Just the mention of “plan” sends a shiver up some peoples’ back… why? I think that it’s because some people think that if they create the plan, they HAVE TO complete it… and they can NEVER change it.

I don’t know who wrote that rule, and whoever did needs to take a vacation.

PLAN (as defined by dictionary.com): A proposed or tentative project or course of action. The “key word” in that definition is “proposed”… Not “set in stone”, not “unchangeable,” but proposed. What do you think you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be? START! After a little while, reassess and reevaluate…

Are you on-track, are you off-track? Do you need to revisit the plan? Do you need to adjust some of the dates, or the estimated costs, or how many people you think you will need to complete it? DO IT.

Without a clear objective for your information technology environment, you are subject to one of several bad situations. You could be using old technology, and hurt productivity and efficiency; you could be in the “gotta have the latest and greatest” trap where new technology grabs your attention and your pocketbooks. You could also be missing opportunities because the technology does not match the business need.

Now regardless of the type of company, or the products or services offered, you will be always be subject to the three constraints of a project; time, money, and resources. And when I speak of a project during this call, I’m speaking about a plan to bring in any piece of technology, or any change to your IT environment, that either requires more than one action, or will require support while being used by the business. These three constraints will define how the project plan is laid out. With unlimited funds, or unlimited resources, or unlimited time, the project plan differs. So to with limitations of any one of the three constraints, the project plan changes.

So how do we begin to create the project plan? We define our clear objective, fundamental number one.  So for example,  if we were discussing your website, I would ask: How many visitors are expected to visit? Are those website visitors going to be shopping? Do you need a shopping cart? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Are you going to want them to be able to use an interactive map to find your location? Do you want the website to promote your businesses, or have affiliate links to other businesses? Will the website design match your business marketing material that you already have? Or will your current marketing material change as a result of your new website?

These are just a few examples of questions that I would ask clients as they begin down the road of creating a site for their small business.

Now, while very few things are impossible technologically, the three constraints we spoke of before, time, money, and resources, are all used when decisions are changed based on new information after a direction has already been chosen. What I mean by this is that if you start down the road of creating a purely informational website for your customers, a place for them to go and read all about you, and read all about your products, and then later you decide that you want to integrate a shopping cart, a newsletter, and an interactive page for your clients to view your physical location some really big work will need to be done. Also, choosing a color scheme and graphic theme for your website, designing a few pages, and then choosing a different font, or color scheme, will require rework on the pages already created.

Creating a clear objective before you begin will allow you to move forward and make the most efficient use of your time money and resources.

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