Optimise For Time To Value
Inevitably when technology/ engineering teams put together plans, they optimise the plan to reduce effort. What they should be doing instead is to optime the plan to reduce time to value.
Let me share 2 anecdotes to illustrate this:
Last month, I was talking to this renewable energy firm which was on the verge of a huge growth curve.
However they were being held back by issues in their manfucturing processes, which resulted in about 15% rejections. They wanted to bring this down to 5% to ensure sustainable growth. In order to achieve this reduction in rejection rate, they wanted to capture information from the manufacturing process.
The manufacturing process consisted of multiple steps and currently the defects are identified and pieces rejected at the very end of the process. But if information about defects could be captured at the end of each step, they could avoid the defective pieces from going through subsequent steps. Essentially they could avoid investing more in an item that is going to be rejected!
During the discussions on the kind of information to be captured, the manufacturing head wanted to capture everything. This would have resulted in taking about 6 months to reduce the rejection rate from 15% to 5%.
I suggested 2 options:
Would you like to continue with the 15% rejection rates for the next 6 months and a sudden reduction to 5% at the end of 6 months, OR
Would you like to reduce the rejection from 15% to 12% in the next month, then to 10% in the second month and then work it down to 5%
Last week I was talking to an App based startup and they were looking at optimizing the app performance. They had identified roughly 10 items to be done on the database and API side and another 10 items on the UI layer.
They had completed the 10 items on the backend, but hadn't done anything on the UI layer. I asked them what the benefits were from the 10 things that was completed. They said, that the 10 things on the UI layers also had to be completed to get the value.
My next question to him, what if you had done one thing on the back end and completed the corresponding item on the UI layer? Wouldn’t you have reaped the benefits of your efforts sooner?
However, when working with products, it is always better to get to value sooner even if the cost is marginally higher!