Do You Need a Business Plan or a Project Plan?

Do You Need a Business Plan or a Project Plan?

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.

Business Plan

 “A big business starts small.” Richard Branson

business-plan

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.

 

business-plan

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.”

2. Purpose

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.

3.Profile

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.

 

Project Plan

 

“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.

project-management

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:

1. Communication

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.”

  1. 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.

project-management

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.

project-management

 

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.

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.

Email: info@pranabusinessconsulting.com

Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn

Unpacking Software Development Lifecycle Models

Unpacking Software Development Lifecycle Models

 

SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle and is also known as the Application Development Life-Cycle. SDLC describes the phases (often used in IT and Systems) of planning, creating, testing, and deploying a process or information system. There are different types, or more accurately, different elements of types of SDLC models used. The most common ones are Waterfall, Iterative, Spiral, V-shaped as well as the Agile model.

System Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, Tools to Create Effective Project Plans, I’ve used many different SDLC models for a variety of projects, including helping start-ups with business plans, building marketing strategies, supporting change management, developing IT solutions as well as building and tracking e-commerce sites and social media campaigns.

Regardless of which SDLC model you use, there are six key stages in the SDLC cycle:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development and Testing
  • Implementation
  • Documentation, and;
  • Evaluation

The beauty of the more agile SDLC models (excluding Waterfall and V-Shape) is through the methodology; you can go backwards and forwards between steps and adjust where necessary.

 

Waterfall Model

“The Waterfall model is the pioneer of the SDLC processes.” Softwaretestinghelp.com

The Waterfall model is a Sequential model as the software development processes are split into phases and each phase has to be completed before the next step can be taken. A step-by-step overview of the phases is as follows: Requirement analysis, system design, implementation, system testing, system development and system analysis.

Introduced in 1970 by Winston Royce, the model works well when implemented in a stable environment and it is best used for smaller projects. If your needs are straightforward the Waterfall model will yield the best results but it is not right for big jobs requiring agile changes.

 

The Iterative Model

“During software development, more than one iteration of the software development cycle may be in progress at the same time.” Defense Systems Software Development

According to Andrew Powell-Morse over five decades ago the US Air Force and NASA worked together to develop X-15 hypersonic aircraft. They began by following an Iterative design process and the positive results of this prompted NASA to implement an Iterative SDLC model for their software development.

The Iterative model differs from the rigid stages of the Waterfall model and is described as a cyclical process, rather than a step by step one. There’s the initialisation phase at the start and the deployment at the end and in many small steps in between which may be repeated and fine tuned including: Planning – requirements – design – implementation – verification and evaluation.

Because this model is agile and quickly implemented this helps to show up any functional or design flaws early on in the process, but it’s not suitable for small projects. It is also worth noting that as not all requirements are gathered in the beginning of the entire life cycle it can be heavy on resources, management and budget.

 

The Spiral Model

“The Spiral is a risk-driven model which means that the overall success of a project highly depends on the risks analysis phase.” Dmitry Gurendo

Using the Spiral models involved both sequential and prototype processes.  It is a complex model and best understood by first being broken down into four main quadrants:

  1. Planning Phase
  2. Risk Analysis Phase
  3. Engineering Phase
  4. Evaluation Phase.

The model is known as Spiral because the development processes repeatedly passes through these stages and each iteration is called a Spiral. During the Risk Analysis in Phase Two, for example, all the four phases – planning, risk analysis, engineering and evaluation are repeated.

When working with the Spiral Model, “Team members try to gather the product objectives, requirements (e.g. Business Requirement Specifications or BRS, System Requirement Specifications or SRS), alternatives in design, etc,” explains Dmitry Gurendo, “In the subsequent spirals; all requirements are generated according to the customer’s feedback. Thus, permanent communication between the customer and project management is crucial.”

