What do you get out of participating in SPI’s big survey, if you are a medium sized software company? At TimeLog, the survey initiated 3 clear improvements.
Let’s be honest. We have not always focused on maturity in TimeLog.
At least not all of us.
First and foremost we are a software company offering a solution for people with responsibility for the company's project finances.
However, time and time again we have seen our customers embark on a larger maturity journey, where they better themselves through a lot of initiatives every day.
A few years ago, this led us to SPI Research’ work to benchmark companies’ maturity levels.
Even though our consultancy is only a small part of what TimeLog does, we have participated in their annual survey the past couple of years.
Naturally, self-insight does not come from a single survey alone.
But we can trace three of the past years’ major changes in TimeLog back to the work we did with the SPI survey.
Here you get 3 truths we learned about our own company through the SPI survey, and the change it led to.
1) We had a fussy vision, mission and strategy
In a software company, question 45 in this year's SPI survey is easily misunderstood or difficult to answer.
Do you have a clear, well-communicated vision, mission and strategy?
When you are in a company thinking in software features, the immediate answers are time tracking, automated invoicing, reporting…
Not before the question was asked again and again, its meaning seeped through. And the answer was not to be found in the product, where our focus normally lies.
The biggest journey for TimeLog the past year was acknowledging the need for a clear vision, mission and strategy.
This acknowledgement has taken us from time tracking to PSA software. Because our mission is more than getting companies to track time.
The acknowledgement has also initiated the reorganisation with a new CEO after 17 years. And to adjust our organisation to manage the large customers, which our new strategy is aiming for.
Today, the strategy, vision and mission are leading our company and are firmly anchored among everybody here within the company.
2) We gave way too many unprofitable offers
Until we looked into our bid-to-win ratio, we offered specifications for almost all requests for integrations and adjustments from our customers.
It may not come as a surprise that our bid-to-win number on integrations was pretty low.
When we took a closer look at the numbers, it turned out that we put a lot of effort and work into writing specifications which never materialised into an actual integration.
Sometimes, we had not communicated the integration costs to the customer. When the costs were presented at a meeting, the integration was often not needed anyway.
Other times, the idea was simply presented quickly at a meeting, and neither we or the customer had built a solid business case for the integration.
After we acknowledged the problem, we managed to raise our bid-to-win ratio on integrations.
We have done this by focusing on a rock-solid business case for the customer on the requested integrations. At the same time, we charge a minimum amount to write a specification, which covers our own costs.
Now our customers know the costs from the beginning - including the full value for their business. Because of this, we almost always end up agreeing on solutions benefiting both parties.
3) We spent too much time re-invoicing
You might say this strange for a software company where a part of the product is automated invoicing.
Nonetheless, we spent too much time on our invoicing just a few years back. We recognised this when we looked into the questions related to rejection and correction of invoices.
Our invoices were technically correct, but as our customers grew, their demands for the breakdown of the invoice changed. And our own invoices were rejected.
Several colleagues knew this, but because the invoicing took place in different parts of the organisation, the actual amount of re-work was not visible to us before we saw the total number in the SPI survey.
Since then, we have added the invoicing schedule in our consultancy and development contracts with our larger customers.
Today, all parties agree on the invoicing format, and we hardly spend any time doing re-invoicing.
Three changes amongst many
The three acknowledgements and changes mentioned above are only a few of an array of initiatives we have started over the past years.
They are a small part of our ongoing development towards developing into a more mature company.
We can trace a lot of the other initiatives back to our work with the maturity survey.
If you are interested in mapping the maturity in your company, you can fill out the 2019 survey yourself.
Then you are well underway to the next maturity level.