Knowing that you're working on the right things and getting the results you want is critically important to the successful development of any product or service. This concern becomes even more pressing when the results you're seeking are tied to funding.
With Beehive we make sure we're on the right track by ensuring we're delivering value in three key areas...
- User value - are we providing a service which people want to use and that solves a real world problem they have?
- Social value - does the service we provide contribute to the resolution of a social issue whilst avoiding negative consequences for people and planet?
- Financial value - are we providing a service in a cost effective way and can that service sustain itself or grow?
In practice this means for User Value we're interested in the number of people who use Beehive to find and decide which opportunities to apply for. With Social Value, it's about ensuring people are only applying for opportunities they are eligible and appropriate for - preventing wasted effort from both fund seekers and funders. And finally with Financial Value, we're interested in reducing the cost of delivery whilst generating enough revenue to sustain and grow.
Balancing these priorities against each other and with constraints such as capacity and funding can be a challenge (and is the subject of another post). But what's important to highlight in this short reflection is the need to maintain focus on working towards the right types of value at the at the right time.
We learnt this the hard by way focusing too much on meeting an ambitious customer target for a grant we had received (more on this in a later post), when we should have been becoming more confident about the Social Value we were delivering. Because Beehive is primarily a tech for good project, discovering that we weren't delivering Social Value would have raised questions about the merits for continuing the project in its current form, and thereby the need for generating more revenue.
Thankfully we spotted the need to validate our Social Value and we were able to refocus our targets with our funders; and soon started to see results - such as >90% of users who received a report from Beehive avoiding funders they were inappropriate for, or adapting their proposal to make it suitable; thereby preventing wasted effort from both fund seekers and funders - this gave us confidence to continue.
Unless you’re demonstrating User Value you’ll be hard pressed to attract and retain people to help with a social issue or generate revenue from. After this (and depending on your priorities) either Social or Financial may be the next most important area to be confident you’re delivering value in. Currently our order of optimisation is User, Social, then Financial value. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be testing ways to generated revenue until you know you're delivering Social Value, instead it's a rule of thumb for for reflecting on priorities and deciding where to spend time when resources are limited.