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Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization

Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization

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Value Realization is hot.  You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project. 

Business leaders want to understand the benefits they’ll get from their technology solutions.   They also want to see the value of their investment deliver benefits and deliver real results along the way.   And, of course, they also want to accelerate adoption so that they can speed up their value realization, as well as help avoid “value leakage".”

But how do you actually do Value Realization in the real world? …

This is a guest post by Blessing Sibanyoni.   Blessing delivers advisory, IT architecture, and planning services to Microsoft’s top enterprise customers within the financial services sector.  He has more than 17 years of experience in the IT field.  He is currently an Enterprise Architect and Strategy Advisor on behalf of Microsoft Corporation. 

As an Enterprise Strategy Advisor, Blessing helps organizations achieve challenging business and organizational goals.  He does so by helping them leverage value from their current and future investments, enabled by technology.  Blessing has a solid record of delivering large and complex initiatives within organizations while always doing this in a mutually beneficial way.  You can connect with Blessing Sibanyoni on LinkedIn.

Without further ado, here’s Blessing on Value Realization …

Value in the Eye of the Beholder

Often we grapple with the notion of value.  At first it seems like a very simple thing but when you really take time to consider it, you realize how complicated and multi-dimensional it becomes.  Take a simple example of a person who follows a methodology, based on best practices, who crosses all the t’s and dots the i’s but at the end of the day experiences a failed project or is unable to reach goals that his customers appreciate.  Or perhaps, what about the notion of another who is highly intelligent but working for someone far less “intelligent” from a credentials or even IQ perspective. 

What has happened here?

Why do these paradoxes occur and how do you ensure you are not ending up experiencing the same?

The Notion of Value

I would argue that at the heart of these conundrums is the notion of value.  Value is the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged.  Often it’s not about inputs but rather outcomes and many state that you cannot achieve it without effecting a transformation.  The transformation itself can be virtual or manifested in the real world, but for true value to be derived, transformation in whatever form, must transpire. 

For transformation to transpire a real pain must be felt.

Fiercely Competing Alternatives

After spending almost two decades in public and private enterprises, I’m still intrigued by why organizations decide to spend resources on some things and not others.  Often it’s the thing that seem to make the least sense which these organizations decide to put all their resources into. 

Why?

This curiosity is one that lingers on especially realizing that resources are often limited and logically, one would naturally be better positioned by focusing on projects or initiatives that offer more returns and deserve more attention.  One could take the cynical view that common sense is not so common, or the perspective that organizations are made of people, and people are irrational and fallible beings that bring their own biases into every situation. 

So the notion of value then or the expectation of what will bring value is often subjective and largely determined in the eye of the beholder. 

Quantitative or Qualitative?

I have met many stakeholders who are more interested in the qualitative rather than the quantitative.  Surprisingly, this is true, even in financial services! 

Giving such people a quantitative, seemingly logical justification is often destined to result in failure, and the converse is also true.  So, knowing your stakeholders, what drives and resonates with them is more important that coming up with a definitive, objective, rational and quantitative hypothesis in order to convince them to take some action.

Recently I was fortunate to have worked with a senior executive who was very financially inclined with a major focus on bottom line impact.  This stakeholder did so well in the organization that he was soon promoted.  To my surprise the person who replaced him was much more people oriented and his biggest concerns were around how the changes proposed would impact people within the organization.  The new stakeholder’s view was that people came first and happy employees result in a positive bottom line effect. 

I believe both execs had a great view, even though it seemed that their perspectives were fundamentally different. 

The key for me was to ensure that both qualitative and quantitative arguments were well prepared in advance so that we could tell compelling stories that drove the agenda regardless of the different concerns and viewpoints.

Know Thy Foe

Knowing your industry and thinking ahead about what your stakeholders may not yet know that they need or desire, is also a very valuable thing to do. 

Think about the world of tablet computers that nobody knew they needed just a few years ago, yet these things are now taking the world by storm...

A Few Lessons Learned in the Trenches

At the beginning I spoke about blind implementation of a methodology being a less than great thing, I would argue that the following steps make great sense around realizing that value, in the eye of the beholder:

  1. First, seek to understand (Analyze the situation, the pains, problems being experienced and clearly identify who is being impacted – empathy is an important quality!)
  2. Take time to synthesize, communicate back the pain at its essence and color your findings with different perspectives
  3. Ensure you leave behind each interaction, always having taught something new to your customer - even if it’s a small thing. 
  4. Make your plan of action ensuring you focus on what will be high impact and high value to your stakeholder without losing sight of the bigger picture and remaining realistic  
  5. Take action, early and often whilst being nimble and adaptable as necessary
  6. Always endeavor to be mutualistic.  The power of reciprocity really goes a long way!

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  • How can Value Realization be tied to Technology change. For me, this is the biggest hurdle for Value Realization.

  • @ Dragan -- It's not easy, but it is possible.

    In fact, not only is it possible, as our economy tightens up, it will be required.  More and more business leaders are asking for tangible value from technology, and looking for ways to make smarter investments.

    A good way to start is to figure out who are the stakeholders and what are the benefits they care about?  

    For example, the business leader might care about improving customer satisfaction, or reducing cycle time, or improving throughput.  The key is the KPIs that business is paying attention to and connect to that.

    When it comes to the user base, you can think in terms of helping them do things better, faster, or cheaper.   Better is always a good place to be, but you'll want to connect the user improvements, back to the business impact, and you can usually trace better, faster, cheaper in some way, shape or form.

    A specific tool to add to your toolbelt is the Benefits Dependency Network (BDN).  The BDN helps you trace the business changes and IT changes back to business goals, objectives, and drivers.

    You can think of it as a quick way to "visualize the business case."

    Here is a good getting started guide:

    Surviving Turbulent Times: Prioritizing IT Initiatives Using Business Architecture

  • Interesting read. The link you supplied was not well formed.

    Here is the actual:

    msdn.microsoft.com/.../aa902621.aspx

  • Thanks for the comment Dragan.  For me, the whole IT value realization debate is profound.  According to McKinsey half of IT projects with budgets of over $15 million dollars run 45% over budget, are 7% behind schedule and deliver 56% less functionality than predicted. - Nevertheless, its still important to consider the exponential rates of productivity provided by IT year on year and how they have provided great value, even as IT is being held more accountable.  

  • @Blessing - WOW, those are amazing statistic !!!

  • I really like the concept of being mutualistic. I think this applies to any relationship. In business it is what makes on going business work. Without it there are not lasting business relationships. In terms of the technology working, very valid point. If technology actively helps the business then the relationship inevitably continues. Thanks for a thought provoking article.

  • George, I'm glad you found the article good food for thought.  I hadn't thought of this concept from a building long lasting and fruitful relationships perspective in this instance; but I suppose you're right in hindsight, that when friendships, as an example are mutually beneficial, they tend to be more intrinsically long lasting and heartfelt, be they professional or personal.

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