Think Backwards

The aim of planning is to work out what is required to make a product. Once the project is completed, hindsight will tell you all the answers to the key questions you should have asked at the start. But how do you get a handle on all these important questions before you begin?

A great trick here is to use pre-operative hindsight. Mock up the completed project in your mind, view it dispassionately, and then list the issues that will eventually arise. You probably have a good idea of the principal questions already, but here's a starter list:

1. What will the program do?

2. What are its benefits?

3. What hard evidence is there of a need for this program?

4. Is there any competition?

5. If competition exists, why will people want this product?

6. Who are the users and who are the buyers?

7. How many users and buyers are there?

8. How much will buyers pay?

9. How many potential users may be converted?

10. What new things will users need to be taught?

11. Do you have a complete synopsis of the program structure?

12. Is there a frame-by-frame storyboard of screen usage?

13. Is there a storyboard for startup and closedown?

14. What programming problems are foreseen?

15. How do you know you can solve them?

16. Which components can you buy in?

17. How many programmers are required?

18. What particular skills must the programmers have?

19. For how long will you need the programmers?

20. Is this program feasible?

21. What is the deadline for the launch?

22. What are the risks?

23. Do you have the development money?

24. Is this program potentially profitable?

25. In a sentence, what's your proposition to buyers?

You won't have answers to all these questions at the outset. However, you should gradually be able to fill them in as you obtain market soundings and your thinking develops. The aim of planning is to confront everything that is required to make your dream come true.

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