ROO: Return on Organization

A recent article in USA Today explores organization and how it can help keep expenses low in these tough economic times:

We have all heard about R.O.I. — Return on Investment. It’s a useful way to analyze whether you are receiving sufficient bang for your buck for your efforts.

But have you ever considered your R.O.O. — your Return on Organization?

Look, we all know that main two pain points for most small businesses are not enough time and not enough money. This is even more true in light of the current economic environment. But what if I told you there was a simple, affordable way to get more of both? After all, as we all know, time is money.

I have been doing some work with Office Depot recently in order to help small business owners understand how, with just a few smart changes, they can increase their R.O.O., and how that can have a significant impact on the bottom line. In fact, it is estimated that increased R.O.O. can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week and up to an additional 6% of revenue.

How? Well, think about it. It costs five times more to create a new customer than it does to keep a current one. The whole idea is that with some extra time you can take better care of your best customers. No, 20 minutes a day may not seem like much, but what if you used those 20 minutes a day to their maximum effectiveness? You could check in with customers, make some sales calls, send out some “checking-in” e-mails … that sort of thing.

His later suggestions for how to specifically be more organized at work aren’t too in-depth, but I think he makes a very good point in this first section of the article. Being efficient with your time can create more opportunities for profits. The implied flip-side, of course, is that being disorganized can cost you your job/client/opportunity.

I also like the phrase “R.O.O. — your Return on Organization.” I may have to use that in the future.

What do you think? Is there such as thing as R.O.O.? I’m interested in reading your opinions in the comments.

26 Comments for “ROO: Return on Organization”

  1. posted by Eric on

    Please, no more “checking in” emails and phone calls. Especially true of the thinly veiled “up selling” calls trying to pass themselves off as concern. It insults my intelligence and shows how desperate companies are today.

    ROO is just another marketing phrase to get mid and upper level management to think they need a “professional” organizer to help squeeze more profits out of their company. In my experience the biggest money wasting parts of companies are usually shockingly obvious to everyone by the management, but they will happily continue to screw their employees and customers before looking to the golden cow.

  2. posted by Breakfast for Dinner on

    There is absolutely an ROO. By being more organized, you can take that time you’d spend looking for things or using makeshift workspaces and use it instead to produce more product, communicate with customers, or simply fill orders. For example, my production cycle is very organized, but my packaging area leaves something to be desired. If it were more organized, I wouldn’t spend so much time looking for tissue or labels or tags.

  3. posted by penguinlady on

    I have a different take on ROO – not just physical organization, but data organization, too. In online advertising, I have to keep my data in a strict order or else we would lose a lot of money. An example: a client orders an ad for one day, at a premium. If I don’t run their ad on that day, we have to give them a second day at no cost, effectively cutting the profit of that ad in half and keeping it from being sold to other clients. The fewer mistakes, the higher our profits.

  4. posted by Peaches on

    YES to ROO. For instance, I can spend 10 minutes at the start of my workday getting my “stuff” organized and getting myself organized mentally, and save 30 minutes or more throughout the day. Is it worth it? Yes!

  5. posted by Anissa Stein on

    I love the concept behind ROO. I hope we can continue to get more support for this type of idea as well as ROWE (results only work environment) by Cali and Jody.

  6. posted by Jason on

    I was thinking about this somewhat of an offshoot of ROO and hoarding simultaenously, but, is there any kind of a condition, where being organized actually hinders progress, or is this just a different description on OCD? For example, a person hesitates to start working at their desk because it will temporarily disorganize and clutter their workspace even though by the end of the day it may return to uncluttered? Perhaps being too organized can have a negative return? Just a thought.

  7. posted by Matt on

    At a very simple level, ROO is the time saved by keeping an organised toolbox/desk/kitchen etc.

    The “investment” is the time and effort taken to keep things organised. The “return” is the time and effort saved. If the ratio gets out of whack, there’s something wrong, e.g. spending all you time organising and keeping organised. Cost/benefit.

    Not really a new thing, but trust the marketing worms to try to create it.

  8. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    I definitely think there is something to the concept of ROO. That is, after all, what the purpose of organization is – allow you to do something more quickly, efficiently, or better so you can move on and have more time for the other stuff in your life. You should not organize for organization’s sake because there is no point.

    Disorganization does rob us of time and mental and physical energy, so it definitely does make you lose productivity.

