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At Tulip, we focus on projects that deliver short time-to-value. By focusing on quick operations wins that deliver lasting impact, we ensure each customer realizes value with Tulip quickly while building the foundation for scale.
In this guide, we’ll outline the philosophy behind the paths to value that we carve for customers. The goal is to help you understand how we balance business goals, operational outcomes, and future-focused capability building so that the solutions you start with Tulip make a difference in the long run.
Chapter One: Why We Focus on Time-to-Value
Before we go into detail, let’s clarify our terms. By “time-to-value,” we mean the time it takes to see measurable operational improvements from Tulip.
Time-to-value is similar to ROI in that it quantifies the impact of an investment. But it does so in terms of a predefined operational or business goal rather than a strict dollar amount (ROI follows naturally from these operational improvements). Some common definitions of “value” we see are lower cycle-time, less scrap and rework, visibility into a machine or human task, and higher throughput. Across our customer base, there are dozens more.
While all of these value areas translate into a hard dollar amount, “value” here is often more than a sum of dollars. The benefits of this kind of value—a combination of technological foundation, forward-thinking culture, change management, and measurable, reportable ROI—accumulate.
Prioritizing time-to-value lets you determine whether or not your investment is going to succeed early so you can adjust course as necessary.
We focus on time-to-value for a few reasons.
1. You don’t need to fully deploy at a massive scale every piece of a large project to benefit from it
Some of our customers have multi-year, multi-site roadmaps for digital transformation. Tulip is often a core part of these roadmaps. For these customers, we focus on creating incremental value at every step of the way.
This is a departure from the status quo.
Typically, large manufacturing projects are implemented following a waterfall model. For some types of projects, a full roll-out can take 12-18 months. During this time, vendors gather requirements, design the solution, implement it, test it, and make last-minute changes before it goes into production. The project is delivered in full at the end. There’s risk inherent to this form of project design.
We encourage all of our customers to follow the agile method instead. In practice, this means scoping large projects into deliverable increments of value that can be assessed on a regular basis. This way, you’re learning, adapting, executing, and ultimately creating more value on the way toward a broader goal.
2. You can’t know everything upfront
It’s a truism in agile that you don’t know what you really need from a solution until you’ve put it into practice. Put differently, there are unknown unknowns in every project. Waiting to deploy everything at once just delays their discovery.
For example, the first draft of a work instruction application might be hard for operators to use. You may need additional device or software integrations. The list goes on. The point is you don’t know until it’s deployed in a real operational context with a human interacting with it whether or not it will fit your needs.
By emphasizing fast time-to-value, we ensure a project is actually meeting customer needs.
3. Many times, ROI is indirect
It bears repeating that “time-to-value” isn’t code for “ROI doesn’t matter.” But operational improvements are often indirectly tied to ROI. They’re dependent on one another. An example will help clarify.
One small manufacturer we work with used Tulip to measure the performance of a machining line. Their business case was clear. “If we can’t improve utilization, we have to buy more machines. So how do we avoid that?” We worked with them to quickly bring their legacy machines online. With the data they collected, they were able to identify bottlenecks, increase throughput, and avoid any new capital expenditure. The value came quickly. Within weeks they had step-by-step visibility into the process and a quantified understanding of machine performance. They had hard numbers for uptime, OEE, and part-per-shift. The ROI followed, with 6-figure savings in equipment, lower cost of goods sold, and the ability to fulfill larger orders for national retailers.
Chapter Two: How Tulip Delivers Value Fast
Everything about Tulip—from our product development process to the way we structure customer collaborations—is geared toward quick time-to-value.
Here are some of the concrete ways we make this happen.
It matters where you start. That’s why we put in the time upfront to learn your business and set priorities to make sure that we’re foregrounding projects that actually create value for your business. This prevents slow time-to-value from working on everything at once and allows you to build capabilities that support your next projects.
Agile Project Design
Agile has a core underlying principle: The faster you sample, the more you learn.
We use this thinking to guide our collaborations with customers.
After identifying a concrete operational improvement with clear business value, we break the design and implementation into two-week sprints. Within these sprints, teams are usually building and testing multiple applications in parallel.
Work to identify concrete business and operational case. And then design projects to sample rapidly.
No-Code Application Development
Tulip’s emphasis on value is focused on the areas where manufacturing has typically struggled. Software projects are typically owned by IT, vendors, or consultants, not operations teams. This leads to slower project cycles and stressful interactions as teams go back and forth gathering requirements, refining, testing, and modifying.
Tulip is a no-code platform that lets operations teams design their own improvements. With Tulip, it’s easy to build apps, and easier to modify them when necessary. Because all of the development happens in a secure platform with roles and permissions, it makes it substantially easier for IT and Ops to collaborate.
In the end, no-code development means faster solution development, less competition for IT resources, and a clearer path to value.
This means customers often build a minimal viable product within the first few days of work that they can start testing, iterating, and improving.
Internal Capability Building
Tulip is a platform built for the frontline worker. So we take seriously the fact that Tulip should empower workers to excel in their roles. To do this, we work with customers to train their teams to use the platform and to begin to build out new applications on their own.
Further, we don’t take it for granted that agile may be a new working method for your organization. That’s why we take time to coach your team through the agile method. Our goal is to help you develop an app-building skill set as well as an app-building process that you can replicate long after the first training.
For some customers, Tulip is truly self-serve. It’s intuitive enough to learn that we never need to help out. Our extensive library of educational materials is enough to get going.
For larger enterprise customers with complex organizational structures, we spend time training key users to manage the platform, identify and prioritize use cases, and train the rest of their organization in app building.
The faster your team becomes proficient in Tulip, the faster the time-to-value. We’re here to facilitate.
We understand that not every organization wants to build solutions from the ground up. And we also think that, for common challenges, you shouldn’t have to. That’s why we’ve built a growing library of configurable solutions, applications, and integrations.
With our application library, you can download an app template and use the no code editor to configure it for your unique processes. Many operations inefficiencies are really clusters of several, interconnected challenges. For these, we offer solutions of several apps built to help you jumpstart a full operational area (OSD manufacturing, machining, discrete assembly).
We get that digitization can be a risk. Our proof-of-value process is our way of mitigating that risk. During a proof-of-value, we’ll work with you to design a small, circumscribed project and bring it to value quickly. The timeline for these projects is usually a few months. In the end, there’s no question: Tulip either will have created value, or it won’t have. From there, you can assess risk and move forward or not.
Conclusion: Time-to-Value that Works for Customers
Throughout this document, we’ve outlined why we think time-to-value is such an important metric for manufacturing organizations. It focuses on solving real business problems, builds organization-wide capabilities, and grows projects in manageable increments that, in the aggregate, produce enterprise-scale impact. Our method for ensuring short time-to-value is rooted in remembering the business case behind a use case. The agile method and a no-code application platform that allows you to iterate quickly on your solutions are how we get you there.
If you’re interested in how Tulip can deliver value quickly for you, get in touch.
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