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A design sprint is not just this creative endeavour that takes 5 days of hard work. No, it must provide a return on investment. In order to calculate the return, we must figure the, firstly, the cost and, secondly, the value provided or generated.

In terms of value provided, Chris Calo at Google sees the value of design sprints in their ability to drive alignment and progress. But how do we quantity “alignment and progress”? Before we explore the value side of design sprints, let’s see how we could measure the cost side of such in-person workshops in simple economic terms.

“Chris Calo @Google sees the value of design sprints in their ability to drive alignment and progress.”

In fact, the cost side is somewhat easy to measure. It depends, to some degree though, on the size of the company that uses such a (design) method. In a big company such a design sprint is only a small part among many other activities. In smaller companies a sprint may take up everyone’s time for a full week. In any scenario and when viewed from a mid-term perspective, though, such a one-week activity is only 1.92% of a given year (in terms of weeks per person).

Alas, a full one-week activity has a much higher impact within smaller companies.

Who dedicate what time

Calculation a range for return on investment is crucial. Calculation a range for return on investment is crucial.

On a yearly basis, 5 people working one full week would imply a time commitment of 0.96% at a small company of 10. In a bigger company that employs 500 people, a 5-person team would spend about 0.0192% of everyone’s time per year. That’s a factor of 50.

From a monthly standpoint, the 5-person team in a 10-person company would spend about 5 : (4.33 * 10) = 11.5% (on average a month has 4.33 weeks). For the 500-person company that number is much smaller: 5 : (4.33 * 500) : 4.33 = 0.23%. If you’d consider one week as your timeframe, a sprint requires 5 : 10 = 50% of everyone’s time in that small company, and 5 : 500 = 1% in the bigger one.

But what does that mean in terms of hours?

As you already know about 5-7 people take part in such sprints. This group will be fully committed for about 40 hours each, resulting in between 200 - 280 hours in total for a full week. The facilitator prepares the whole sprint ahead of time and and would dedicate about 20-40 hours of her or his time prior to the sprint. The total time commitment would end up to be around 220 - 300 hours (depending on team size). These hours equate roughly to the 1.92% mentioned above (without facilitator hours), of course.

If the company brings in outside support to facilitate the sprint, the time commitment from inside the company would, of course, go down. The cost would then, of course, go up.

An agency would charge about 5,000 - 10,000 EUR for a design lead to facilitate the design sprint. For how this compares to the internal cost of such an initiative, read further.

Crunching the numbers

Let’s review what such an initiatives might actually cost.

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