A hard dollars and sense ROI calculation for IBM’s RDi


According to Wikipedia, the definition of ROI is “the benefit to the investor resulting from an investment of some resource. A high ROI means the investment gains compare favorably to investment cost.  As a performance measure, ROI is used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. In purely economic terms, it is one way of considering profits in relation to capital invested.”   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_on_investment

I was recently asked by a potential client to justify the ROI of not only the investment of training of the tool but of the tool itself.   While I have always known the implied value of using a modern development tool here I decided it was time to actually quantify it. The results are impressive, particularly when the number of developers increase. But even for a shop where a single developer works (and there are many!) it’s hard to dispute the result.

Facts and assumptions for determining ROI

Price of RDi – On the IBM website the price of RDi is listed at $1030. This is the number I will be using for my calculations. Obviously if you have a different currency please convert accordingly. Click HERE.

Hours per week – Having to pick a starting point, I chose 40 hours as a typical work week with 30 hours being allocated to application development. This includes source code maintenance and debugging.

Productivity gain using RDi vs. not using RDi – This is always an interesting discussion because I have heard values from 20 percent to as high as 60 percent. In fact once even 70 percent.   Clearly it is a personal number, for this example I will use the lowest estimate, 20 percent.  I believe a more accurate number is closer to 40 percent (when coupled with education).

Time to realize gain in productivity – Without any type of training at all, it’s been said a developer will become more productive within two months’ (8 weeks) time. This productivity gain will likely be on the lower end of the spectrum.

Remaining time of first year to continue using RDi – With the first 8 weeks removed, this leaves 44 weeks of development.   Accounting for holidays and personal time, round down to 40 weeks.

The numbers at work

Current: 30 hours of application development time.

Increase of 20 percent in productivity: 30 * 1.20 = 36 hours (6 “extra” hours each week).

Salary of $52,000 per year = $52,000 / 52 = $1,000 per week

$1,000 / 40 hours per week = $25 per hour

Effective $ increase of output = $150 per week (6 hours * $25)

Increase of productivity for first year for ONE developer = $6,000 (40 weeks * $150)

Using the same formula above for a salary of $75,000 and the $ increase becomes $8,640.

Raise the salary to $100,000 and the increase becomes $11,520.

Points to reiterate:

This example is for ONE developer.

The most conservative estimate of 20 percent was used and was assumed to be stable the whole year, which is not correct. You should expect this number to increase throughout the year and eventually plateau.

With proper training, the learning curve is much flatter so the actual application development productivity increases much quicker.   Additionally, using a trainer in a hands-on environment increases the confidence of the developer thus increasing the odds RDi will become the permanent development tool of choice.

The investment for RDi is a one-time purchase, with required but much lower software maintenance for the following years.

Final thought:

To be sure, these calculations are my own but I believe representative of a true indicator of ROI.

LISUG kicks off the 2015 – 2016 semester

Long Island Systems User Group Meeting

September 15th, 2015

LISUG kicked off its 31st year with a double feature from speaker Trevor Seeney @tseeney. Trevor hails from New Jersey and we were thrilled to have him kickoff our 2015-2016 semester. The first session which started just after 5PM was titled “Implementing Animations and Transformations on IBMi using CSS/3.”   I thought it was fascinating although the subject matter wasn’t really in my core competency.  At one point Trevor took an animated gif of a shark that was just shaking back and forth and showed us how he added a tropical water scene behind it and made the shark swim around the screen. Finally he demonstrated another technique of animation that you can see here.

The second session was titled “jQuery Mobile and IBM i.”   Again, not in my usual workspace but that didn’t matter. I truly believe that as someone who relies on technology for a living to at least be able to speak to a particular topic.   Not necessarily be an expert, I don’t think there is anyone who can realistically know every possible thing, although I know some people who are pretty close.

Between the two sessions was our monthly Q&A, presented during the dinner hour. What originally started near the birth of LISUG in 1984 has grown into a full presentation.   I’m really proud to participate with this feature along with the others who have given their time to keep this feature going.   Other user groups across the country have contacted me to discuss exactly what this Q&A is. I really hope it catches on because it adds tremendous additional value to the membership. The topics are completely varied but always IT related. It allows the membership to be engaged with the meeting and with each other.

Next month (October 2015) will feature Jesse Gorzinski of IBM Rochester. Jesse is a software engineer for IBM and a team leader of the IBM i Emerging Solutions team. If you’re in the area you must visit, I’m sure you will learn something of great value. You can learn more about Jesse by clicking here.

