One of our previous blogs covered the 10 factors to consider when setting up a business growth program. From this list, the Scoping phase plays a vital role as it directly impacts the project’s success. Although it is the shortest phase, it’s where mistakes are most often made.
Either it gets rushed, the wrong people are involved, the wrong questions are asked or key assumptions about the business are missed. Consequently, I have come to rely on a specific set of questions when scoping new projects. They bring me 80% towards the finish line in terms of obtaining enough information to allow the project to be designed and planned. The remaining 20% come from focussed discussions with stakeholders.
Answering the questions only takes an hour or two, however, it’s not about rushing to get to the right answer. I’ve learnt that it’s the time lag between asking questions and drawing conclusions that is important. Depending on the complexity of the project, I allow a time lapse of 2-3 weeks for reflection and discussion with the project leader and project sponsor before I’m confident we have a clear scope and we’re all on the same boat. During this time it’s not uncommon for new thoughts and options to come on the table.
The questions are listed below for a B2B project - I hope the are useful...
1. Why are you undertaking this business growth project? Is it: in response to competitors, is the current business running out of options, a leadership drive for new growth, the belief that a potential opportunity exists to leverage your competences in new ways, regulation, other?
2. What types of growth opportunities are you looking for?
a. incremental growth or higher risk/higher reward growth?
b. ambition size (£ in revenue or profit)?
c. realisable in what timeframe?
d. in existing or new markets / applications for your business?
e. also including quick wins?
3. Are there any specific types of markets / technologies / opportunities that should not be in scope?
4. How would you characterise the types of markets / application areas where you are most successful as a business?
5. Do you have initial thoughts on the candidate markets / applications where growth opportunities could exist for your business?
6. What shape and depth of detail are you expecting to see in the deliverables?
7. Are you expecting to achieve results organically or are acquisitions in scope?
8. What business / market risks are you unwilling to accept (today and in the future)?
9. Have similar growth initiatives been trialled in your business, what was the outcome?
Resourcing and budget
1. What business units will be involved; which geographies?
2. Do you envisage the participation of other businesses across the organisation?
3. Who is the project sponsor, project leader and core team members? What is their background? Have they previous experience in these types of projects? How much of their time is realistically available for this project?
4. What other resources can we occasionally draw on for support e.g. R&D teams, M&A team, etc?
5. What budget has been allocated as this will have a bearing on the approach and timeline?
6. Assuming the project is successful in identifying new business growth opportunities, what bandwidth is realistically available to take the opportunities forward? Is the budget and resource available for the next stages in the programme?
7. How many opportunities can the business realistically handle in its innovation pipeline?
1. What governance / reporting model would you like to have e.g. Steering Group composition, frequency of updates?
2. How can we run this project in an agile way while respecting your company’s reporting processes?
Once the information is available we are in a position to prepare the approach and project plan. I find value in iterating the plan twice with the client; maybe it’s the bit of Irish in me that likes “to be sure to be sure”, but it's important when planning a future growth programme for a company.
Other articles that may be of interest:
- 10 recommendations when setting up a group-wide revenue growth programme
- Using Ideation to populate a business strategy roadmap
For more innovation tips please visit: http://www.3inno.com/our-articles
Do you want to be more successful at innovation? I recommend the book Innovation Unplugged – helping managers prepare today’s business for future growth.
Director of 3inno