Justifying UCD: cost benefits at IR/EDS

Cost-benefits were calculated using the recommended guidelines.

Maturity assessments

The maturity briefings and assessments cost £9800 in IR/EDS staff time.

Development cost/benefits

The methods used to improve JADs were: context of use analysis, set usability requirements, task analysis, task scenarios, preparation pack, paper prototyping, managing issues, using smaller teams, a project glossary, affinity diagramming and style guides.

These brought a degree of engineering to the workshops that hadn’t previously existed, and provided a framework for end users to make an effective contribution.

For a system with 20 functions the value of the total saving in staff time is estimated to be £231,000 (385,000 Euro). The cost of using these methods in JADs is estimated to be £88,500 (147,500 Euro), giving a cost benefit ration of 1:2.6 for these methods.

Use cost/benefits

Evaluation of the existing system, several prototypes and live running cost a total of £51,500. Evaluating an existing system clarified requirements, and the evaluations ensured that the requirements were met and enabled additional improvements to be made, which will lead to benefits in use.

It has not yet been possible to estimate the use benefits, but usability testing verified that staff could complete tasks quickly and to acceptable quality standards on their first day of using the on-line system. The user centred methods employed during development that ensured that the system was designed to meet real work scenarios played an important part in achieving these results.

Overall cost benefits

The overall cost of the maturity assessments, development and evaluation methods was £152,000 (253,000 Euro). The cost benefits of using all these methods based only on estimated savings in development costs, is 1:1.5. The potential benefits of savings in use have not yet been estimated, but are likely to be substantial, with 30,000 users whose time costs over one Euro a minute. Thus the actual cost benefits of using these techniques was almost certainly much higher.


The value of the methods to the business was sufficiently clear at the time of the second maturity assessment to commit to their wider usage without the need for a cost-benefit analysis. This analysis confirms the value of that decision.

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