Can we quantify the return on investment (ROI) of a Design Sprint? Discover how this methodology allows substantial savings and adds value to your product. We live in an exciting time, digital business transformation is on and the established order is shaken up. New models of disruptive startups such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix or Spotify are reinventing entire industries. It is in this tense and hyper competitive context that companies must update their digital tools, with high stakes involved.

Let’s talk money

Creating a new website, a mobile application, improving an intranet, rethinking a packaging or even a developing a strategy … All these projects take time, need very specific skills and require a substantial investment.

When I ask my friends “what do you think the average cost of developing a mobile application is?” the answer I get is: “well 3000 … wait 5000? no… it can’t be 10’000$??”

To give one number, the entry ticket would actually be closer to 150,000$.

This article from the website Formotus has brought together various recent statistics from the US market. We’re talking about “business” applications.  Keep in mind that this is the initial cost of the App (ie v.1.0 on the Store). It is clear that the application will evolve over time and that the cost of infrastructure and maintenance can be significant and will increase the price.

There are exists calculators that can give a rough estimate on the cost of an app. They operate on the principle of giving an estimate based on functionality.

Although the approach is not perfect and does not take into account the number of screens or the expected visual quality, you still get a good ballpark estimate.

The real cost of an App

A significant part of the cost is not even visible to the end user, because it is caused by the infrastucture, servers, web services etc. The development cost (coding) is also very important: in Switzerland, a working day of a developer costs on average between 1000 – 1500$. This often requires very specialized knowledge and many years of experience. Some agencies try offshoring (e.g. India or North Africa) where rates are much lower, but very often the quality suffers, and it requires many hours of project management to get an acceptable product. In the end, the financial saving is not guaranteed.

In order to create a website or a mobile application, you need a team consisting of many specialists: Project Manager / Product Owner, Business Analyst, Designer, Developer, System Engineer, Tester. Each of these experts will spend a few days to several weeks on the project. If one refers to the statistics of the website Clutch, the average App project is around 125 days. It generally takes between 3 to 6 months from the initial idea to the launch on the store.

Where time is wasted on a project?

In most digital projects, the different stakeholders work in “silos” and rarely meet. This lack of direct relationship leads to misunderstanding and frustration, and decisions usually go back and forth.

Another important aspect is the user feedback. It sometimes happens that an app is launched but gets negative feedback from early adopters. In-depth testing will then be conducted and the problem will eventually be detected, with the consequence of having to modify the code and experience along the way. This results in costs and delays.

As a designer, I often thought about my role and my added value. I came to the conclusion that my contribution is absolutely necessary for approximately 20% of the design work. The Design Sprint focuses precisely on this time period.

Optimize your budget with Design Sprint

One of the innovative aspects of the Design Sprint is the concept of “timeboxing”.
This “constraint” of five days requires us to go quickly, to focus on the project, seek simplicity and efficiency. It is also the insurance for you to get the best return on investment: many ideas and experiments in a very short time.

The challenge of Design Sprint is to deliver maximum value in a short amount of time.

In contrast to a specifications document, a prototype doesn’t need  to be perfect and comprehensive. It is actually a space for experimentation, a “time-bubble”  that stimulates creativity and innovative solutions.

During a Design Sprint, we do not seek scientific accuracy: instead, we will focus on emotion, simplicity and figure out if the product feels right. “As a user, do I want to use this app?” When it comes to speed, common sense works miracles and solves many problems.

The real financial gain of a Design Sprint is not the time saved on the visual design. It is above all the work on the consistency of the experience and simplification of features. All that has been simplified will not be part of the project and will therefore not be developed. Here lies the ROI of Design Sprint.

Think again about the daily rate of a developer (1000-1500$). Spare him a few weeks of work by simplifying or removing a bunch of useless features – this is what will be saved on the budget of your product.