At the end of the meeting Trevor is presented with a LISUG thank you.
At the end of the meeting Trevor is presented with a LISUG thank you.










Walking through the membership discussing new IBM i topics.
Walking through the membership discussing new IBM i topics.


Kicking the tires with RDi Version 9.5

RDi Version 9.5 is available!

Kicking the tires

Version 9.5 became available for download on Friday, September 18th. I downloaded my copy that same day and began using it immediately.   What follows are some initial observations.count

Prior to the 18th I was excited to read about some of the Version 9.5 announcements mentioned in the RDi Developer Hub.   One in particular really caught my eye, the one that answers a question that I hearing for a long time, that being the inclusion of a 5250 emulator. I should point out that Arcad Software has had a plug-in emulator available for quite some time, available at www.arcadsoftware.com. It seems counterintuitive to want this considering part of the idea is to get away from the green screen.   But the masses have spoken, and having an interactive session right at your fingertips does make sense to me. Whenever you don’t have to navigate away from one application to another you remain more focused and far more likely to remain engaged on the task at hand.  To see this new feature in action, simply right click on any RSE subsystem and click on Host Connection Emulator.   A lightweight 5250 sessions opens quite nicely in another view.

ScreenHunter_677 Sep. 29 21.28









The link to the V9.5 fix list is a bit misleading since it also includes a list of product enhancements requested by the RDi user community (RFE = Request for enhancement).  Each release contains some and this version is no exception. This is typically where I go first when a new version is released.   Some of the delivered RFE’s are very interesting.   The list also contains fixes that have been made since the last release.   Whether you uncover an error or have an idea for a new feature, I highly encourage you to join the community. You can see the list here – http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27038481.  


ScreenHunter_676 Sep. 29 21.25



RFE 10189 – Source Formatting

Ok, now we’re talking.     The indentation view was always nice to use but the problem is it is browse only.   So as helpful as it was, it somewhat fell short in real productivity because we couldn’t take full advantage of the indented format.   With V9.5, IBM has delivered a real productivity booster – adding the ability to format production code in edit mode.   This more than makes current development easier. Given that the biggest cost in software development is maintenance, this feature will provide ROI for years to come.   To use this, select any block of code and right click. A new Format menu option appears (or use short cut Ctrl-Shift-F).   When it is selected, the code immediately and neatly is formatted with proper nesting.   Awesome!

ScreenHunter_678 Sep. 29 21.41


RFE57927 – Enhance Ability to Rearrange Filters in RSE

Anyone who is a serious user quickly accumulates lots of filters. RDi does offer filter pools to help organize filters but they require some up front planning. That’s because once a filter is assigned to a parent filter pool is cannot be reassigned.   Secondarily, I like to arrange the filters in a sequence that make sense. The problem is prior to V9.5 you would have to right click on a filter can select Move up or Move down, one level at a time. Cumbersome at best. No more! Now you can just drag a filter to its new desired location and you are good to go.

RFE 44592 – Ability to auto detect if fixes are available

Unless you are an RDi aficionado you’re probably not checking the RDi Developer Hub on a regular basis scouting for updates. That’s too bad because sometimes an update is available and you might be missing out on either a real purposeful enhancement or a bug fix.   With this RFE, RDi will automatically check for updates and you won’t miss out as features are rolled out.

There are other RFEs included with this version, such as Global Snippets included in the new Push-to-Client feature, defining variables in RPGLE code templates and others.   Stay tuned for more as I have time to continue playing.

Preliminary assessment

With what I used so far while in a production environment, from a productivity standpoint the 5250 emulator is far and away a huge addition to the RSE. This is especially true if you are only using one monitor (which I highly recommend against when using RDi). And some messy production code proved to be no match for the new source formatter.   I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen with only a few hours invested. And using history as a guide, there are probably lots of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Just remember, right click on anything and everything. I am sure you will be as pleased as I am.



Speaking season round 2

With the summer (or at least July and August, believe me, I will hold on to summer until the very last second) in the rear view mirror, I am fully looking to resuming traveling to various groups and conferences to meet my IBM i peers.


First stop is LISUG www.lisug.org.

After that COMMON in Fort Lauderdale www.common.

Next comes COMMON Sweden www.data3.org

And finally COMMON Denmark www.common.dk