From one developer to another.
Value added. It’s a term we’ve all heard before and are familiar with in the business world. The concept is easy enough to understand; but is it easy enough to implement day-to-day as individuals? Before we jump into the topic points on how, I would first like to start with why. Why we as individuals should be thinking: “How can I add value on a daily basis?”
Some of us may be thinking, “I don’t interact with clients, so adding value is not a major concern of mine. I’ll leave this to the sales reps and marketing team.”
Well, let me clear the air. Regardless of whether any of us knows it every day we are adding value to, or subtracting value from, our clients and our organizations. The concept of value isn’t restricted to directly engaging with clients. But it’s important to realize that what we do on our side of the fence – intracompany – indirectly affects our clients and, thus, impacts the value they receive.
The point is that the more value we can provide to our organizations and their internal processes, the more powerful the impact we have on the client-facing side of the business. Client businesses want to work with the best and are willing to pay a premium for the opportunity, but only if they can confidently trust that those with whom they do business are, in fact, the “best.”
For instance, assume our sales team secures a client based on the fact that the services we provide are of the highest quality, and that the client can always rely on us to deliver. But then, the delivery/production side of our organization fails to deliver as promised. Client trust is damaged, and the undesirable reputation for not being the “best” in the industry is gained, leading others to be cautious when considering whether to do business with us.
Now that we have established clearly why adding value is so crucial and impacts every aspect of business, let’s dive into some more specific points on how we can keep this idea front and center daily.
How to Add Value
Are You Causing Effort or Reducing Effort?
Individual contributions are like a process in a machine. Are your contributions causing that machine to work harder, thereby increasing the required effort? Or are you a well-oiled, finely tuned, and highly functioning part of that machine who allows it to operate at maximum efficiency?
One of the most impactful ways to add value is very much through performance of your day-to-day activities and job duties. The very least you should be doing is performing your role to the precise level expected of you. After perfecting your workstyle within the current project process, you should explore ways to increase your productivity or discover efficiencies that benefit everyone inside that framework.
Going the extra mile during a project life cycle really goes a long way, especially if you feel that it will help increase productivity by saving others time. What’s more, if you are not the project owner then bring these ideas (combined with a working demonstration) to the person managing the project. Gain their approval before implementing a change that could possibly have negative consequences on others.
The biggest takeaway here is to be sure that you’re staying accountable and on top of what is required of you. You don’t want to be the one causing your team members increased work. There is great value in creating no extra work – and even more value – by being the one to innovate a new process that reduces effort for all involved. Your project team members will want to work with you, and you will see a direct increase in the value your organization is providing to the client, because the client will want you and your team working on their project.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!) that this principle positively affects the budget in two ways: first, by decreasing the effort required to perform assigned tasks, you reduce the cost to deliver your organization’s services. Second, by improving client satisfaction, you generate additional demand for your services, which often results in the ability to charge a premium. Either way, this is a huge win to both your client and your organization. The theory on this topic can take up an entirely new article so let’s just put a pin on the money aspect of this and move on.
Working Longer Does Not Mean Working Harder
The truth will set you free, with respect to your time management and time reporting. “A day’s work for a day’s pay,” the saying goes. Be honest about your effort and truthful when you record it. If you do these things, you can at least show where your time is going – even if you aren’t yet aware of places you can increase productivity and add more value to the organization.
If you find yourself working longer hours but then look back to see little accomplished for the time and effort you invested, then you’re more than likely subtracting value from the client and your organization. I say “more than likely” only because there may be times when you’re in over your head and you just need to learn and figure something out, returning later on down the road to contribute additional value. I like to think of it as a value investment, but you can still see that you are taking too long at this and you should really reach out for help.
Let’s shift our focus on this topic and consider things from the point of view that we’re working longer and actually yielding less-than-favorable results. That’s where the topic title comes into perspective: just because we are putting in more hours doesn’t mean we’re providing greater value. In fact, our inability to work smartly is directly costing the client and our organization more money – and not providing more work product or expected dividends from our investment.
As stated above, the more honest you can be with yourself and your employer, the more likely you will recognize the additional value you’re delivering. Eliminate the time-wasting activities that generate no value for your client or your organization. And under no circumstances should you fabricate records by inflating time reported to make it look like a task took longer than it did. At the very least, it’s unethical. But many of us call it fraud!
Work hard at working appropriately. It is okay – even preferred – to work fewer hours and actually accomplish assigned tasks, than to just fill time. I love to think that there is “always” something to do, so if you find yourself working with greater efficiency, don’t hesitate to reach out to your project manager to get assigned more work. That will also help in scoping efforts as you and they realize you may be over-scoping some aspects of the project, which will help the project finish under budget and ahead of schedule – something all parties strive for. It’s a big win for everyone involved and will generate additional business in the future with possibly bigger budgets.
A Voiceless Voice Can’t Be Heard
If you see that something is going wrong or negatively affecting your organization or your client, do not be afraid to stand up and challenge that issue. Don’t allow others or a process to keep going day by day negatively impacting business operations. Here at ITX, we call it “being cause in the matter.”
Bad processes and unintentional mistakes happen from time to time, and obviously they are devaluing topic points. However, recognizing these issues and doing nothing about them means that you are now complicit in subtracting value. If you see an opportunity to improve, fix, or call attention to an area that is just plain not working, it is your obligation to speak up. It cannot get resolved if it is not recognized as a problem.
I understand that you may also be too shy or think it is not your place. But please keep in mind that we all have a voice and should be able to speak to an issue we perceive. If you are too shy to present your concern to a larger audience, then get with your project manager in a one-on-one setting to privately raise the issue. You may learn “why” such a process is in place, perhaps due to limitations you were unaware of. More likely, your diligence will bring attention to an issue your manager was unaware of and can now formulate a plan of action to correct it. This will directly benefit you, your manager, your organization, and of course your client. The amount of value you provided by raising the issue becomes tremendous in everyone’s eyes. At the very least, your project manager will be more than accepting that you are conscientious of issues or problems and will appreciate that you have every party’s best interests at heart.
There are many other topics and ways to identify areas where you can add value to your organization. The more value you can provide internally, the more value will be recognized by your clients and, in return, add value to them and their consumer base. I’ve identified just a few of those topics. I want to challenge each and every one reading this not to be “okay” with just clocking in and clocking out every day, but to be proactively thinking, “How did I add value today?”