Calculating Return on Effort
- How Small updates equal major savings
CAD Managers are called on to do
many things. One area that they constantly need to focus on is
productivity. Small adjustments to your environment can reap
big rewards over the course of time. But we have to weight the
benefit against the cost.
Applying productivity tools and
tweaks to AutoCAD is always a good idea because the return is
spread over a long period of time and with many users.
“… when you are going to
tweak an application to improve its throughput, you want an
application that will generalize and be of long term value
-- fixing an application that will only be used one time, or
which is of interest to a very limited audience, reduces the
payoff associated with the effort you're putting in.” - Joe
St Sauver, Ph.D., Director of User Services and Network
Applications at the University of Oregon Computing Center.
These adjustments may be large,
like upgrading to the next release of software or buying a new
plotter. Some may come in smaller forms like a new AutoLISP
routine, making a refinement in the CAD Standard or just fixing
a bad block that is causing problems to multiple files.
Whatever form these adjustments
take it most often includes the process of defining the “Return
On Effort” (ROE). I use Return on Effort because most often the
CAD Manager does not have to spend money to save money. So
there is no investment in dollars, yen or pesos. It is just a
matter of effort being expended (albeit manhours)
Most of us go through ROE calcs
in our lives. We may use them to justify the effort of getting
off the couch and doing some exercise to loose weight. Is it
worth the effort? There are no dollars involved unless you need
equipment. Running is free, unless you need shoes or a tread
mill. Taking a 30 minute walk is usually free. So the
process is determined by calculating your return on effort. If
I need to loose 10lbs. then the effort to get off the couch is
So let’s say that you are
trying to determine the ROE on something as small as defining a
layer name for a new object.
Take the amount of time that
one task takes now (current level of effort) and what it would
take after the new standard is in place (improved LOE).
Creating a new layer that has
not been defined before or documented or that the user is
User has to call up other
files and look to see what others have used as a layer
name. They may also just ask around by talking to the
person next to them or get out of their chair and go see
someone or make a phone call. 2-5 minutes (worst case)
Let’s say that they need 2
new layers per drawing. That would give us 9 minutes total
per drawing max, 3 minutes minimum.
Drawings in a set = 150 =
10% of the drawings need new layers = 15 = 135 minutes per
project = 2.25 hours times 30 projects a year = 67.5 hours.
Even at the minimum time it takes to find the layer name of
3 minutes would return us 22.5 hours per year.
5 - .5 x 2 x 15 / 60 x 30 =
If you want to think in
dollar amounts then at $25.00 (fill in your own number) per
hour would yield $1,687.00 saved per year just by defining
So if we can define the
layers and educate everyone in the new layer names (or just
make them look in the book) (or better yet, program the
system to do it for you) we will have had a good return on
effort for this task.
The users look in the
updated Standards book or better yet use a custom menu - 30
.5 x 2 x 15 / 60 x 30 = 7.5
A max savings of up to 4.5
minutes per layer needed. That means that we saved 60 hours
We have to calc in the time
it takes to make the modification. Let’s say it took us 10
hours to define the name, update the book, tell everyone it
was in the book and get a copy to everyone. For the time
being we will ignore the repro cost of printing the new page
for the book.
Now for the ROE calc
67.5 – 7.5 = 60 hours per
year saved taking in to account the 10 hours it took to fix
it brings us a total of 50 hours saved in the first year.
An ROE of 74% (50 hours
saved divided by 67.5 hours spent the old way). If it were
an investment of money, you would jump on it. Where can I
get 74% ROI on my money? I want to invest in that.
Hopefully you get the idea.
Small time savings add up quick!