Average vs. Individual Speed

If one of your goals is to increase speed, it's important to remember that your goal is probably really to increase profit. This is important because in my experience, discussions about speed can easily slide into a focus on an individual's speed rather than on increasing speed overall.

This is a very fine point—and sometimes a difficult one to get across. Yes, the individual's experience is important, and yes, every individual's speed contributes to the whole. But, in terms of potential to increase profit, not every individual is created equal. Thus, when we're looking at increasing revenue overall—and we believe that increased speed is one part of that solution—it follows that we must look at speed overall in order to see the highest gains.

Here's an example: Through my discovery process, I discovered that one of my clients had a very high employee turnover rate. In fact, it is so high that at any given point, over half of the workforce has been employed less than three months. This was a significant subset of our target audience, and it had several implications:

  1. The system had to be completely and immediately intuitive in order to reduce or virtually eliminate training costs.
  2. The strategies we folded in to achieve speed gains had to primarily focused on this group, with more experienced employees coming second.
  3. Sometimes, we didn't apply strategies that would have made highly tenured employees faster when they would have slowed the inexperienced group down.

Since our ultimate goal was to increase revenue overall, we focused on the sub-group that would do the most to increase our speed on average (or, in other words, the group that would otherwise have caused the biggest hit to our average).

Tenure is just one attribute we can look at. Another segment designers should seriously consider is the sub-group consisting of the highest volume and/or highest revenue-producing employees and locations. Locations that are already turning a higher-than-average profit can often have the greatest impact on the average, and you'll want to make sure that at the very least, you aren't doing anything that will negatively affect their success. And, if done right, a good POS design can increase profits overall, with the highest percentage increases coming from those locations that are already the highest producers.

Similarly, the highest volume locations can sometimes provide the best opportunity for additional sales—especially if there's reason to believe that slow transactions (i.e., longer lines) lead potential customers to seek for a competitor that might seem to be offering faster service. These are just some examples of sub-groups that designers might consider. The key is (a) to identify those segments with the greatest potential for increasing profit, and (b) to prioritize the design such that it caters to these groups in appropriate ways.