Importance of Proper Planning

Ever jump into a lake without first testing the water? Sometimes the water is perfect. Other times the water is so cold you need a dry suit. In this case, it pays to be prepared.

Like planning for a day on Lake Tahoe, the key to a successful project launch is making sure you have a strategic plan in place. It can mean the difference between a wise investment and a project that misses the mark entirely.

There are several internal and external factors to consider:

  • Internal: finances/budgets, executive direction, business processes, resources, and employees
  • External: target audience, brand perception, shareholders, competitive landscape, and technology

Over the years, I have seen several projects fail as the result of poor planning. Here are six steps to ensure project success:

  1. Stakeholder Interviews. Oftentimes, the difference between the success and failure of a project is simply a conversation with stakeholders and the company’s executive team. These interviews open the lines of communication and make sure the main objectives are met.
  2. Survey. Ask your customers about their user experience. Are they able to navigate your website or use your product easily? What features do they like best? Customers often feel more attachedto the company or product if they are asked for their opinions and see their suggestions incorporated.
  3. User Testing. There are several online services such as usertesting.com, trymyui.com, and loop11.com that can provide quick access to people who fit your target audience. It can be a matter of hours before you start to receive valuable insight which can be applied to the project. You can also hold a focus group or contract a full-service user testing company to provide a more thorough performance review.
  4. Competitive Analysis. Surveying the competitive landscape can help reveal features that can complement or hinder your project and trigger important conversations that can shape the direction of your project or campaign.
  5. Historical Analysis. Reviewing your own analytics – what has and hasn’t worked in the past – can determine the strategic project plan moving forward. This can come from paid search campaigns, website analytics, and email campaign statistics.
  6. Summary and Sign-Off. After reviewing the information above, be sure to review the findings with the stakeholders involved in the initial phase of the process. Without proper sign-off, you increase your risk of issues down the line which can impact the overall cost, timeline, or scope.

While thrill seekers may enjoy jumping into the lake without dipping their toe in first, when it comes to a decision that can influence your business plan, you may want to think twice before getting your feet wet. Take the time to educate your team and build the supporting documentation you need to design, develop and execute with precision and expertise instead of operating on assumptions.