Smart decision disciplines & reliable processes are not anchors slowing us down but plow the road to speed things up.
The lure of a low sticker price is very enticing. I was once tagged to replace a phone system in a sales office – the telephone being possibly the most important tool for Sales Reps. When I compared systems that seemed to have almost identical operating features I found huge price differences, the top-end sometimes double the lowest cost equivalent.
I was lucky to have a friend with deep expertise in telecommunication equipment to determine the best system for us. He relentlessly analyzed each system’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): how much it would cost to purchase, install, and operate over the life of the system. As I discovered in the case of phone systems, the more expensive products offered huge operating savings. They sought out the lowest long distance rates for every call, were less expensive to maintain and could upgrade to new capabilities as needed. These ongoing savings more than paid for the additional upfront dollar investment.
Businesses trust Total Cost of Ownership yet we still cringe when we hear the words “approval process” and “decision disciplines”. We assume these become a wasteful burden slowing progress and creating bureaucracy. Granted, a bad process with mindless checklists does waste valuable time, talent and money with useless motions. But a truly solid process…
Total Cycle-Time Savings
A truly solid process improves the average cycle time for projects from the beginning of the analysis through implementation. This is in addition to providing higher quality solutions. Just a few of the time-savers are:
- Team make-up: Without the right folks working on proposals, we often endure miscellaneous characters lobbing in new ideas and new expectations (even during the implementation of the project).
- Thorough brainstorming before jumping into analysis: If teams fixate too early on a possible solution, they may have to go all the way back and start over if that initial idea or meager handful of ideas don’t pencil out.
- Clear leadership expectations: Without a clear understanding of what a leader demands for proposals, I guarantee teams are wasting time filling presentations with all manner of non-essential information and praying they’ve covered all the bases.
- Consistent formats for proposals: We save the leader time and frustration if the decision-critical information is always front & center so they don’t have to hunt around and piece it together (or demand teams come back again once they have filled in the gaps).
- Follow-up at the end of the project is much, much quicker and easier if a good tracking plan is laid out during the evaluation.
Averaging all the projects together, leaders find both higher quality results and faster cycle times when they hold their teams to practicing the right disciplines. There will always be a sense of urgency or a certainly the right answer is already obvious tempting us to skip these steps. But for the business that hold fast to proven disciplines, the time spent up front more than pays for itself.