Following on from last week’s “Idea to Launch checklist” announcement, I thought I’d share one of the areas covered in the checklist and talk about some of the tasks in it. Today, I’m going to look at tasks in the “Plan your Project” list. Once you’ve decided that you want to turn your idea into a product and you’ve decided what you want that product to do, you have to think about how to get it built.
So, what does this involve?
The tasks in the "Planning your Project" checklist look at:
- Scope: deciding what you build
- Funding: getting the money to pay for your product
- People: determining who you need to get your product to launch
- Timelines: deciding when you want to launch and how to get there
- Tracking: setting processes for managing your project
- Risks: defining potential areas that will affect the success of your project
Let’s take a look at these in a bit more detail:
You know what you want your product to do, but how much do you want to build and launch at the beginning? This is your project scope. In a previous article, I talked about minimal viable products and starting with the smallest possible project. For this task, you want to think about what to include in your project now and what you want to do later. You’ll also want to think about how you’ll manage changes to the scope of your project – what happens if something new comes up while you’re building?
This task is about figuring out where you’ll get the money to build your product. Will you use personal savings or maybe borrow from family and friends? Perhaps you can use a crowdfunding platform to get money from people that believe in your idea. Money can come from a lot of different places, so you’ll have to see what option is right for you. Be aware - unless the money is your own, it may come with conditions. You need to decide which ones are the least restrictive in both the short and long term.
It’s very difficult to build any product without any help – especially a tech product. There are several tasks in this checklist related to people. First, think about creating a user group of potential customers that will be your sounding board as you develop your product. This is critical to making sure that your product is built with your customer in mind. Also, think about the technical and non-technical people that will need to be involved in your project. What will each person need to do? Who will fill those roles? There are a set of tasks in the Idea to Launch checklist that deal specifically with hiring technical resources for your project.
At this stage, you might not know how long it will take to build you product. However, for business reasons, you might have a date in mind for launching your product. As you start to hire people for your project, you’ll be able to create a plan of key tasks and dates to get you to launch. You should also identify any key milestones that will be critical to meet in order to complete your project on time.
The key to staying on track in any project is to continually monitor your progress. The tasks in this area involve determining how you’ll do this. You might want to have a daily or weekly status meeting. There should also be a way to track your costs and where you are in your project. Finally, you want to manage any issues that might arise during the course of the project. There may be technical problems or other things that might increase your costs or delay your launch. You need a process for tracking and dealing with those issues.
Risks are anything that might affect the completion of your project. They can be anything – the ability to get funding, not finding the right skills to do something specialised for your product, a piece of legislation that might affect what your product will do – the possibilities are endless, and will depend on your product. The point is that you need to be aware of the risks so that you can do something about them – before they cause you a problem. So, the tasks here include listing out your risks and deciding how you’re going to handle them.
What happens next?
The final task in the “Plan your Project” checklist is to hold a project kick-off meeting. Once you’ve got all of the pieces in place to start your project, then it’s good practice to get people together for a meeting. This is an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves – but more importantly, it’s useful for setting expectations. You can provide some background to the project, and what you’re hoping this product will achieve. It also sets the stage for how you work together as a team.
In the Idea to Launch checklist, you’ll also be hiring your developers as you plan your project. After that, the work of developing your product begins – both with technical tasks like designing and building, but also the business tasks of setting up your business.