Monday, January 29, 2007

Return on time invested (ROTI)

Ken Haycock, director of the School of Library & Information Science at San Jose State University, was one of the speakers last week at the SLA Leadership Summit in Reno, NV. His lively and informative presentation was entitled "Leadership and You: Tackling the Dragon." One of the many things he touched on was "return on time invested." A quick search of Google does not provide a good definition or example for us. Most of the examples have to do with meetings, training or product sales. (Good example here.)

As I heard Haycock talked, I realized that return on time invested (ROTI) is something we deal with in our projects, but likely not in an organized manner. Could we implement procedures in our programs to measure ROTI and then eliminate activities that have a poor return on the time invested in them? For example, are there meetings or procedures that have a low return on investment?

Now I must admit that some tasks take a long time and may seem to have a poor return (ROTI), especially when "our bosses" look at them, yet they can be essential. For example, one project spent approx. 30 minutes per item research the item and creating the metadata. That was a huge investment of time, which in the short-term might have a poor ROTI, yet in the long-term might have a high return on the investment.

Perhaps one use of ROTI is thinking about alternate ways of getting things done. If I invest the time of someone who is knowledgeable at doing the task, how does the ROTI compare to having someone who is not knowledgeable doing the task? How much time would each invest in the task? Which would give the better return on investment?

I will have to think about ROTI more. For now, I thought it a worthwhile concept to mention.


Sushil Bhasin said...

I think this is a brilliant concept. It brings in the value of time which is becoming more and more vital a resource. A resource which is non renewable, nor compressible, and allows no compromise. It is important for any achiever to understand the value of time.
I am also happy to read another article on ROTI by Chester J Bowling. This is available online at
We need to study more of this.

Sean P. Dillon said...

Hi Jill. This is an excellent post. Our social media agency focuses heavily on the concept of ROTI when working with clients.

The time they invest in marketing their businesses, themselves via social media has no direct return because their "day job" or main area of expertise suffers. When they leverage our agency to help with their social media and streamline their processes, the return on time invested becomes much more apparent.

Reid & Jana said...

Thanks for bringing this up! I think another important factor is to remember that the more time you spend the less effective you are being. For example, if someone is inspecting a product for defects, 90% of the defects will be detected within, lets say, 30 seconds. From then it will take another 2 minutes to detect the other 10%. If this is true, the first 30 seconds are much more valuable than the final 2 minutes. You can then make a choice as to what an acceptable quality rate is or what you want your return on time to be and then execute accordingly.