May 12, 2009

How to write a plan

Bringing a new product to market involves the product, the market and the bringing.

ProductToMarketAt some point on the journey, someone – that would be you then – decides it’s time to write a business plan. Time to crank open Word and Excel? Not yet.

Whether for a new product, a new business or a new period of the calendar, business planning has three distinct disciplines:

1. Data – what can we know?

There’s a lot of data points out there, the idea is to track down everything you can about the market and the competition. Don’t filter. Collect as much intelligence as possible, including: size, share, financials, products, new products, trends, lists, processes, names.

Next look inside. What can you know about your own organisation? Capacity, capability, financials, attention, focus. What are the strengths to build on and the risks to manage?

2. Discussion – what do we understand?

Time to crunch the data and get into detail about why things happen, what might happen and how they’re related. It’s critical to involve the people who will have to do the work. Getting the benefit from all the data demands a full and frank debate – this is no time for happy talk or leaving things unsaid. A robust plan is always based on robust thinking.

3. Decisions – what will we do?

Make decisions and, finally, commit the plan to writing. Words and numbers. Slides and spreadsheets. Powerpoint and Excel.

Anyone raising money (internally or externally) will probably need a longer piece of writing so allow a few more days for that long awaited appointment with Word. Whether you’re writing long or short, the process is identical.

Bringing a product to market actually involves bringing a company along too. A clear, well thought out plan puts the wheels on the bus.


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Previous article May 11, 2009

8 reasons to ask 5 whys

What are you doing? Lots of stuff, right?

It's easy to be seduced by action - doing all the whats of what we're doing.