Make your mistakes early and cheap!

Take too long to deliver and you've missed that crucial window of opportunity!
Someone else gets to market with a competing product and again you've missed the boat!

This is where we can learn from today's entrepreneurs...

*** Make your mistakes early and cheap ***

(Featuring: Five easy steps to consider when planning your next deliverable ;-)

Last year we had a brand spanking new product to launch for a rather large internet start-up that sought to combine three major technologies; Mobile, IM and VOIP. The sheer volume of assumptions we were relying on made management very nervous. Their (quite natural) response was to consider extending the deadlines and increase quality control. Luckily, we managed to convince them to support our, seemingly counter intuitive, approach...
By thinking like a garage start-up we aimed to capture the essence of the business model in a cheaper and simpler solution. We found we were able to gain faster access to the revenue, drastically reduce the time to deliver and minimize the associated risk exposure. We planned several incremental releases that would respond to the feedback captured on the fly. This enabled us to maximize the revenue streams and easily ramp up the complexity. Working closely with these entrepreneurs gave me the idea for this post:

Here are five easy steps to applying the entrepreneur's lesson to your next project:

Step 1) Analyze the core requirement that your deliverable is addressing.
This is very much about WHAT your deliverable is trying to achieve as oppose to HOW. The answer will give you greater flexibility when generating pilot options.

Step 2) Conceptualize a Pilot version of your deliverable that meets this requirement.
As a rule of thumb, aim to scale the solution down to about 25% of the original budget.

Step 3) Plan to pilot this release to a select set of target users.
Identify and engage your customers early. Prepare them for the release and how they can best help out. Make sure you establish several ways for them to communicate with your team.

Step 4) Set-up your development resources to respond quickly to feedback.
Make sure your own team is setup to capture and manage the changes in the following releases.

Step 5) Start planning a series of releases as required.
Be ambitious with your delivery dates. Constantly re-prioritize the tasks to maintain alignment with the overall requirement. Think Triage! Follow this up with a schedule of release dates and commit to them publicly.

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