Use of the Spiral Model is recommended for large projects where software requires continuous risk evaluation and changes. Although development can be fast, Spiral can also go on infinitely. The time during the Risk Analysis Phase is too detailed for low-risk projects and the planning, resetting objectives, risk analysis, and prototyping needs to be carefully managed with users being involved early on with the prototyping tools and subsequently at every other stage.

 

V-Shaped Model

“As the industry has evolved, the technologies have become more complex, increasingly faster, and forever changing, however, there remains a set of basic principles and concepts that are as applicable today as when IT was in its infancy.” Geeks For Geeks

Also called the Verification and Validation model, the V-Shaped Model is an extension of the Waterfall model, with testing stages adhered to during each development phase.  On the one side of the model are the Verification phases with the Validation phases on the other side, these are linked by coding phase which gives the model its “V” shape.

Testing in the V-Shaped Model is done in a hierarchical perspective so what it’s needed by the project team, for example, informs the high level and detailed design phases. As each of these phases is completed the requirements, they are defining become more and more refined and detailed.

Detractors of the V-Shaped Model say it puts too much emphasis on testing, particularly during the test planning phase, which  leads to testing being “squeezed into tight windows” at the end of development when initial phases have taken longer than expected but the date of implementation has to be the same.

Supporters argue that over time the V-Shaped Model has changed and with proper understanding it can support flexibility and agility throughout the development process. It is interesting to note that the V-Shaped Model is, in some areas, being adopted by the medical device industry. This, according to Barriers to Adopting Agile Practices When Developing Medical Device Software, is because it leans towards the principles of documentation, maintaining traceability and regulatory compliances.

Agile Model

“Agile methodologies were developed as a solution to the challenges of the traditional Waterfall model of software development and the traditional project and team management principles.” Jacob Aliet Ondiek

In Jacob Aliet Ondiek’s article, 12 Agile Manifesto Principles, he unpacks how there was a shift towards more agile methodologies by prioritising the following:

  • More focus on individuals and interactions above processes and tools
  • Correctly built software over vast amounts of documentation and,
  • Client collaboration over contract wrangling, and;
  • Valuing responsiveness to change instead of adhering to a rigid model.

In fact, in Utah, USA in 2001, 17 software developers actually put together The Agile Manifesto to define their basic principles and from this emerged different Agile methodologies including (with reference to Smartsheet’s Comprehensive Guide to the Agile Manifesto Scrum) the dynamic systems development method (DSDM), crystal clear, extreme programming (aka “XP”), adaptive software development and feature-driven development.

The Agile Model does as it says and has agile back and forth communications between the cores phases of: Requirements, architecture and design, development and test and feedback.

Interestingly, the developers of the Manifesto back in 2001 saw the model as something to be used by software development teams develop code more efficiently but now a lot of the Agile Model methodologies are being used across a variety of different businesses.

I’ve found what Dave Sharrock, VP of Agile42, says to be true of our consulting business as well: “We’re seeing more and more [agile-oriented consulting business] being brought in by business managers or leadership teams with the need to bring in the whole product portfolio – the product development process  – into an agile way of working.”

 

 

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.

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.

Email: info@pranabusinessconsulting.com

Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn

Eight Tools to Create Project Plans and Deliver Marketing Success

Eight Tools to Create Project Plans and Deliver Marketing Success

Anyone with a business strives for success but not everyone systematically implements the project plan tools which are readily available to assist with marketing. This may be because many of the resources seem too academic or perhaps it’s the sheer volume of information which is daunting. In this article I highlight eight tools which can be used to create a solid project plan, helping create the strategic backbone to marketing success.

For project plans to produce the desired results they need to integrate, support and inform marketing strategy, development and direction. A project plan can be made up of one or more of the business tools below which include matrices and models to help identify almost every aspect of a business, from brand purpose, role players, actions, insights, competitors and company growth.

 

1) Project Charter

 

“If you don’t know where you are going. How can you expect to get there?” Basil S. Walsh

Creating a Project Charter is recommended for someone in project management who needs to identify, get buy in, track and measure a specific project. It outlines the:

  • Breadth of project
  • Goals
  • Who is involved and their responsibilities.

