Tech professionals shudder at the thought of writing business cases to get a project going. On the flip side, we also suck at seeing whether our projects are meeting its stated goals. Here’s one way to do exactly those things.
Return on Investment. Sounds like a scary term for most us techies, right? That is because no one ever really took the time to show us why it was so important and how it impacted the way we develop software – so here it is!
One of the ways to understand ROI is using Time In Motion studies. This is a very old technique used in the industrial age mostly in conveyor-belt driven manufacturing sheds! But we can continue to use this technique in high-tech applications like software development.
Imagine, for example, you have created a calendering system and you have launched your product (either to your corporate user-base or to the general public). Like the amazing Agile team you are, you welcome feedback and you keep hearing this:
“Cancelling appointments takes a long time and is a really painful process”
Okay – so what do you do? Most of us would get a story created and get to streamlining the Cancellation process, right? Don’t!
Here’s your chance to deploy your best Business Analyst to do some TIM work! Ask them to stand over the person doing the Cancellation and time how long it takes. While they are at it, then should also time how long it takes to do a Booking process. Here’s what they find:
- Bookings: 3 minutes average over 10 users
- Cancellations: 5 minutes average over 10 users
This is great data and it clearly shows that the user-feedback is right. Oh wait – no actually does not show us anything other than the fact that ONE cancellation takes longer than ONE booking. So your star Business Analyst also takes a moment to do a quick database search and add’s this to your investigation facts:
- There are 100 Bookings made per week on average
- There are 10 Cancellations per week on average
Now, you can actually make some good decisions. For example you could now ask your dev team to make the Cancellation process go down from 5 minutes to 4 minutes. This will save your users 10 minutes per week! But wait, what if if you ask your dev team to make the booking process go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes you would be saving your users 100 minutes per week!
The last piece of the puzzle is missing is the the estimation for the two pieces of work. Once you have the estimation you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Why take all this time to do TIM and calculate ROI? Well because everyone else you talk to ourside of tech will be able to immediately understand what you are saying and make your life easy by making decisions for you!