In today's fast-paced business environment, the temptation to dive right into a new Information Technology (IT) project is strong. This is especially true for innovative technologies like generative artificial intelligence projects that are currently all the rage.
If you're implementing an IT project without a solid business plan that supports it, read on to understand the high risks involved.
Neglecting business planning when going forward with an IT development project is a recipe for failure, regardless of the industry, scale, or size of the enterprise.
Recently, I witnessed the failure of new generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-up venture to capitalize on a successful marketing pitch by a respected AI marketer influencer.
The venture clearly had not planned for what occurs from successful marketing promotion. New customer were unable to receive needed product and customer support services. The marketer, responding to his followers, also was met with no response from business leaders and support staff.
The end result was abandonment of support for the service by the marketer, who moved on to promote and purchase a competing product, along with his large base of followers.
This new venture may never recover from the lost trust of customers and partner stakeholders. A review of the business plan should have raised questions about how new customers would receive new product and customer support services, to match the mass marketing plan that was engaged.
Large corporate and government projects backed by billions of dollars in investment are not immune to failure due to a lack of planning and resolving issues and concerns that are a part of planning. The best practices that govern successful businesses and IT projects apply to corporate enterprise, government projects and start-up entrepreneurial ventures, alike.
A business plan is the foundation on which your entire operation rests. It isn't just a document; it's a roadmap that guides your venture from startup to growth.
A sound business plan that is maintained enables your team to sustain business operations and key programs like product development and customer service fulfillment.
Visual workflow diagrams are invaluable tools for mapping out business processes and data flows. They can highlight gaps and inefficiencies that may not be apparent in text-only process descriptions.
Workflow diagrams provide business managers and IT developers with needed context, which is key to developing and testing applications that will meet stakeholders' needs.
If you want to learn how to construct a workflow diagram and integrate it into your business plan, see the end of this column for information on how to participate in the next LPRN collaborative learning event.
Strategic planning is not a one-and-done event. It's an ongoing program governed by structured processes and best practice frameworks, supported by business leaders at every level of an organization.
How often to review and update a business plan and supporting management documentation depends on what's occurring with the business, the supporting IT platforms, applications, and other technologies that support critical aspects of the business.
As a general guideline, business plans should be reviewed and updated quarterly. When there are significant changes in the business environment or a new IT project is proposed, business planning should begin prior to or soon after the IT project conceptualization project phase has begun.
Web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications like Lucidchart coupled with Tim Berry's Lean Business Planning framework, are invaluable resources for navigating the business planning journey efficiently and effectively.
Interested in learning more about successful strategic business IT project planning?
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As a 30+ year entrepreneur and enterprise business systems consultant veteran, I share a wealth of knowledge gained from supporting corporate, government and non-profit enterprises.