90-95% http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm
Take all this data and turn it into a graphical representation- its just easier for your leaders to see the impact in a pie chart or graph versus numbers. Find one or two quotes that summarize why this program should be sun-setted and put them under/to the side of each graph. Show graphically how many members benefit from the program versus all other members. Take those same hours of your employees and show where they could be applied to make other programs more successful. Ensure leadership has a handout of all the quotes. Offer a workable alternative- a plaque in the lobby listing all past winners, a scholarship in the name of the program, something that keeps it alive in a different way that doesn’t cost continuous staff time and dollars.
It is hard to argue against hard data. Provide evidence not opinion as to why the program is no longer valued and valid.