A Project Charter should:

  • Encapsulate the project’s purpose
  • Keep the people involved on the same page
  • Be a contract between the project sponsor, key stakeholders and the project team.

SmartSheet has Project Charter useful templates available for free download in word or excel.

 

 

2) Project Plan

 

“Plans are worthless. Planning is essential.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

While a Project Charter is an overview of a project, often to get buy in and approval for the framework, a Project Plan works on the approved structure and framework of the charter.

Bright Hub Project Management outlines the following points on how a Project Plan assists with the specific detail on executing, managing and controlling:

  • Project Value Proposition
  • People involved and their responsibilities
  • Business structure
  • What needs to be done
  • Phases, activities and tasks
  • Identification the work breakdown structure (WBS)
  • Allocation of resources
  • Time lines and milestones or critical path schedule (CPS)
  • Documentation of project inter-dependencies.

There are various ways to create a Project Plan but the traditional Microsoft Project Templates always work effectively, or explore the option of using a free Gantt Chart template.

 

3) Project Plan Scope Triangle

 

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” Theophrastus

 

The Scope Triangle has been used in project training programmes for over 25 years and is a useful tool to use when looking at the three “primary forces” of a project as well as if, when and where a “trade off” between them is necessary:

  • Time
  • Quality

As Nick Jenkins, from Project Smart says, “The best project managers will juggle all three like hot potatoes and will make decisions every day which effectively trade-off time versus quality versus resources.”

 

4) Ansoff’s Matrix

 

“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” Henry Mintzberg

 

This strategic planning tool dates back to the 1960s and is named after its creator, Russian American mathematician and business manager, Harry Igor Ansoff, also known as the “father of strategic management”.

The Matrix is based on Ansoff’s definition of product-market strategy as being: “A joint statement of a product line and the corresponding set of missions which the products are designed to fulfil.” Within the axis of existing / new markets and existing /new products are:

  • Market penetration
  • Market development
  • Product development and;

The benefit of using Ansoff’s Matrix (also known as the Product/Market Expansion Grid) is that it can be used to, as MindTools explains, “Identify alternative growth strategies by looking at present and potential products in current and future markets.”

 

5) The Boston Matrix

“The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.” Jim Rohn

 

The Boston Matrix uses the axis of Relevant Market Share in relation to Relevant Market Growth to chart portfolios within a business, defined as:

  • Dogs – Products with low growth or market share
  • Question Marks or Problem Child – Products in high growth markets with low market share
  • Stars – Products in high growth markets with high market share
  • Cash Cows – Products in low growth markets with high market share.

I’ve included this matrix as it is useful for companies with separate business units or diverse products, but as Strategic Management Insights points out, it needs to be used by following these steps –

  • Choose the unit
  • Define the market
  • Calculate relative market share
  • Find out market growth rate, and;
  • Draw the circles on a matrix.

 

 

6) Gartner’s Hype Cycle

 

“Realistically, the world (and the technology) aren’t quite ready for autonomous flying taxis.” Kasey Panetta

Unlike most of the tools on this list, Gartner’s Hype Cycle positions us firmly in the 21st Century. It’s described as, “A graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.” But, more simply put, it’s positioning your product or business within a technology curve of expectation and time to see where it is / isn’t potentially relevant to the marketplace.

Gatner’s project tool drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle:

  • Innovation Trigger
  • Peak of Inflated Expectations
  • Trough of Disillusionment
  • Slope of Enlightenment
  • Plateau of Productivity.

Which – as they explain – helps to “separate the hype from the real”. For further insights on this, read 5 Trends Emerge in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.

 

 

7) System Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organisation forward.” Joy Gumz

Over the last 15 years I have consciously or unconsciously used the SDLC model in many projects including helping start ups with business plans, building marketing strategies, supporting change management and of course developing IT solutions. This simple model is an method in defining the steps in the project plan through there are various other tools.

