I'm looking for a word (or phrase) to describe a situation that takes a lot of time and effort to set up initially, but the initial costs are (ideally) offset by the long-term gains.

Specifically I'm looking to implement new project management tools: they will take a lot of time and effort to implement, and the value won't be seen immediately, but down the road I would expect to see enough value from the implementation to justify the effort.

I feel like there is a term and it's been on the tip of my tongue but for the life of me I can't find it.

  • The early part is a steep learning curve.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 5:07
  • ROI - "return on investment"?
    – user662852
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:04
  • Thanks for the acceptance. The term you had been thinking of will come to you one morning around 3 am!
    – ab2
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 10:34
  • Untenable comes too mind. Realized paybacks tend to decay exponentially with time compared to promised ones.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 2 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


Your investment is far-sighted, and will pay off in the medium to long term. *

far-sighted, from The Free Dictionary

Planning prudently for the future; foresighted: large goals that required farsighted policies.

Example, the successful development of South Beach:

By now, the riches-to-rags-and-back-again saga of South Beach is familiar to many. The area's first real boom got rolling in the Mafia-fueled Roaring Twenties, and all those sophisticated art deco buildings of the 1930s were built for a Jewish clientele driven uptown. By the '70s the deteriorating deco district had become known as "God's waiting room," full of old folks, crime, and drugs. Preservationists and farsighted developers launched a heroic revival in the late '80s, with an assist from NBC's Miami Vice, and voile, a sun- and sex-soaked hot spot was born, christened South Beach.

  • I am avoiding "in the long run" because "in the long run we are all dead". (Keynes)
  • I like this a lot. It isn't the phrase I had been thinking of, but it works well and I'm going to accept this. Thanks!
    – Robert
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 3:05
  • Since we're analyzing the English, I'll point out that it should be "the area's first real..." (An apostrophe is missing in the original text.)
    – Mentalist
    Commented Jun 2 at 2:48
  • @Mentalist Thanks. I corrected it. Good catch!
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 2 at 14:49
  • Not far sighted, just far fetched. Project managers are looking to extract present value from promises they make to investors about the future. They have a short term, how do we monetize this, attitude.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 2 at 15:19
  • @Phil Sweet Agree, sort of. It is up to the investor to be selective, and not a sheep.
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 3 at 20:00

I would call it a good investment or a worthwhile investment, or something that will pay for itself many times over. If there is a more appropriate word or phrase it escapes me at the moment.

  • That's awfully close to what I'm looking for, but not quite. I feel like it's definitely an investment term.
    – Robert
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 11:47
  • "Will have a positive ROI", perhaps?
    – user173015
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:43

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