Do You Understand Time to Value?

The definition of value is subjective. Measuring expenditures is objective. If you ask someone in your company or team to define value, what do you think they will say? Will they discuss financials? Will they discuss projects, software releases or widgets created? Do you or your team define value to a customer by counting things?

As a quick exercise, define the value of your pants; not in terms of money, but in terms of value to you. Simply put, can you measure the value of your pants? Simpler yet, define the word itself — value. Like choosing wine, art and music, defining value is subjective to whomever is shopping.

In business, we use cost accounting to count things. Ironically, cost accounting does not define value for a customer, nor does it delight a customer. It simply counts things.

When we use cost accounting to measure, we’re being fiscally responsible. However, the focus on the cost of things leads companies, teams and individuals to perceive that cost of acquisition, cost of ownership and return on investment math defines value. While the company that sold you pants can measure their investment throughout the entire supply chain down to the point of sale, that math doesn’t define how you value pants, their brand or company. Were you able to measure the value of your pants? What would make you purchase a second pair of those pants?

Taking software projects and breaking them down into people, time and cost helps us count things. In order to deliver product and service solutions to customers, we count things. Does that seem weird? Does it seem weird we can count all of the things in a project, feel good about ourselves, and still have no idea what the customer actually values?

Does knowing the cost of all the things in a software delivery chain mean we know when we’ve provided value to the customer? Unfortunately, it does not. It only suggests we know how to count.

If we can objectively count money, but we cannot easily measure a customer’s perceived value of things, as business and technology leaders and team members, how do we increase the probability of making first-time and recurring sales? Most of us are in business to make a living. Making a living requires money, which requires sales. If we don’t know what a customer values, how do we make sales?

“What!?” you say to me. “I’m not a sales, advertising or marketing person. That’s their job to do that rubbish. I just deliver stuff.” I’m not a marketing, advertising or sales expert either. However, for those who are, as a technology leader I can help them do their jobs better by providing shorter time to revenue windows which helps them discover shorter time to value windows for both the company and the customer.

In other words, marketing, advertising and sales people need options every moment of every day to adapt to varying customer scenarios, gain market-share, crush competitors and make money to pay our salaries and business expenses. And they need them now, not when the business and/or technical teams can get to it.

What is the time between having an idea and delivering the idea in order to delight a customer and generate revenue?

In your company, is the flow of a product solution from beginning to end smooth like fresh ice on a hockey rink and as fast as a hockey puck? Or is it more comparable to the starts and stops of a muddy, variably pothole laden road? Figuring out time to revenue and time to value factors depends on understanding how product solutions flow through your company.

If you build software solutions and/or run software operations for a living, what do you think about the following questions?

  • Why are there so many steps to get from idea on a napkin to implementation?
  • Why are there so many tools in the delivery chain?
  • Why does it take so long to find out if we broke something that worked yesterday?
  • Why can’t we know whether the product meets company standards all of the time?
  • Why do we test so late in the process potentially delaying our project?
  • Why can’t we know if we’re compliant with industry regulations every time we build software, every day of every week instead of during third-party audits performed quarterly and annually in arrears?
  • Why can’t we deliver small portions of the larger solution that can be marketed, advertised and sold along the way instead of waiting for everything to be finished before we can even begin advertising, selling and making money?
  • Why can’t we find a way to deliver at the highest quality and highest velocities at the same time? Why are they treated as mutually exclusive?
  • Is information security and performance really something I have to kick down the road until later?
  • Why does it seem like our projects are black boxes of magic until the very end?

Consider this: Sales people are expected to provide verifiable value that is daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually measured in qualified leads, follow-ups, sales and revenue with non-negotiable baseline margins, but people who build software products take as long as they take and spend as much as they spend?

If you're responsible for delivering solutions that enable customer delight resulting from sales, marketing and advertising successes, the distance between having an idea and realizing the ability to make money with said idea is called -- time to revenue. 

The distance between having a product and knowing what product the customer actually wants to buy is called -- time to value.

Question: Organizationally and operationally, what do you need to change in order to realize shorter and more frequent time to value discoveries?

If you’d like help figuring out how to compress the time it takes to get from an idea to making money while also including security, performance, quality and reliability from the beginning (instead of later), we’d like to help. Or if you’d like help determining how to more quickly and frequently discover, re-discover and provide recurring value for your customers, the teams at Trility Consulting know how to help you get from where you are to where you’d like to go.

We evaluate your business goals and current state of operations. Then we work with you to implement solutions which help you get there. We use 100% software-defined, continuous delivery behaviors including continuous test-driven development, continuous inspection, continuous compliance, continuous vulnerability assessments, continuous penetration testing, software defined infrastructure, serverless architectures, secure enterprise-class cloud ecosystems and more. This is simply what we do and how we live even for our own projects — and we’ve been doing it for quite awhile.

We’ll help you discover what time to value looks like in your team and operation. And your customers will thank you for it.