May 02, 2023
4 minute read

It’s time to focus on time-to-value.

Written by Michael Freeman

If you’re like most finance professionals right now, you’re keeping a close eye on spending. But at the same time, you’re aware of research that shows companies that invest in technology to improve efficiency and productivity are more likely to survive economic downturns. You’re also busy adjusting budgets and forecasts in response to ever-changing market conditions.

The result can feel like a catch-22: You need to upgrade your processes and the way you work to be more agile — to free up resources and to save time — but you don’t have the time or bandwidth to do it. So, if you purchase new software, it has to quickly prove it was worth the investment. It’s not surprising that a recent G2 report states that the three most important SaaS purchasing considerations are:

  • Ease of implementation.
  • ROI within six months.
  • Ease of use and adoption. 

With so much uncertainty about the future, finance leaders are focusing on investments with rapid impact. A survey by IDC asked which strategies firms are undertaking to meet the challenges of the current macroeconomic climate. At the top of the list is “re-prioritize technology initiatives,” emphasizing those with aggressive short-term payback (typically less than 12 months). 

What is time-to-value?

Defining time-to-value depends a lot on the context. Generally, it’s that moment when you first experience the benefit of a product. That can be when you first use it, or when you first notice an improvement in your workflows or processes. But in other instances, it might take more time to realize a product’s full value, particularly if the solution must integrate with other business processes. In those cases, time-to-value could be the time it takes to realize the full value of a product.

The time-to-value metric can be helpful when comparing two or more options to invest in software that might appear to have a similar ROI in the short run — the one with the lower time-to-value might be the way to prioritize. However, typically, the more customizable solution that handles greater complexity will take longer to implement and therefore have a longer time-to-value. As with any business decision, balancing your short-term needs with longer-term goals is important to keep in mind. The lower time-to-value for one solution might be because it is lacking in the type of breadth and depth that will be required to support your company’s growth projections. In this case, using time-to-value as your deciding factor may create more expensive future problems.

Evaluating the time-to-value of a spend management platform.

Time-to-value is an important consideration for spend management platforms because of the wide range of users. Spend management impacts your entire company, including purchases like developers buying SaaS licenses, marketers running campaigns, salespeople traveling to conferences, and finance teams paying bills and closing the books. For optimum time-to-value, a platform must be easy to use immediately — for all employees and their managers. If not, adoption will be poor and the increased cost of support and change management falls onto the finance and IT teams.

But many employees just don’t have time to learn multiple complicated new systems. To avoid dealing with it, they look for workarounds, which create gaps in visibility and evade controls. If a product has a steep learning curve, employees may never use it. One study found companies waste an average of 37% of their software spend on solutions employees don’t use. That’s why we obsess about creating a platform that is easy to use and intuitively guides any employee through any type of purchase. Our approach increases adoption, drives savings, and ensures compliance.

For example, here’s how one G2 reviewer describes her experience with Airbase:

“Airbase is super user-friendly. I was able to download the app, and with no training, I submitted my first expense in about 2-3 minutes. Long gone are the days of compiling receipts and filling in excessive details.”

Ease of onboarding and time-to-value.

Fear of a lengthy implementation is one of the top reasons businesses continue to use clunky software. A Gartner study found that the top barrier to investing in new software is lost time and a long learning curve. For example, an ERP implementation can take from six months to two years.

Airbase customers tell us our onboarding process is far easier than they anticipated. With our onboarding team’s help, it comes down to five steps. That short timeframe is by design: The platform’s interface and emphasis on workflows make it easy to get started. 

“The simple and intuitive design translates to quick onboarding and effective usage across the organization.”

G2 Review

Making a solution your own.

Your company is unique, so your systems need to reflect your processes and requirements. But if a workflow needs complicated custom coding to meet your business requirements, that can negatively impact your time-to-value. This becomes especially true as your business grows and processes such as approval chains become more sophisticated.

A better approach employs no-code tools, such as a drag-and-drop interface to configure processes. For example, with Airbase’s Guided Procurement module, it’s so easy to configure approval processes and create rules that loop in all necessary stakeholders. Without needing a developer or time from IT, business users can create processes that automatically route to procurement, accounting, security, legal, IT, budget owners, finance, or anyone else involved in your purchasing process when needed.

With today’s focus on smart and resilient growth, you can’t afford to miss out on the ROI of a spend management platform. Time-to-value is an important component of maximizing your investment in a short period of time. Let us show you how to get started!

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