Have any of you ever gone on a diet? Or should I say, rather, have any of you NOT tried a diet? Let's assume most have… When you started said diet what was your goal? Was it to obtain the required food for the diet? Read the corresponding guide book? Was it to lose a pound on the first day? Were you looking to "eventually" lose that extra 15 pounds? If diet industry slogans are any clue, you did not set out to just "start" the diet....you were seeking a specific value within a certain timeframe (likely ASAP):
This trend is not unique to the weight loss industry. Financial planning firms typically outline a clear ramp and timeline of initial investments to target returns. VC firms define clear expectations and timelines to obtain their exit value before funding a startup. When putting down money to build a new property, the builder provides a timeline for completion and the realty expert provides a completed property value.
Why should the implementation of software be any different? More often than not, success of implementation is measured on the time to "go live", vendor project profit margins, and the completion of consulting deliverables within that timeframe. To quote a former colleague of mine: "So what, who cares?" This is comparable to saying that reading a book on weight-loss in a reasonable timeframe provides tremendous value and returns. Not true if you put down the book and eat a pack of Twinkies! There is very little value in simply activating a system without targeted ROI plans, and there is very little value in planning to diet without a long-term strategy for success. So how do we move from "time to go live" to "time to value"?
First, we need to understand how business value is defined. What are the achievable targets expected from the software? Common value focal points include:
Next, outline how value is measured. What are the baseline metrics? Who owns the measurement? Make sure you understand industry trends for these types of targets as well as any relevant historical measurements. Based on this research, a consultant should discuss and recommend timelines to value based on what is expeditious yet attainable. Finally, establish milestones to ensure the path to value is not veered from along the way. What is needed to deliver, communicate, or change to drive to value quickly? What can the consultant do to ensure short-term milestones are met? For the implementation consultant this includes ensuring success criteria and actions are defined for the pre- and post-launch period (communications, day one metrics, week one metrics, month one targets, etc.). If an account is handed to an account management team post-launch but prior to value realization, it is imperative to ensure a detailed handoff takes place related to the value trajectory.
The payoff for shifting focus away from "Time to Go Live" towards "Time to Value" can be significant. In his book, Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition is Reshaping Global Markets, George Stalk of the Boston Consulting Group reports that companies demonstrating a “2X time advantage” over competitors have a “3X profit advantage” in performance. Now, if only we could find a way to lose 3 times as much weight by dieting twice as fast....
Kara Blumberg is the VP of Professional Services at HireVue. With over 20 years of leadership experience across multiple talent-focused specialties, she designs and develops consulting delivery teams that drive incredible customer experiences. Find her on LinkedIn. This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.