The SDLC, also known as the Application Development Life-Cycle, describes the process (often used in IT and Systems) is for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an process or information system.

There are six key stages in the SDLC cycle:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development and Testing
  • Implementation
  • Documentation, and;

An additional note on the importance of this from Innovative Architects: ”The life cycle approach of any project is a time-consuming process. Even though some steps are more difficult than others, none are to be overlooked. An oversight could prevent the entire system from functioning as planned.”

For additional project planning tools Smart Insights have an article with more suggestions, including SWOT Analysis, the BCG Matrix, more on the Product Lifecycle Model, the Pestle Analysis Model and the BCG Matrix.

 

8) Bespoke Project Planning Tools

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker

At Prana Business Consulting we also create bespoke project planning tools based on our experience as well as specific client needs.

  • Prana Business Flow Pyramid
  • B2B marketing model
  • Digital marketing Flowchart, and our
  • Marketing to Moms Model.

 

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting and has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.

 

 

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.

Email: info@pranabusinessconsulting.com

Phone: +27 (0) 11 794 1409 / + 27 (0) 83 414 9796

Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn

 

Phygital: The New Retail Marketing Playground

Phygital: The New Retail Marketing Playground

Physical merged with digital, that’s where the term phygital comes from. It’s a marketing and retail description, but you’ll find a world of phygital art out there too.  Omni-channel marketers should be excited about the phygital dimension. It’s a hybrid playground, and as Amrita Chowdhury, President of DY Works point out; “People move seamlessly between the physical and the digital world. Shouldn’t your consumer experience too?”

The brand retail space has changed. Once customers searched for a product, now the product has to try hard to seduce the customer; and we don’t just want to play and pay online. There’s a new phygital consumer who demands both a digital and physical brand experience. Retail Futurist, Howard Saunders, whose talk The Future is Scary inspired this article, explains the shift: “Ultimately, we are an innately social species that craves community, human contact and engaging spaces.”

E-commerce brands are introducing bricks and mortar stores. Most famously; the Amazon Book store. The first one in NYC is a cool 4,000 square feet with 3000 books on the shelves. Among its phygital marketing strengths are arranging the books according to data, Good Reads recommendations and Prime Member discounts. Plus, while you’re there you’ll get sidetracked by the Amazon electronics on sale.

Digitalist KRS Jamwal, summarises where we’re going with phygital: “The second wave of digital will be ‘phygital’—a combination of physical and digital, commonly called ‘omnichannel.’” Online brands are flexing their muscles in the real world. There are growing examples of this. Forbes.com, calls Warby Parker the “Poster Child for the Store of the Future” and it’s one of the most interesting retailers to embrace the “clicks and bricks” trend. Plus the Google Pop-Up stores, which opened their domes on 19 October. Now you can Daydream in their virtual reality station, for real.

But predicting our South African phygital future has a lot to do with the retail environment. Do we want more bricks and mortar shops locally?  According to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), yes we do. Despite the economic downturn, “South African retail property has outperformed the global retail property total return index for all but two of the last 16 years.”

 

South Africa is among the top performing global markets in the retail sector. In the last 10 years (measured up to December 2016) South Africa and Hong Kong were the only two countries in the world that delivered double digit total returns on retail property, followed by Canada at 9.8% and Singapore at 9.2%.

So it seems that in terms of retail, South Africa has the space for brands to transition into the phygital playground, it’s a matter of striking soon and getting help from experienced omni-channel marketers. In the words of Paul Greenberg, founder of the NORA network; “Online is a great place to start a business. Perhaps the only place… But it’s not a great place to get stuck.”

Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting

About Prana Business Consulting

Prana Business Consulting is a full outsource marketing agency. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in marketing, branding, CRM and digital solutions. Prana partners with the best niche partners in the industry to drive end to end solutions. Prana specializes in solutions for baby, beauty and health care brands. Prana is a level 3, BBBEE certified company.

Website: http://pranabusinessconsulting.com