Business Plan Template
the Why-What-Who-When-How model
After some 20 years implementing Project Management methodology, improving Business Processes and building Information Systems, I have created my own Business Plan Template.
The four Pillars: People, Projects, Products, Processes
Do you know what is Feng-Shui? This ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of houses to achieve welfare of the people who live in (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui). If so, you will see some similarity between this model and the Bagua map of the Feng-Shui.
The corners of this Business house are defined by the key management areas of People, Projects, Products and Processes.
Why ? Everything related with your business can be linked with one of these major discipline. Not convinced ?Wait a moment, please.
Pay a visit to this Business Home:
Supported by the 4 pillars management areas, Projects, Products, Processes & People, you find the rooms of Strategy, Knowledge Management, Market Intelligence, Costs and Time Management.
The Customer Facade: Projects, Products and Market Intelligence.
Take the word "project" in broad sense: any order from a customer. A project is the materialization of the contractual relation between a customer and a provider, when offer meets the demand.
The Learning Facade: People, Process and Knowledge Management.
Business Knowledge Management is a twofold exercise:
- Taking profit of the Individual Knowledge that each Person brings with him/er
- And balancing it with the collective knowledge accumulated in the Business Processes
The Effectiveness Facade: People, Projects and Time Tracking.
- Time: the more limited resource in a company (and in the life)
- Coach your team with time saving techniques: one of the more profitable investment initiatives
- Project Management: a best practice oriented to get things done in time
The Efficiency Facade: Products, Processes and Cost Saving.
- Define standard products in order not to reinvent the wheel for each customer
- Work on your Process to make the better use of your Resources
Strategy & Goals setting:Don't forget the Roof
- To keep all the building stronger and secure
- Use a balanced scorecard approach
Balanced is the keyword in this model as for any Business Management Template or Business Management Styles. None of the four pillars should be ignored.
May be the house can stay firm sometime with three of them, but surely not with only two.
Is the Four Pillars model applicable to any businesses ?
Since I mind map this business model some years ago, I try to see how it match with the reality. I have not seen any incompatibility with the business I know so far, whatever small, medium or big ones.
You are not sure that this model apply to your company?
You think it is only applicable to some specific businesses?
Just two examples to check it :
Take a fast food restaurant:
- People: the employees and the clients
- Product: the different ingredients and meals
- Process: the sequence of operations for a quick service
- Project: each order placed by a client should be treated as a project
Now, this web site:
- People: You and me
- Product: the content put on this site
- Process: the CTPM process from http://www.sitesell.com
- Project: when you entered this web site, I suppose that you have someone in mind! Isn't true?
Try it with your company, I am sure that you will identify its four pillars.
The history of the "Four Pillars" Business model
The Project era
Some years ago, I got the occasion to participate to the starting phase of a small company in the Space industry, defining methodology and procedures for Project Management. Then, I was called to assume Responsibility of the Information Systems Department in the same enterprise.
My first objective was to provide Project Managers with the best solutions to support this major process (the Project Management is very often, more in Space, a leading process in the launching phase of a business when looking for effectiveness).
This was the time of an in house Project Monitoring and Control software and Work-flow solutions to track project driven activities. The power was in the Programs Department who had the control of the profitability. The Company was working more as a confederation of Projects (like profit centers) using common resources rather than an Enterprise.
The Product era
This approach was giving results during the beginning phase of the Company when the Project Managers were the Heroes. But, with the pressure of the market for more competitive solutions, the company decided a strategy more oriented to efficiency. It was time to build a product portfolio and trying to reuse technology and know-how from a project to another, taking profit of the heritage acquired.
The implementation of an Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) was the natural IS answer to support this new strategy, increasing efficiency by centralizing some functions like Purchasing and Production. Obviously, with the resistance from the former Heroes.
The Process era
But changing the Information System, you don't change nothing if the Processes are not consequently adapted to the new strategy. Even, the cure can be worst than the disease.
So, in parallel, some kind of Process Re-engineering was seen necessary to define the new relations between the Projects Managers and the Product Areas with the objective to get benefits from both: Effectiveness & Efficiency.
The People era
Working on Business Processes, you rapidly discover that change management requires collaboration of the Persons who have to implement it, the Workforce. When you decide to manage your Business by Processes (not the same as managing processes), one of the first actions is to build a strong network of Processes Owners, with the same level of power than the Project Managers or the Product Owners.
And to close the loop, you have to make Projects teams apply the new processes, procedures and tools. That is time to dedicate to Communication, People motivation & coaching.
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