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Why “Cost of Delay”?

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Don Reinerstern in his book “The Principles of Product Development Flow” writes about the importance of having an economic view when making decisions. This is because we are usually developing products to improve our financial standing (and even if it is not for “making money” but rather for nobler reasons, still there is the economic view).

Don uses Cost of Delay (COD) to represent the economic impact of any part of the product (a story, a feature, a defect etc.) I have been familiar with this term for some time but since we were introduced I was wondering why use this “Cost of Delay” term and not something like “Value”. It seemed to me that COD was a little philosophical.

Today I finally got it. I was running and it was very cold and to keep me warm I tried to use every muscle I have, including the brain, so realized that the reason for using the term “Cost of Delay” is that this cost is relative to a specific moment in time, specifically NOW. Using the word “delay” tells us that the issue is whether to do something now or LATER. If I used something like “Value” it would sound more absolute and universal, while the Cost of Delay is more a thing of here and now.

All this came to mind as I am reading this book again (I read it some years back). It is not an easy read but very thorough – I hope to get some more insights as I progress with it.

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