    Overall I like the idea of ROO. However, with all ideas it should not be taken to its extreme to squeeze more productivity out of people for the sake of more profit at the expense of people’s overall workplace comfort. As with all things in life moderation is key.

  9. posted by Christine on

    It’s so funny because I was just talking about this on my blog…I cleaned up my office, and I swear, it made me more productive. Not because of being able to find things better but because all that old energy was gone. I’m never truly disorganized, but I get cluttered from keeping to much for too long. I pared things down to the bare minimum and had clean surfaces, and it allowed stuff to flow better. Sounds hokey, but it’s true!

  10. posted by Ericka on

    Growing up my mom used to always say, “Organization is the key to success.”

    At 22, I find that to be true in all my affairs, but especially at work in the office. Thanks Mom!

  11. posted by Keane on

    @Matt, agree with your formula, and unfortunately anything with an RO_ needs a number attached to it. I say, measure how long it takes you to do certain tasks one day. Then, organize and maximize efficiency. Now measure the time it takes to do those same tasks again. Probably best to measure multiple days and take an average…but either way, in theory if all this organizing is really what it’s hyped up to be (which I believe it is) then you should realize a time savings. That time savings can then be turned into a dollar amount by however much your cost per hour is for yourself or a particular employee.

  12. posted by Ann vonBehrens on

    I totally believe in this ROO. When my office is disorganized, it takes me twice as long to get things done. It is such an effort to mentally think about what is on my desk and what I should attack first.

  13. posted by Beverly D on

    Okay I’m finally going to say it, after thinking it many times. Lots of us who read this blog have blogs of our own. It really bugs me when people use the comments to promote their own blog, as in, “I just blogged on this subject” or some variant of that. OK rant over.

    I agree that getting and staying organized is the key to productivity, and I also agree that there are management types who will take something like ROO beyond extreme. Sometimes a little downtime is what’s needed to be creative.

  14. posted by Shalin on

    The minimalist in me wonders if R.O.O. is necessary as it is just a specific type of R.O.I., but the unclutterer in me says – go for it! ;)

    –S

  15. posted by John Dodds on

    I always wonder why we talk about focussing on out best customers. Yes I know they’re the most profitable – at the moment. But – at the moment, they are also apparently satisfied with our service. The bigger gain arguably lies in devoting the extra 20 minutes to the newer, smaller customers in the hope of building their patronage to a much bigger and more profitable level.

  16. posted by Christine on

    Beverly D, As the person who mentioned my blog in my post, I just wanted to point out that I wasn’t trying to promote it…if I were doing that I would have put a link. Not that I care to promote it anyway…I just found the coincidence interesting. Thanks for making me look like some sort of weirdo.

  17. posted by Christine on

    Oh, and for the record, I kind of like it when people mention their blogs anyway, because sometimes it leads me to fun new people…

  18. posted by Janet on

    It’s never a bad idea to be organized, but I think ROO is over-hyping it a bit. In my opinion, the return is negligible. But organization is still a good thing to have.

  19. posted by Open Loops 3/3/2009: Articles I Think Worth Passing Along | SimpleProductivityBlog.com on

    [...] brought up something I had never considered: Return on Organization. (See “ROO: Return on Organization“). Return on Investment (ROI) is often used to determine if a business should invest in a new [...]

  20. posted by McColley.net » Blog Archive » How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  21. posted by Feed Reader (Beta) » How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  22. posted by How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] - 281th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  23. posted by How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] | Feed Reader (Beta) on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  24. posted by How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] - 291th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  25. posted by The Far Edge » Blog Archive » How Do You Determine Your Return on Organizing? [Ask The Readers] on

    [...] How do you determine when to throw in the hat on a system, scrap it, or start altogether fresh with a new method? What techniques have stood up to your occasional negligence and are still worth the effort? How do you determine if five file cabinets of elaborately cross-indexed files serve you any better than some banker’s boxes thrown in the crawl space? Share your metrics and time tested techniques in the comments below. Ask an Expert: Get Organized to Get More Out of Your Business [via Unclutter] [...]

  26. posted by Angela B. on

    Lots of comments here on ROO related to increased/saved time.
    I think the real return is from the energy you gain when you sit down at an organized desk, open an organized drawer, walk into an organized office. Your productivity and feel good -factor increase substantially!

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