Part II: How Can My Investment Group Implement A Successful Business Project? Critical Knowledge for successful business management.

By Philip Koitelel, 10th January 2015

“We are a group of ten women contributing five thousand and five hundred shillings each per month, but we need more skills to effectively manage our financial resources.”  Peninah Parsitau

Under Part I of this blog series, I introduced key concepts of commonly shared vision, leveraging of current financial resources, examples of business project ideas and required group dynamics management capacity. Under Part II below, I explore the 8 critical concepts or required business knowledge for successful business project management.

8 critical concepts you need to grasp for successful business project management.
All group members and especially the group leaders need to have at least some basic knowledge, and skills about business project management and effective business attitudes and values. This involves business and product cycle management including business project ideation:

Identification:  where there is need or want for a particular product or service by a significant number of a particular group of people there is business opportunity.  An enterprising person or group of people get to see such an opportunity and initiate thinking and discussion on the business idea formulation.  At this stage, the business idea is still mundane and needs to be tested, crystallized and tested for viability.

Beta Testing: Once the group/organization has strong reason to further invest time and resources in developing the business idea, the beta version of the product or service can be tested with a few people, normally about 100 to 500 covering close categories of potential clients within certain time and budget limits.  The feedback from this test group can then be captured inform of statistical and narrative data and analyzed to draw out viable recommendations for improvement, categorizations and final product/service development.

Design: based on the pilot test results, the group can then design winning products and or services to be launched and offered to the greater and niche market based on their preferences.

Planning: as the product/service prototype is being tested and designed, the business idea owners need to do a strategic business plan, for at least 3 years and an annual operational plan for the next 12 months outlining the baseline situation analysis, proposed implementation and distribution strategy, sales targets for each product/service line, distribution site and entire branch network. The plans should be as realistic as possible and initially based on market trends and pilot test results.

Organization:  The organization leadership should have a clear organization structure strategy outlining reporting, communication and distribution linkages.  The structure should be as less bureaucratic as possible (flat) and flexible enough to change as dictated by market realities and trends. The board or executive management to effectively allocate human, technical, financial and logistical resources across the structure to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in execution of the operations plan and strategies.

Implementation: once top management is recruited and the business administration systems (rules/policies, operational guidelines, technology core logistics) have been set up, the right number and right quality of staff should be hired, effectively oriented and deployed to execute their roles in their business stations or units and across locations. Each unit should, in close consultation with top management develop their own performance plan directly drawn from and linked to the overall business strategy and operations performance plan.

Monitoring, Evaluation Research and Development: Needless to say, no business has ever grown or survived without closely monitoring the performance of its products/services and continuously looping client feedback on its products/services to its product research and development department or unit for needed action.  Client feedback and close monitoring of market trends will ensure that your business is never caught by undesirable surprises. Client and market feedback is captured in the form of short satisfaction surveys, sales/consumer data analysis, sector policy and market trend analysis and even full market analysis studies. The business should develop a real learning culture where staff and departmental reports are actually analyzed and recommendations put to practice. The business organization should incorporate its staff in this process but outsource extensive and time demanding MERD efforts to external experts to free up staff time and efforts for normal daily business activities.

Closeout or scale up: Every product or service has a life cycle with various stages and requires that after the last stage is arrived at, it should either be closed out/retired or renewed through re-branding, relaunching and value-added using a variety of optional business practices. This can be done in the same, new or multiple markets.

While useful, it is not a must for members of the group to possess college or university education to get to understand these business project management concepts. A good facilitator can interpret and simplify these concepts so that they can effortlessly understand them.

A business project is basically a series of business activities and actions around these concepts that need to be planned, designed, organized and implemented with the above concepts in mind within a stipulated budget and period.

Implementation of the key business and product development activities need to be continually monitored and evaluated at key periodic intervals to ensure they are on course as planned and lessons learnt ploughed back to improve on the business and its product or service offerings. The business project period can for example be; 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. 

In Part III of this series, I will be talking about the 9 key skills and 5 values and attitudes necessary for successful business project management.

Philip Koitelel is Principal Consultant at Aztramade Consulting Ltd

Twitter: @olesitau
Tel: 0733477475/ 0722466060