How to enhance a solution’s value

Business solutions are implemented to fulfill a business requirement.

While it is easy to feel happy and fulfilled when you have successfully implemented a solution, what if that solution is not being fully utilized ?

The recommend actions to increase solution value task is used to understand the components that could create differences between the potential and actual value of a solution, and to find ways to align them.

The tasks in the solution evaluation knowledge area are used to measure, analyze, and identify the causes of unacceptable solution performance.

They are used to increase solution value task, analyze the performance assessments, identify alternative methods and recommend actions that will improve the solution’s performance.

These recommendations are used to identify if a solution should be replaced, retired, or enhanced.

They can also be used consider the continuing effects and contributions of the solution to the stakeholders.

So how do you make solution value recommendations ?

There are two elements which are used to make solution value recommendations and they are:

1. Adjust Solution Performance Measures: the performance of a solution might be acceptable by organizational performance standards but they may not support the fulfillment of the business goals and objectives.

So you need to analyze the performance measures to identify and define more appropriate measures that would help in value realization.

2. Recommendations: recommendations usually describe ways to increase solution performance and depending on the reason for the lower than expected performance, it may be reasonable to take no action, adjust factors that are external to the solution, or reset expectations for the solution.

Some common examples of recommendations that might be made to improve the solution’s performance include the following:

Do nothing: this is usually recommended when the value of the change is low in comparison to the effort that is required to make the change, or when the risks of the change are higher than the risks of remaining in the current state.

It may also be impossible to make a change with the available resources available or in the allocated time.

Organizational change: organizational change is the process for managing perceptions about the change in relation to the solution.

Organizational change management refers to the process and set of tools used in managing change at an organizational level.

Achieving organizational changes may involve making changes to their business processes such as the automation of job functions.

This type of change might in turn lead of loss of jobs or changing job descriptions which can cause push back and distrust from the employees.

So you should work with the stakeholders to help develop recommendations that would help alleviate some of their concerns such as changes to the organizational structure, change management workshops and visible support of the initiative from senior management.

What are some of the solution value recommendations that might cause organizational changes ?

Possible recommendations that might cause organizational changes include the following :

1. Process Automation: relatively simple tasks are prime candidates for automation examples include approvals tasks and document transfers. Business processes can also be analyzed for re-engineering opportunities, changes in responsibilities, and outsourcing which might lead to automation and a reduction in the need for man power.

2. Improved Access to information: the solution might provide access to large amounts of information which would be utilized by the stakeholders. This is turn might eliminate the need for printing and storage of paper documents. Which in turn might lead to layoff and “restructuring”.

3. Interface Complexity Reduction : interfaces are needed whenever work is transferred between systems or between people. Reducing the complexity of the interfaces can improve understanding and reduce the amount of work needed to be done.

4. Eliminate Redundancy: the process involved in the change have to be carefully analyzed to identify and eliminate duplicate work. Possible causes of work duplication include inputting the same data in numerous siloed databases. Once the data is entered into a central database which can be accessed by the whole organization, a lot of manual labor will be reduced.

5. Waste reduction: to properly implement a business solution, you would need to analyze the business processes to remove those steps that are not value adding. This in turn might lead to process automation, that might lead to loss of jobs.

6. Identify Additional Capabilities: the solution may offer additional functionalities to the organization beyond those identified in the requirements. In many cases, these functionalities may provide future potential which are nice to have and can solve additional business needs. For example, a software application may have features that the organization anticipates using in the future such as workflow automation and batch processing.

7. Retire the Solution: there may also be a need to consider replacing a solution or the solution elements. This maybe because the solution has reached the end of its life, its services are being in sourced or outsourced, or the solution is not fulfilling the business goals. If the replacement solution has process automation functionalities, this can lead to loss of jobs.

How do you decide between replacing a solution version retiring a solution ?

Some factors that may impact the decision regarding the replacement or retirement of a solution include the following :

i. Ongoing Cost versus Initial Investment: the maintenance costs of the existing solution might increase over time, but replacing the solution with an alternative might be too capital intensive.

ii. Opportunity Cost: the opportunity cost is defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. For example if you chose to implement solution A the opportunity cost would be the other solutions B… Z that you cannot implement.

iii. Necessity: sometimes it becomes necessary to change a solution because the solution has reached the end of its life. Some of the reasons why a solution could reach its end of life include obsolescence and changing market conditions.

iv. Sunk Cost: the sunk cost is described as a cost that a solution has incurred, and which it can no longer recover. For example the cost invested in implementing and maintaining a solution over the course of its life is considered as a sunk cost.

If the stakeholders are heavily invested in the success of the change, it could be difficult for them to objectively assess the rationale for replacement or elimination, as they may feel reluctant to “waste” the effort or money already invested.

As this investment cannot be recovered, it is effectively irrelevant when considering future action.

Decisions should be based on the future investment required and the future benefits that can be gained.