As businesses look for ways to cut costs while maintaining or improving profitability, I'm hearing more and more about “identifying Value” in our work processes and in our businesses overall. Identifying “Value” in its most basic form means identifying those services you perform, or those production steps that occur, that create a benefit to your customers.
As a means of cost-cutting, most businesses look for ways to minimize non-value-added steps. As managers, we try to cut any step that uses time, money, or materials, but results in no added benefit to the customer. An example of this is minimizing unnecessary movement on an assembly line. By rearranging workstations so all necessary tools and component parts are within easy reach, each worker spends less time in her day “traveling” and more time producing widgets – and thereby increasing each worker’s production rate. This gets products to the customers quicker – a benefit.
This same value-added monitoring is possible for services also. However, it’s less visible. When most of us manufacture “intangible” products or services, those we can't easily see, feel, or touch, we have a tendency to be less diligent in minimizing non-value added steps. Likewise, when we purchase services, we don't often confirm we received the full value of what we sought. As long as the service addresses the areas we've outlined in our initial request for services, we seem to be satisfied.
For example, I'm frequently asked to design training programs to address “problem behaviors” or “missing skills”. These requests are usually a result of problems the client is experiencing with personnel, customer complaints, lost business, or blatant inefficiencies. So, they look to my services to help “fix” the problems. Too often, as long as I simply address the problem behaviors in a training program, and the training program evaluations are positive, I fear, clients are satisfied with my services. But did they really realize the “value” they sought?
The value realized from any service is determined by identifying what behaviors, time, costs, or processes have been impacted – and by how much – because of the service rendered. Simply stating “morale seems to have improved” or “things are working better” is not adequate. Measure the current situation against the prior state. (The prior state is the reason you contracted for the service in the first place!) The more specific in measuring the service value you receive, the more likely you are to continue to monitor the improvements and build upon them. (This is where the old adage “You are what you measure” comes in!)
Ways to confirm value for training services may be to track decreases in employee conflicts and negative personnel actions after Coaching & Feedback training; to track the number of customer complaints and changes in customer retention after Customer Relationship Management training; to determine Savings in Time & Materials Costs after Project Planning training; or to monitor improvements in employee suggestions/participation after Engagement training. This will provide you with specific numbers or percentages of changes in conflicts, customer complaints, processing times, implementation schedules, and participation. They're measurable. They're “trackable”.
By regularly confirming values desired and received, you’ll require more specific outcomes of your service providers. You'll also be better positioned to focus your vendors in targeting their products or services to best meet your needs.
Get the service value you deserve.
Copyright MMI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!