I’m sitting on a plane reviewing two projects, one looking at a new product launch and the other rolling out a new service delivery model. In both cases, implementation must be done sooner rather than later. Thinking about recent articles across a variety of industries, from fast food to financial services and even manufacturing, it seems that anything worthwhile has a component of speed attached to its success. Yes, there are other components, but apparently, speed is a critical one in many business situations.

Speed is everywhere: Speed to market, speed of delivery, speed of answer, speed of payment. When will the new processes be in place and how quickly can you get that system change installed so the agents can use it?

In business, quick action plays the dominant variable in many situations, and a cumbersome, bureaucratic approval or decision-making process can often thwart speed. It delays implementation and reduces momentum, and sometimes that means interest or, more importantly, funding. Yet, any experience dealing with change in the financial services industry teaches that speed is a critical component in all successful implementations. Speed in processing is equally important—minimizing the time between a customer request or transaction and the company’s delivery of service means a better, cheaper process and a happier customer.

I just completed a new application for a banking relationship with my individual health plan. I got an approved application with a new account number as soon as I logged back onto my e-mail—I was shocked. That’s a simple example, but their speed in approval and assigning an account number was almost instant. I’m impressed.

What stands in the way of speed? A lot of things can prevent speed of implementation. For example, does your review process require multiple sign-offs and multiple levels of approval before you can get started? To speed things up, are your funding and resource levels roughed out in advance so operations people can move from evaluation and redesign to execution without a hitch?

“How fast can we move once we have a plan?” should be one of the first questions answered by any implementation team. While you are racing off to your next business meeting, trying to catch that last commuter train, or speeding to get to your son’s Little League game, think about how you can build speed of delivery into your next project.

Speed can be the differentiator between success and failure. Make sure your current projects and implementations are positioned for speed as well as quality, cost, and functionality. It will make a big difference where it counts—market share and customer satisfaction.

Dennis Sullivan is chairman and CEO at The Nolan Company, a management consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry.

 Readers are encouraged to respond to Dennis at dennis_sullivan@renolan.com, or using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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