Two years ago, I wrote about why you should demand ROI from consulting partners. The gist: Too many clients focused on activities or deliverables, and not enough on results. We emphasized the importance of establishing a robust business case before bringing partners on board. The difference between then and now? Businesses had the luxury of time, a more stable market, and relatively cheaper financial resources.
Today, the need to demonstrate value is more urgent. When you deliver value early and often within your organization, you free up more investment dollars, faster. Value is also a common language across a diverse set of executives influencing a single business decision. In today's environment, achieving that ROI might require a different approach and for many reasons.
The days of creating detailed business cases are dwindling. Every dollar spent needs justification, yet the decision-making landscape has become more complex. Many are moving slower, partly paralyzed by uncertainties brought about by events like stubbornly high inflation, new wars and geopolitical tensions, gridlock politics, rising interest rates, and more. Now, with broader decision-making groups and misaligned priorities, leaders find themselves negotiating among themselves on allocating their limited investment dollars. The challenge is not just about spending, but ensuring it's spent wisely across the organization.
The business world has accelerated. It’s no longer enough to keep pace; you must be ahead. This forces the need for speed – not perfection. Delays, whether in decision-making or in execution, can cost significantly. According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit , a delay in decision-making is directly proportional to lost revenue opportunities. The survey found that "the longer it takes for businesses to make decisions, the more they risk losing revenue. Companies that can make decisions in a day or less are 40% more likely to have grown revenues by 10% or more in the past fiscal year compared to those that took longer."
In our rapidly changing market environment, swift decision-making is not just about agility—it’s also about minimizing debate on the “fungibles” and focusing the discussion on data and KPIs to directly impact the bottom line.
Time is a luxury many businesses can't afford. It's crucial to have a partner who inherently understands not only your needs, goals, and challenges but also the intricate ins and outs of the industry you operate in. They must grasp the entire value chain you serve and be well-versed in the functional and technical interdependencies of the work. No longer can businesses spare resources and time on endless discovery phases and theoretical value discussions. It's about diving deep, right from the start.
Waiting six to twelve months for a partner firm to craft a strategy, especially one rooted in technology, is outdated. In today's dynamic landscape, businesses require a partner with a product mindset, ready to adapt and implement iteratively. This means crafting not just a static plan but building a roadmap that evolves with the market. It's about rolling up their sleeves, leveraging the technology already in place, building processes immediately, and driving toward high-value seamless experiences. This path requires agility and innovation to be fluid. It's equally essential to revisit and recalibrate your roadmap frequently as the market is changing rapidly, and so must our priorities."
The value of a process or formula increases exponentially when it's repeatable. It's about tried and tested methodologies that have stood the test of time and delivered consistent results—especially those that have built solutions that take the best across several industries. Partner with firms that have a track record, those that have done it a thousand times and can showcase tangible outcomes.
Accountability is non-negotiable. If a partner isn't delivering as promised, it's time to reevaluate the partnership. Demand a partnership model where your advisor is willing to put skin in the game and is consistently focused on proving their worth and value-addition. This is a three-step process: Value identification, value creation, and value capture.
The fragmented approach of engaging multiple partners for different phases of a project is not just cumbersome but often counterproductive. Instead, look for a comprehensive partner, one that can navigate the entire lifecycle, from strategy to execution to optimization. It streamlines communication, ensures consistency, and often leads to better outcomes.
While large-scale transformations hold their merit, the landscape is swiftly tilting towards micro-transformations, and the data supports this shift.
West Monroe’s recent research found that 51% of C-suite leaders are more inclined to prioritize digital transformation initiatives that promise quicker, short-term results. In contrast, only 30% of leaders indicate that their organizations are prepared to invest in initiatives with a long-term ROI.
These numbers underscore a clear trend: businesses today are looking for immediate wins and tangible results in the short term, without diminishing need for long-term focus and growth goals. Micro-transformations, with their focused, outcome-driven changes and specific milestones, cater precisely to this need. They represent agility, offering the advantage of quick wins, iterative feedback, and adaptability, ensuring businesses remain nimble and responsive in a dynamic market.
As I reflect on the perspective shared two years ago and the world today, one thing remains constant: the pursuit of value. While the means to achieve it might differ, the end goal hasn't changed. It's about more informed spending, smarter execution, and better partnerships that truly speed up and amplify your capabilities. In these dynamic times, evolving our approach is not just beneficial – it's imperative.