As a Management Consultant I see clients who come to us for the sole purpose of a creating a project plan, particularly in the e-commerce and living services space, but very often they need a cohesive business plan before we can implement an effective project plan. Here are some guidelines to identifying which you need and to creating both.
“A big business starts small.” Richard Branson
Any idea you have about generating money from goods or services is a business and deserves a business plan, even if it is on the back of a serviette while you’re having coffee. Start small and don’t be intimidated. From one sentence or paragraph can emerge your strategic intent.
The purpose of a business plan is twofold. It is a vision and a roadmap plus, if you’re looking for funding or investment it’s essential to have a great business plan, while a project plan may be something which follows on from that.
1. Industry Knowledge
Get to know your area of business very well, including competitors and what they’re doing, as Financial Management Executive, William Pirraglia says, “To write the perfect plan, you must know your company, your product, your competition and the market intimately.”
Entrepreneur explains a business plan as a “Written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.” Key to doing this is to know your business purpose, the “why” of the product, this is important for yourself and potential investors.
There are steps within step to a business plan, and getting a business profile right includes knowing how to engage your audience and telling your brand story in a unique and engaging way. Joanna Zambas has some good tips in her article How to Write a Company Profile including being aware of style and clarity as well as using testimonials and adding in a powerful call to action.
4. Marketing Plan
This is another sub-section which requires analysis and strategic thought. There are great “how to” online guides here, Hubspot actually have free templates available to use. This area is about how you’re going to sell so it includes marketing tactics, budget (financing / advertising) and marketing goals (new products / cross selling) as well as clearly defining your target audience.
5. Know Your Audience
Once you have the basics of your business plan in place you can fine tune it depending on who youre showing it to. As Entrepreneur John Rampton advises, “Bankers will be more interested in balance sheets and cash-flow statements, while venture capitalists will be looking at the basic business concept and your management team.”
Once you’re written the Business Plan, have a look at the SBA, the US Small Business Administration site which takes it further – including adding in these next strategic steps:
- Funding request -how much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years
- Financial projections -supply information like balance sheets
- Appendix – an optional section that includes résumés and permits.
“A project plan can be a sub-set of business plan, but not vice-versa.” Naresh Priyadarshi, CEO, SSCBS Innovation
For project plans to produce the desired results they need to integrate, support and inform a business plan in terms of marketing strategy, development and direction. I’ve written on the tools to create great project plans including matrices and models to help identify almost every aspect of a business. This includes brand purpose, role players, actions, insights, competitors and company growth.
But what is the strategic intent behind the tools used for project plans, or in other words, what goes in to putting a great project plan together? A project plan is about focusing on a more micro-level and this statement by Entrepreneur Jeff Platt says it all when you’re considering your first project plan: “Spend time upfront to invest in systems and processes to make long-term growth sustainable.” Here are five ways to put your project plan into action:
Identify who your stakeholders which is anyone who is affected by the project including project sponsors. This step sounds simple but as Elizabeth Larson puts it, “Typically many of the project’s key stakeholders, that is those affected by both the project and the project’s end result, do not fully understand the nature of the project plan.”
2. Roles and Responsibilities
This speaks to the point above and there are often more people involved than one thinks… The Project Times outlines these main players to bear in mind:
- Project sponsors
- Business experts
- Project manager
- The Project team
- End users who use the end product.
This also includes getting feedback from the team, if they’re on board they need to be heard, as Peter F. Drucker famously said, “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
- Statement of Scope and Scope Baseline
This includes outlining what the benefits of the product / service are – how is it helping, who is it helping and how do you get out target audience to buy into it. The deliverables can then be written up in what is called a “Scope Statement”. This also includes creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) so that the team is organised into manageable sections. The Scope Baseline is an extension of this and acts as the reference point through the project cycle. It includes the project scope document, the WBS itself and the WBS dictionary.
4. Management Plans: Timelines, Costs and Risks
Smart Sheet has free downloadable Project Plan templates to assist with the intricacies of your project plan but the risk analysis at this stage is important to note. As Emily Bonnie advises, “Tackle high-risk items early in your project timeline, if possible. Or create a small “time buffer” around the task to help keep your project on track in the event of a delay.” The Project Times reminds us to reassess the quality of the project and goes as far as suggesting you create a quality plan which, “Becomes the foundation for all the quality reviews and inspections performed during the project and is used throughout project execution.”
5. Back to Communication
You’ll notice that communication, engagement, feedback all loop backwards and forwards when creating a solid project plan. Not so with your business plan which can be a bit of a lonely task. Feel free to contact us at Prana if you could use a consultant to guide you along the way.
Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting
About Prana Business Consulting
Prana Business Consulting is a marketing partner to your business. Using omni-channel principles, Prana builds a connection between your brand and your client. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in Marketing, Branding, CRM and Social Media. Prana leverages industry specialists to deliver customized solutions for baby, beauty, health and wellness brands, locally and internationally. Prana is a level 1 BBBEE certified company.
Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796