Speeding up time to value – the key to thrive in the new normal

By Claudia Pellegrino

The most successful businesses, financially speaking, are those able to quicken time to value by speeding up their innovation and launch processes to respond to changing customer needs. And when we surveyed 500 business leaders, 72 per cent told us that their company’s ability to respond rapidly to change will be the difference between success and failure. Speeding up time to value must be at the top of organisations’ agenda, with leaders actively driving and embracing initiatives.

COVID-19 has intensified the need to adopt such behaviour. We’ve seen incredible examples of delivering valuable innovation at pace in response to the crisis, such as enabling virtual visits for hundreds of patients from loved ones in three weeks. Now, as we move from a crisis footing to take a long-term view of our new reality, organisations need to retain the ability to accelerate time to value so that they can quickly serve customers with valuable offerings before incrementally building on them.

The question is, how? In our experience, organisations need to change how they deliver value, prioritise work and organise projects.

Release value frequently

Organisations today must be able to deliver quick and simple solutions now, deferring complexity until absolutely necessary.

To do so, they should revisit their delivery processes, replacing big bang releases with frequent incremental changes. Delivering small batches generates user feedback earlier, letting you react much sooner to changing desires and habits so you can maximise value for your customers.

To release quickly and address customer needs, organisations should:

  • Split large initiatives, such as a new mobile app to manage restaurant bookings jointly with friends, into independent components, such as the ability to share a list of recommended places.
  • Think ‘if you could only give one thing to the customer, what would that be’ with the view to identifying and releasing the most valuable component / functionality first.
  • Incrementally launch subsequent updates to add value based on customer feedback.

Quickly serving customers with restricted but safe offerings was key during the first wave of the pandemic. When local authorities across the UK, for example, suddenly needed to support thousands of vulnerable people who central government asked to ‘shield’, we partnered with Amazon Web Services to develop and deliver a wellbeing automated call service within a week. The initiative quickly ensured councils could triage the huge volumes of people shielding. And putting it in place was much faster and more cost effective than standing up a fully staffed call centre. Releasing the new service met immediate needs while allowing time to make improvements to remote social care delivery.

Harness data to detect bottlenecks and improve velocity

Organisations are sitting on a wealth of ‘dark data’ – information they gather but don’t necessarily use to its fullest. Dark data can include everything from web logs to visitor tracking data and even email correspondences from past employees.  By looking at the totality of the data they already have and finding ingenious ways to process it, organisations can accelerate innovation.

To uncover the power of their dark data, organisations should:

  • Obtain more data on performance by defining clear and consistent guidelines to measure velocity at a team level, so leaders can determine time to value and use it to inform decision-making and reward activities.
  • Use data on past performance to inform accurate decisions to cut queue and development times.
  • Identify critical products by taking decisions based on value and critical criticality and repurpose teams with strong past performance to deliver on them.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust needed to meet a national target of treating patients within 18 weeks of referral. So, our business information and analytics experts used existing data on patients and how long individual surgeons take to carry out specific procedures to improve the accuracy of scheduling. And we integrated the tool into a new standardised scheduling process across the hospitals. Now, schedulers can find the right patients to fill any unused time in surgery lists, meaning the Trust can run an extra 488 operations a year. And the system is using data from the first wave of COVID-19 to increase capacity to deal with the second wave.

Organise around customer value

Organisations that can mobilise resources to pursue quick time to value are those that organise themselves around value streams – end-to-end series of activities that meet customer goals. They contain the people, the systems, information and material needed to take innovations from concept to value.

Value streams remove the long waiting times associated with resourcing projects, with resources permanently allocated to pursuing a customer goal: handoffs and dependencies are also eliminated.

To embrace this agile structure, organisations should:

  • Identify value streams to understand the types of value they provide to customers.
  • Define the activities within each value stream needed to provide value to customers.
  • Identify the systems that support each value stream and the people needed to build and maintain those systems.
  • Group those people together into teams that contains all the people needed to develop a solution.

For example, global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has embraced organisational agility to better organise around value. We helped them identify and launch cross-functional teams, before aligning business functions, procurement and regulatory processes to them so that all different departments could be involved in the planning and delivery of value without creating bottlenecks. Following the operating model change, teams reported time to value decreasing by 40-60 per cent. The change has also contributed to the company’s success during the pandemic, where revenue has risen by 14 per cent in the first six months of 2020, bucking the trend of the wider pharmaceutical industry, which has suffered from the global slowdown.

Accelerating time to value will unlock unprecedented value

In the new normal, organisations need to be fast. The current uncertainty means they must deliver value as quickly as possible. In our experience, that means adopting an agile operating model by prioritising incremental value releases, adopting a different approach to prioritisation and focussing unwaveringly on customer value. The organisations that get this right stand to unlock unprecedented opportunity.

About the authors

Claudia Pellegrino PA business design expert

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