How do you define value? This might be one of the more difficult questions when it comes to someone’s work. Because just as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is value. It’s whatever the receiver is attributing to it, at that time, with the current understanding and experience of the product or service.
At SIG, I’ve experienced the struggle many have with defining value. Of course, it’s easy to come up with the generic terms that apply to any situation, like “more control,” “Lower Cost of Ownership,” etc. But to make this specific in such a way that it’s crystal clear why your bill should be the first to be paid? That requires a bit more thought.
In this blog series, I’m shedding light on the Five Principles we adhere to as a company to guarantee high-quality output – as well as the lessons we’ve learned putting each of them into practice. Today, I’d like to share three learning points that have come up for us in applying quality Principle #1: My Work is Evidently Valuable, in both sales and delivery engagements.
Defining value based on quality and quantity
Qualitative statements of value only work on who we call “believers.” Those are the people who have the same mental model as you do regarding the impact of your services. Qualitative value statements don’t provide a sound business case, however; they play to the feelings and beliefs of what is right/correct/good. For example, I feel it’s good to clean my windowsills often, and I believe it reduces my cost of having the painter over every three years to brush up on the paintwork. People who believe as I do (good maintenance reduces rework) might do the same, but others may need you to provide the supporting data to make the case. A business case exists for a reason, and we should help our clients and contacts build it both qualitatively and quantitatively when it comes to our products and services.
Defining value based on organizational and personal goals
In every situation, your client’s company goals will come into play, as will the goals of the people directly involved in the project. These are often aligned, but not always, and they normally differ in terms of operational level, timeline, etc. Relate the value you create to the goals the organization is trying to achieve. Formal publications, like press releases and annual reports, often contain key company objectives and risks that need mitigation. These will help you understand what the vital points are for the organization; you’ll then be able to formulate the value you create precisely, concretely and in a way that best resonates with your audience.
Defining value based on time
As the believers amongst us know, not all benefits are directly measurable. Some changes and value are only visible in time. This can be a hard sell. However, transparency in timelines helps to identify which benefits can be expected in which timeframe. It’s not a problem to deliver value in the long run; but this needs to be both (1) clear from the start and (2) accompanied by direct value in the short term.
Taking these three points into account in our work helps us to be as clear and transparent as we can with our clients. I’ve seen people get frustrated when they get the “What’s the business case for your service?” question. A business case isn’t just a fancy term, a distraction, or something to hide behind from a buyer’s perspective. It’s an honest call for help from your contact in getting you the platform you need to make clear why your product and service shouldn’t be passed up. Take that extended hand and help your client help you in turn.
Read part 1 in this series: Living By the Code: 5 Guiding Principles for Producing Quality Work
Read part 3 in this series: Quality Principle #2: My Message is Easily Transferable
Read part 4 in this series: Quality Principle #3: My Findings Are Fact-Based
Read part 5 in this series: Quality Principle #4: My Solution is Tailored
Read part 6 in this series: Quality Principle #5: My Recommendations are Actionable