Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Business Planning – 2 kinds, which to follow?

Most business planners tries to reduce the risk of failure by structuring, planning and doing market research. This approach reduces risk by removing possibilities of changes as much as possible.

You may be starting up or may be in the early stages of your business. You don't know exactly what your product will look like, who exactly are your target customers or market is. You don't know exactly what marketing strategy will bring you the best results. Your idea is innovative or innovative changes to an idea and, you need a planning approach.

There are two types of planning. You may or may not know about them.

Traditional planning

It's well known as waterfall approach and followed by most of the entrepreneur and business man. Traditional planning has four main phases:
  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Closing
Plan everything, know your risk factors, competitors, do market research as much as you can.

When the product is well defined or the business is well defined you should take this model. In this traditional planning risk is reduced planning around it. Also you may develop a separate risk plan. It is fact that risk may come up. It can smack your schedule. You will never want a change to happen in your business model, because changes introduce risk and when a change happens you have to go back and re-evaluate the whole planning.

Agile Planning

This planning model is developed in software industry for dealing with situations where change isn't something that might happen, change is in the norm. If you remove or avoid changes it will results in more risk.

Everyone knows that the software industry is constantly changing. What is today, may not be tomorrow or things may changed. Try to document all the possible risks that a software company would face in next two years. You will definitely find some, but you can never guarantee about the number, type or changes of risk factors.

So do we need a new way of thinking about risk and changes? Answer is definitely yes. We need something which takes advantage of change. Using this agile strategy you can quickly respond to technology changes or to changes in user demand, also with other customers special feature request.

Can you use this planning to start your business? Think about it.
  • Why have you struggled with doing a business plan?
  • Is changes in the norm and you can't put something down because you can't define it yet?
  • If you can define the changes, are you all done?
So, try agile and see what you think. Agile is not haphazard or trial and error. It is a disciplined approach to planning that requires you to be very focused. But if you learn it and use, it can give you some amazing results for your business.

Example panning

Amuse, that you found a special idea. A software product. With agile we don't develop or plan everything. We do as we go. We go to market, we go to clients, we take suggestions and feature requests. Say your product has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 features. Each feature require 1 month time for production and release. Out of which 1, 2 and 3 are basic and it may never require a change. So bingo it's a 6 months job. You may say, Wow, let's do it. But wait, what if feature 4 and 5 got outdated after 6 months? What if feature 4 needs massive change after 6 months? Following “Traditional Planning”? Oh! No, now you need to re-evaluate almost everything.

Follow Agile:

Develop your product with just basic and raw features as required for minimal use. It is OK if you are way back from your competitors. Release it (1, 2, 3 only). Take you 3 months. Bingo, you are out in the market. Ok now consider feature 4. Is that valuable, is that in trained, is that OK to add? Ya, lets do it. How long? 1 month. Humm... users came up with change suggestions. OK we can do it quick. Next feature 5. Ya, that’s in current trained, lets do it. Done in next 1 month. Humm... some users came up with change request in feature 4. OK we are good. Lets update feature 4. Wow we are good. What next? Feature 6 or may be 7, 8, 9 feature request by users. Humm..., we are good here as well.

So, following Agile planning, you are always with current trained. You can quickly meet your user's or customer's expectation. Now think, are you any more back from your competitors? I hope you will never be.

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