The Highly Prized & Ever Elusive “Speed-to-Value”

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Benito Santoro

Data Analytics Strategy Lead

We’ve all heard someone say “show value early and often” or “find quick wins”, but while seeking speed-to-value is a widely accepted principle, it is often an elusive goal. Missing the mark on this critical objective can have disastrous effects on an analytics program, team chemistry, individuals, and their careers. Technology teams must continuously develop innovative products aligned to business objectives and deliver them quickly to stakeholders.

Achieving speed-to-value offers significant long-term benefits, and it is essential to build credibility between the program and its customers, agents, and sponsors. In a healthy program, these benefits are constantly leveraged to secure further investment in capabilities and initiatives.

If trust is lost due to the lack of innovation or speed of delivery, it will take significant time and effort to gain it back. If we let down leadership, regaining executive support will be challenging. If we disappoint stakeholders or our colleagues, attaining buy-in and restoring morale will be daunting. There is power in progress. To maintain confidence, we need small wins early to demonstrate to everyone involved that “it’s” working.

Let’s draw a parallel to car racing. Pit crews are quintessential masters of speed-to-value. They execute and deliver in seconds. They do not wait for the car to pit to understand needs or to identify and assign key roles and processes. They do it by being prepared to execute. The pit crew knows exactly what needs to be done, who is necessary to do it, and how to do it successfully.

For any finely tuned team, just like a pit crew, practice makes progress and progress builds confidence. This progress and confidence elevate teams to a higher plane of thought and action — the “flow state” — where fear-based decisions naturally give way to opportunity-based actions, where true value is delivered to the business; not perfectly but in perfect harmony.

Keys for Successful “Speed-to-Value”

Practice makes progress, and progress is powerful. Businesses don’t have the benefit of the same level of “practice” a pit crew may have since businesses are ever changing and innovating often at breakneck speeds, but businesses can employ strategies to allow teams the opportunity to improve while making progress.

  • Focus on Business Outcomes: This isn’t simply gathering requirements. It is essential to understand how new capabilities will be integrated into business processes and how to support critical input variables for decision-making. Understanding business needs includes determining the “definition of success”. It takes business-minded data-savvy professionals to bridge the gap between defining success and knowing what success will look like once achieved.
  • Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP): This is typically a smaller business-driven use case that offers great value. Ideally, an MVP allows the team to define and refine the key objectives to success, which include business needs, key roles, data availability, data mappings, and processes.
  • Identify Key Roles: This includes defining responsibilities, setting realistic expectations across the plan, being honest about gaps, and knowing how to fill or mitigate them.
  • Confirm Data Availability: Identify the critical data in scope and ensure it is procured and accessible when needed.
  • Define and Map Critical Data: Defining and mapping critical data mitigates many risks. It allows scope to be defined to the smallest deliverable unit, and it aligns the thinking of business and IT. This step allows project management to build a comprehensive mechanism to avoid overloading sprints and to track progress.
  • Establish Minimal Viable Processes: The lighter the process the better. This is all about identifying basic processes, capturing preferred methodology, ownership and decision rights. Basic processes include agile development, testing and acceptance, and deployment.
  • Learn through Iteration: Use cases should be broken down into units that are large enough to justify organizing effort but small enough that lessons can be learned and adopted for the next iteration.

Open Invitation for Innovation

Nousot is a full-service data and advanced analytics firm delivering enterprise-class, full-lifecycle solutions from data strategy through build, enablement, and run. We provide solutions across the following:

  • Strategy
    Aligning the data and analytics roadmap to business needs.
  • Solution Architecture
    Delivering a complete cloud stack with end-to-end capabilities.
  • Data/Visualization Engineering
    Providing support for petabyte-size data integration and reporting.
  • Data Management
    Driving governance, traceability, and quality processes.
  • Advanced Analytics
    Leveraging machine learning, AI, and world-class statisticians.
  • Self-Service Analytics
    Enabling business users to deploy data solutions.

Nousot achieves speed-to-value not by simply stating it as a goal but by defining a straightforward approach to achieving it. We invite you to discuss your program plans before encountering the obstacles many find on their analytics journey. Please reach out to us at [email protected].