In the TVM system an economic activity:
Use of resources has two components:
- Uses resources to do something, and
- By doing something, has some impact
Impact also has two compnents:
- Use of resources that are normally accounted for in the money accounting of an organization
- Together with resources used by an organization that are not fully accounted for in the money accounting ... as for example in cash based systems, and
- Use of resources that are part of society's commons and not included at all in an organization's money accounting of activity costs.
Impact within an implementing organization is relatively easy to measure. It is a normal part of the management information for an organization and the accounting used to report financial performance.
- There is the impact on the organization, and also
- The impact on the broader society and the impact on the commons.
However, the impact on society and the commons is not usually measured with much formality. It is usual for the measure to be deduced from some statistical data that has very low reliability, and worse, excessively influenced by many different externalities.
It is a common practice to look at 'impact' from the viewpoint of the implementing organization and what it sees as its impact on the 'beneficiaries' of the activity. This is usually very different from the perspective of the community relative to the activity,
In the TVM system the core of the measurement is change in the state of the community. The state of the community comprises both state of society, that is people, and the state of the commons comprising everything not within the implementing organization itself.
Economic activities are the origin of value adding ... or value destruction. Data about activities may be used to explain why some aspect of the community balance sheet has changed ... but it might be quite obvious without much need for detailed data.
In corporate accountancy there is an integration between the balance sheet, the operating statement and the cash flow. The data in the accounts is the same ... and each of these reports shows a part of the whole. The data in each are coherent. The changes in the balance sheet are explained by the performance reported in the operating statement. The cash flow statement reconciles with the operating statement and the balance sheet.
Activity reporting is similar to the reporting of the corporate Profit and Loss Account or Operating Statement. An Activity Report may show some of the characteristics of economic activities in the community that have had an impact on socio-economic changes. An Activity Report helps to explain the changes that have taken place in the balance sheet of the community. Thus, for example, an increase in stock levels of grain might be explained by an unusually good harvest ... and explain why there was a good harvest.
These ideas translate well to the TVM system. They may be used to deduce information that is not easily obtained. While it is relatively easy to collect balance sheet data, it is much more difficult to get all, or nearly all of the data to report reliably about activities. Using the inherent integration of balance sheet and operating statement, it is possible to use the changes between two balance sheets to deduce the result of economic activities without actually having all the details of the activities.
TVM also uses time series of key items to gain an understanding of what is happening in the community. Market prices are a leading indicator of market conditions and other broader issues in the community. For example, high food prices and low livestock prices are a reliable indicator of emerging famine conditions.