If you are developing a new product or service creating value should be at the forefront of your mind, not an afterthought or lost in the noise. Constantly ask questions about what value you are creating and the beneficiary, and ring the alarm bells if value cannot be easily specified or articulated.
There has been widespread coverage in the press over the past couple of years about large IT projects that have cost millions yet have failed to deliver anything. Many projects are written off, while c-level heads roll. The book of blame is passed from poor requirements, to poor systems, to poor platforms, to poor delivery methods, to poor vendors, to poor management, to poor strategy.
While all this is happening and procurement processes are tightening to avoid repeating costly mistakes I still see projects that make it off the ground, with funding and approval yet nowhere in the business case has value been specified. Or maybe value was in the beginning but as the project has evolved the team has lost sight of what value means and who will benefit from the value created. Another common problem is specifying value for the business but failing to address the value proposition for customers of the business. Having a digital or mobile strategy just because the competition has one will not win the hearts and minds of customers, nor will it win you any favours with the shareholders when you have to explain that you are writing off a £5-10m IT project spend because it failed to deliver any meaningful results.
If you are developing a new product or new system continually ask ‘what is the value proposition?’ and ‘who will gain from it?’ As well as delivering value to the business, if any part of the system is customer facing then there must be some value delivered to the customer in order for the business to reap the rewards. ‘Value proposition’ can sound all a bit ‘consulting-speak’ but restated in simple terms just ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ with your business and/or customer hat on?’ This simple but effective check can be asked at a macro or strategic level and can equally if not more effective of all the subsequent strata of the project including the lowest level of detailed requirements. If you can’t articulate a true tangible, measurable value for a specific beneficiary at any/all levels of the project then it’s time to ring the alarms bells and stop what you are doing. To continue is to risk waste of time, effort and money. If you don’t know the answer, it is fine to proceed and base your efforts on assumptions, as long a) the assumptions are flagged as such and that you make pains to test those assumptions at the earliest opportunity; and b) that in your assumption you identify both the value proposition and the beneficiary.