There are many guidelines about what should be in a business plan. Each organisation will probably have something that it uses year after year. As a result, each example will vary in its ability to describe effectively how the company's targets can be met.

Whatever the format of the business plan, a common starting point is needed. It should be possible to express the business plan as a series of statements that both summarise the content and help to identify projects. The following list, which took no more than an hour to compile, is a summary of a real organisation's wordy business plan. The company will:

e retain its most important clients; e win new clients;

e secure recurring revenues rather than one-off fees; e further its alliance partnerships; e deliver increased revenue; e deliver increased margins; e become number one in its marketplace; e undertake short-term, high-yield projects; e deliver a wider range of products; e reduce its implementation timescales; e reduce its implementation costs; e deliver minimum maintenance products; e engage in fixed-price or shared-risk initiatives; e prioritise and justify every initiative it undertakes; e have market-leading product quality and testing processes; e use cutting-edge product implementation processes; e manage its projects using repeatable, proven principles and techniques; e use new and innovative technologies; e provide opportunities to help retain experienced staff;

e apply lessons learned from experience; e attract and develop junior staff; e increase the gap between itself and its competitors.

This may seem a random set of statements drawn from a document. It may be true that the business plan lacks focus or may fail across a range of success criteria. So before identifying projects that can contribute to its success, the business plan should be balanced.

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