How-to develop an Idea into a Business Project?
Visualise, Clarify & Simplify an Idea to turn it into a Viable Project
What is an Opportunity Study? a short time to explore and test an idea (can also be referred as a Sprint). From an original idea, you try your best to clarify your concept, narrow down who it is for, define where and when it can take place, visualise it as a project and elaborate how you could do it.
What is a Project? the development of a solution under clear specifications to achieve an objective. The specifications include the list of resources especially in terms of budget and duration.
What is a Business Project? a business project is a type of project that aims to achieve economic viability.
What is Project Mapping? it is a method that I developed to visualise my project ideas in just two pages. It consists of two pages clarifying the project specifications instead of a long text. A project map covers all questions related to a project in a visual form. The project mapping helps to clarify your Vision, the Resources needed and your Definition of Done.
WHY should you conduct an Opportunity Study?
When you have an idea, test it now or lose it! Especially when there is no money on the table, no expenses involved, it is the right time to stress-test an idea. Before spending any money on a project, make sure that you have clarify your vision, your objectives and how you are going to achieve them.
Your Concept + The Resources needed + your Definition of the Project done.
An Opportunity Study isn’t only useful in the case of a business project, you can use it for any research, experiment, development or learning endeavour. When your resources are scarce, it is essential to allocate them smartly.
Put your idea to the test! proceed to a short project stress-test, simply by questioning few key aspects of your idea and by exploring carefully an opportunity. Take a limited time, like a 5-Day Sprint, to visualise and clarify your project. Figure out the ways to evaluate your solution in terms of desirability, feasibility and viability. Keep your questioning simple!
Project Mapping 1: What? Who? Where and When?
Keep Your Mapping Process Simple! Answer each question in few points. What are you offering? What is your Minimum Viable Product/Service? Narrow down your audience to the Minimum Viable Audience. What’s the project timeline? Where are you based?
BE SPECIFIC, POSITIVE AND PRAGMATIC
- WHAT are you looking to achieve? Key Activities in 4 bullets points to present it. Specifications. What’s IN + What’s OUT of the SCOPE.
- WHO is IN? Development Team. Sponsors. Partners.
- WHO is your MAIN TARGET AUDIENCE? NICHE down to your Minimal Viable Audience. WHO is OK to PAY for your Offer? Qualify your Audience: the User uses your service or product, the Client orders a service, the Customer purchases your products or services.
- WHERE are you planning to do it? Strategic criterias for the chosen location? Why this location? Issues, Threats related to this Specific Location
- WHEN? Are you looking to start? Preparation phase? Pre-launch? Launch? Post-Launch? Seasonality? Risks related to the Project Timing
- SWOT Analysis (or matrix) is a technique used to help identify Strengths, Weaknesses (from intrinsic attributes related to the organization) and Opportunities, Threats (extrinsic attributes related to the environment). It helps to look for a strategic fit with the market, develop what’s unique about it and adjust what’s possible to.
The Strengths are Internal attributes of the project, that give an edge. The Weaknesses are Internal attributes of the project, that represent a disadvantage.
The Opportunities are External Elements in the environment of the project that can be exploit to its advantage. The Threats are External Elements in the environment that represent risks or obstacles for the project. Do Your Due Diligence by conducting an environment scanning, identify competitors and potential partners, the trends, benchmark (pricing models and facts), use your network to investigate the competition… These elements will help build-up the Opportunities and Threats.
Be Street Smart… Look at Obstacles and Issues are unsolved Opportunities. Your Tactic Plan will look into matching some Strengths with Opportunities and converting Weaknesses to Strengths or Threats to Opportunities.
Project Mapping 2: Intersection of Desirability | Feasibility | Viability
Know Your Costs, Define How Much is Enough, Set a Development Plan
YOUR DESIRABILITY: Do you really want to develop this project? It’s not because you CAN do it that you WANT and have to do it. Are you ready for it? Do you understand all consequences and trade-off? Are you qualified for it? Do you know how to do this? Are you doing this alone? Who is part of the team? Do you need Sponsors?
DEMAND: WHO are you targeting? Customers? Clients? Users? Is there a real DEMAND? Are targeted people willing and able to pay for it?
Manifesto and Communication Plan: how-to express your vision, values and purpose and how-to share your message to your audience? I wrote a specific article on how-to draft a Project Manifesto.
FEASIBILITY: What do you plan to offer? Is it Feasible? What is required? What are the resources needed? Conditions? Dependencies? Identify potential solutions to investigate further. Is the Timing right? Is there a Seasonality? Know the risks you are taking. Be conscious of the obstacles on your way. What are the Issues, Frictions or Weaknesses that can be turned into opportunities? How do you plan to distribute your solution?
Project Operating Sytem: what is it? and how-to define one? I wrote a specific article on how-to set an Operating System.
ECONOMIC VIABILITY: key factors and conditions? Is the location optimal? Is the timing right? Costs? Revenue Streams? What is your Business Model? What is your Pricing Structure? Who are your competitors? What’s the competitive environment like? How much is enough? how-to keep it sustainable for the team and partners? Is it really such a good opportunity?
Optional Phase 3: Lean Canvas
Develop a light and agile project adopting a lean management approach
Similar to the Project Mapping approach, Lean Canvas presents in one page your business project with its key elements.You can see it as a one-page business model. More on Business Model Canvas.
Why I do mini Opportunity Studies? and Why I develop Project Mapping?
In order to develop an idea into a viable business project, you need to evaluate a lot of ideas!
Develop a lot of ideas: I simplified the initial phase of the process, so that you can iterate quickly and have fun doing so. Enjoy exploring an opportunity regardless of the outcome.
Memorising Ideas as Project Maps: Stop losing ideas. My intentions behind Project Mapping is to have a process to memorise ideas, visualise how they can be turned into a viable business. Sometimes the timing isn’t right, the technology isn’t available yet, I don’t have a viable business model for it… so I keep ideas in a visual form, so that later on I can go back on a project map and in few minutes record what was this idea about, explore it again, adjust the concept and maybe this time develop it further. Sometimes I simply cherry pick from previous project map a solution that can work in an other context.
Growing an Oasis of Ideas: I certainly don’t think that each idea worth being developed right away. Timing is key. Some are more like silent seeds to keep in the dark. Some are worth letting sprout and grow. Some are low hanging fruits to be catch now. Some are fruits who need time to ripe. Like in a oasis, diversity is key. All ideas are not equally viable but each serves a purpose. Wait patiently for their season to come. Grow a portfolio of ideas to diversify your revenue streams and to be more resilient during rough economic times.
Don’t hesitate to contact me via my web page kristofberg.com of you have any questions regarding The Project Mapping Method or this article.