Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finished on time, on plan, on budget

    I've been writing about my "Confusion II" project for what seems like months now. The project involves a small marketing test which I hope will lead to a larger opportunity. I had written that the launch would occur mid-January. The program launched yesterday -- on time, on plan, and on budget.

    After pulling the trigger, so to speak, I noticed that, to date, the program has moved along smoothly with no trauma, no unexpected expenses, and no last minute discovery of an unanticipated blockade.

    I believe this "on time, on plan, on budget" was the result of three factors and I would like to share something about them with you.

    First, the SIZE of my project was strictly controlled. My plan called for the production of a small number of bottles. (This could easily be scaled up in the future.) I made as much use as possible of materials I already had on hand, many left over from other projects. Development time, from conception to finished bottles, took just over two months -- as planned.

    Timing was set to avoid the Christmas holiday shopping season, which now runs from mid-November through the end of Decembe and thus the scheduling of the mid-January launch date. For this fragrance, trying to sell into the holiday season would NOT have been an advantage.

    The quantity of bottles I produced was large enough for me to test my marketing concept -- but no larger. In other words, my test was as small as I could make it but not so small that I wouldn't be able to make projections from the data I captured.

    Next, the project was broken up into a number of very simple steps, as per the original plan. This resulted in checklists for the development of the fragrance, the development of a marketing "event," and the development of the marketing program itself.

    Each step on the checklist was clear and simple -- count the number of caps available, count the number of bottles available, check whether there is enough perfumer's alcohol on hand or whether more will be needed, and so on. When each task is accomplished, it is checked off.

    Finally, each step was given a completion date. For the fragrance compound, a month was allowed for it to age and another month for mixing thoroughly after alcohol was added. Producing a label design took only an hour or so but it too received a deadline.

    If, in setting a completion date for an item, you find yourself unsure how long that particular step will take, it's time to examine that step for the possibility that you might not UNDERSTAND what it requires. Studying that step, you may discover that you can understand it better by breaking it down into several smaller steps. Remember, you're doing all your preliminary planning on paper, which is cheap. Getting stuck in the middle of an ongoing project can cost you money you shouldn't have to spend.

    Setting deadlines forces you to think very carefully about every little detail that your project will require. The more attention you give these details before you get started, the smoother your project will go once you do get started.

    That my "Confusion II" project has gone smoothly I attribute to the planning, the planning that was done before I "went into action."

    Now, having launched, I can start tracking my results.



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