$23 For A Deli Sandwich?

For some people it’s an absurd amount to pay. For others, it’s just a great lunch.

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By Jon McDonald
I have talked to a number of people recently about the justification for investing in an ESL methodology. “What’s the ROI?” is a question I hear fairly often.

I’m currently on vacation in New York City with my family, and during the trip I’ve realized just how subjective ROI can be. What’s the ROI on a $23 deli sandwich? At home I’d never think about paying that much, but in New York I almost consider it a bargain. My ROI is totally personal and also very much dependent on my current situation.

In a design engineering environment there are a number of potential benefits of applying an ESL methodology, but each benefit is only a benefit to you if it has an impact for you. That might sound a little like a “yogi-ism,” so I’ll rephrase it a little: “It only matters to you if it matters to you.” The important thing that’s really come into focus for me is that no one can tell you what the ROI of the investment is for you. You have to understand your own problems, your challenges and your opportunities for optimization.

Best practices can be great things to learn from. Best practices can provide direction and framework for thinking about an ROI, but the ROI only means something if it is specific to your situation, to your particular challenges and opportunities.

I’ve witnessed this in customer adoptions of ESL flows. The most successful customer deployments I’ve seen have been when the customer started by identifying and understanding their own problems, identifying the goals for improvement and how they were going to measure their success against those goals—before they thought at all about the specifics of what an ESL methodology could provide. Once they got to the point of thinking about the ESL methodology they didn’t get distracted by the bright and shiny promises offered by vendors, but they were able to focus on the capabilities that would allow them to realize value based on their specific needs.

At the end of the day if you don’t know yourself, and know what something is worth to you based on your particular situation, you are not going to be able to judge the value of the capabilities provided to you.

–-Jon McDonald is a technical marketing engineer for the design and creation business at Mentor Graphics.