The website www.economicevaluation.com.au, which had its origins at the Project Evaluation Conference 2009, provides a free way for industry professionals to teach themselves economic evaluation. At its core is a set of fast-moving modules and three worked examples.
The website recognises that economic evaluation is a discipline with a hierarchy of three levels:
- evaluating the project/business
- hands-on modelling.
There are a set of modules for each level that describe the concepts and activities in detail. These emphasise that the most important and rewarding work is the evaluation of Level 2. The economic model created in Level 3 is merely a working tool and should not become a sophisticated ‘trophy’ in Excel that only one or two people can comfortably use.
Hands-on modelling contains three sets of practices designed to make any model rigorous and intuitive so that it can be easily understood and used by others in the project team. Even if the model develops into a long, detailed and complex workbook, it should remain easy to follow and be intuitive. The website advocates freedom to devise any architecture that best suits the project under study, but promotes rigour through the following practices:
- four cash streams and graphs
- three architectures – concept, prefeasibility and feasibility
- six principles.
The modules in the Level 2 evaluation use conversational language to describe in detail the broad range of activities needed to properly understand and characterise a project/business. It stresses that net present value is nothing more than the mathematical treatment of a whole set of opinions, is not an absolute truth and is only a fraction of the evaluation process. The modules describe in detail the range of economic metrics that should be computed and the full spectrum of equally important characterisations required to make the decision in Level 3.
Card, P B, 2016. Teach yourself economic evaluation, in Proceedings Project Evaluation 2016, pp 160–171 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).