Tag Archives: Business plan

A Helpful Checklist for a Successful New Product Introduction

30 Jan

Start with a Business Case for the Product

Did you do the work upfront to confirm that it makes sound business and financial sense for your company to introduce this product (or service)? That upfront work is a business case and plan for the product.  You should answer these strategic questions in the business case. How does this product address the market / customer needs?  What can your company deliver uniquely with this product that no competitor can?  Do your core strengths support this product?

It’s critical that you accurately and honestly forecast the sales you plan to generate fromTwo business people giving a high five for success this product, projected product costs to determine the gross margin as well as any additional operational (or other) headcount required to support the projected revenues and new business/customers.

Pull together a cross-functional product team that has the knowledge to provide the data needed to develop the business case. Some team members may only be needed on occasion (sales management, finance, manufacturing, marketing communications) while other members are core to the business case development, engineering, operations, product management and product marketing.

With the product business case completed, you have the information needed to move forward. Next have management review and approve the business case.  Having their buy-in will ensure that your product receives the resources and support required to be successful.  In most companies, this is a requirement.

Checklist for a Successful New Product Introduction:

1.  Beta Test the Product. Work with a few of your trusted key customers to trial and provide feedback to get the ‘kinks’ worked out from both the product and operations side.

2.  Back-end Processes. Ensure the back-end processes are in place and the internal operations teams (customer service, help desk, etc) are fully trained on the new product.

3.  Customer Feedback Loop.  Make sure to set up a process for customer feedback both for the beta test and after the introduction.  The feedback loop for customer issues and comments should include the core product team  who is responsible to evaluate and resolve.

4. Sales Training.  Your sales channel should be fully trained and all support materials completed.  This includes customer presentations (pitch deck) for the sales team, internal website updates.

5.  Marketing.  Is the launch planned and ready to go?  Is the website updated?  Are the product materials, such as manuals, technical white papers, and product FAQs completed?

If these can be answered with a YES, a successful New Product Introduction can be the result.

Anything you’d add to this checklist?

Resources:  Big Picture Questions to Ask When Launching a New Product, Alex Gammelgard, Arena

A Simple but Powerful Business Tool

16 Jan

Whatever strategic decisions we make in our business it’s important to have as much information at hand to make the best choices for success.  A sometimes overlooked but, simple exercise that can provide much of that information is a S.W.O.T. Analysis.  

What is a S.W.O.T. Analysis?

S.W.O.T. = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Part of a business and marketing plan, a S.W.O.T. analysis identifies a company’s strengths and weaknesses relative to customers and the opportunities and threats present in the market. Preparing a S.W.O.T. analysis (even without completing a detailed business plan) can identify those things that will help accomplish a company’s objectives (a strength or opportunity), or it may identify an obstacle (a threat or weakness) that must be overcome or minimized to achieve desired results.  A S.W.O.T. analysis is not difficult to create but, requires a company to take an honest look at itself and a thorough look at its environment.

Components of S.W.O.T. Analysis

Internal:

An audit of a company’s strengths will assess what it does well, what are its most valued assets and resources and any advantages it has in the market. Conversely, identify weaknesses, vulnerabilities and what can be done better.  Both should be looked at relative to its importance to customers.

External:

As important as preparing an internal analysis is looking at a company’s external environment and threats and opportunities.  Threats and opportunities change over time as the result of changes in the competitive, economic, political/legal, technological, or sociocultural environments in which a company operates.

With a completed S.W.O.T. Analysis, management will have a current view of the competitive landscape, any obstacles or potential roadblocks and areas identified for improvement internally.

Next Steps:

1- Prioritize identified strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities and complete a SWOT matrix (like the one shown) to visually show the analysis.

SmartDraw Software SWOT Analysis Matrix

2 – Develop an Action Plan to address weaknesses and threats and to take advantage of strengths and opportunities.

Resources:
Importance of SWOT Analysis, by Regina Edwards, eHow Contributor
SmartDraw Software Templates for S.W.O.T. Analysis
SWOT Analysis by Anthony C. Denca

Review Your Business Plan Now for 2012 Success

12 Dec

As we near the end of 2011, now is the time to pull that business plan off the shelf.   If you haven’t done this already, it’s time for a full review of your plan for the coming year.

Why is it important to review your business plan?  To achieve your goals and move beyond where you are today, you must assess how well your company is performing to the business plan and identify any significant changes that may require adjustments to the plan.  If you make it a best practice to do a full review at least once a year,  your business goals will remain top of mind and you will be positioned to take full advantage of opportunities, address challenges and grow your business.

Make sure you review these key components of your business plan before 2012

1.  Company Analysis:  How well did your business perform to plan this year? Did your business meet expectations? Did you accomplish what you set out to do?  If you didn’t make your targets, do you know why not?  What are you good at and what makes you unique and qualified to be in this business?  Identify your biggest challenges and opportunities.

2.  Industry Analysis:  Has the size of the market grown or contracted? Take a look at the competition.  Are there more or fewer players?  Who are the major players?  What position do they have?  Do you see new market trends?

3.  Customer Analysis:  Who are your customers and are they the same targets in your business plan today?  Are they buying your products and services?  What are their needs and are any trends affecting their buying behavior?

4.  Marketing Strategy:  Is your marketing strategy generating the projected revenues and results from your products/services.  Are your products priced and positioned to take advantage of opportunities.  Do your products’ features and or specifications meet the market needs?  Did your marketing plans and promotional activities generate the intended results?

5.  Financial Plan:  Do you have enough revenues and the necessary cash flow to operate the business?  Do you need more capital to run the business and take advantage of market opportunities?

6.  Management Team:  Do you have the right players to operate and grow your business?

With a full business plan review completed,  you are ready to make any necessary changes and to set your goals for 2012 and develop an action plan to achieve them.  It can be difficult especially for small businesses to take the time out from day-to-day business operations to review and plan.  Planning takes discipline but, for long-term success it’s a requirement.

Business Plans are Dynamic – Is It Time for a Review?

10 Oct

by Susan Lowe

It’s been six months or longer since you last looked at your business plan.  Now might be a good time to consider a review. Here are a few of the reasons why you might want to take a look at your business plan.

Something significant has changed in the marketplace, such as competition or government legislation that may affect your strategy and achieving your plan.

Your company has made changes to or introduced new products.

You may want to change your business structure or need additional funding. 

Costs of business operations have increased due to an increase in the price of a needed resource and your financial projections may no longer be valid. An example is the increase in the price of oil and subsequent increase in gas prices.  

What is the right amount of time between reviews?  Business is dynamic and consequently a business plan is dynamic.  A good practice is to review the plan every six months and include anything that has specifically changed, such as products, customers or the competition. Businesses should complete a major review and update of their business plan yearly.

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