Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Enabling the Decision to Invest in a Solution

I will bet there is something bugging you about how project execution is going in your group; in fact it's probably been an issue for quite a while now. A solution has not been implemented, although you would welcome the day the problem was gone. There's been plenty of candid discussion about this issue - in meetings, over lunch, at happy hour and quick hallway chats.

At what point does an organization decide that the time is right to solve a systemic issue with new product execution? This will only occur at the point where the perception of the benefit in making a change is considerably greater than keeping things as they are. Perception of cost vs. benefit is the vital decision factor required to tip the scale in favor of investing in a solution. This is true for any product development barrier - tools, flows, organizational structure, processes or procedures.

Building momentum towards a decision to take substantial action against an ongoing barrier is as simple as turning the problem into one of financial impact. If the cost of ignoring a known product development obstacle is presented in terms of lost revenue opportunity, a stronger case for action will result. Link the need for eliminating a known execution difficulty to the impact on money (sooner or more) and gain the support required for a decision to invest in a solution.

A justification built around touchy feely advantages such as efficiency or productivity is weak, and reaching a decision to proceed will be like pushing a rope. The reality is that problems in need of solutions can drag on for years without a well-constructed financial benefit rationale. If there is an obstacle that has been a long-term issue, consider that the case for fixing it may not have been presented with the proper business impact.

How long can problem discussions continue before a decision to take action towards a solution becomes obvious? Without financial impact as motivation, it could be forever. If a monetary case isn't built in support of action for resolving a new product delivery concern, then the perception that it's not a bona fide business problem will continue. The solution, no matter how sound, will likely remain buried for a long time.

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