It"s a pleasure to watch as an observer how businesses are growing. Still, there are a few that think about the roadmap to success, from where it all begun and which were the first steps that led to success.
Today we know as a fact that, before starting a new project, no matter the industry, there is need for a plan. In most fields, the business plan is most used. More recently, in the software industry the term of POC appeared.
According to Wikipedia, a POC (proof of concept) is defined as the achievement of methods or ideas in order to demonstrate its feasibility. In some cases this takes the form of a prototype which provides information about the future of the project, identify needs, outlines the main characteristics and presents risks.
POC concept quickly gained trust in engineering and software industry and is appreciated both by the client and contractor as it allows the stakeholders to roughly estimate the effort, and what needs to be done and what resources are needed. A POC involves a mix of strategies such as characteristics, price, market, branding and business model.
As reported by Marius Ghenea in an interview during Business Days, business sites that he invests his money in must be validated in the market. "It is essential to have a proof- of- concept, which means a certain validation that can be done in the beginning, before the product or service is put on the market. This validation can be made with focus groups, beta -testers, pilot projects, limited commercial tests, other testing market. If the market does not validate the business concept, we do not have good premises for the future business, even if the idea seems spectacular and unique business. "
In a software project there is a frequent need to demonstrate the functionality before starting the development itself. Moreover, there is no surprise that more investors and business angels like the idea of POC instead of a classic business plan.
Wayne Sutton , blogger at The Wall Street Journal claims the same truth in his article " Do not Need No Stinking " Business Plan ". The argument would be that starting a new business is much easier than 15 years ago and compares the business plan with the waterfall method of software development, which is quite obsolete.
Everything must be fast, " lean ", learning all the time with the clients you serve. A true entrepreneur should always involve his clients, make use of his experience in everyday life as much as possible. The author refers exclusively to start- ups in the IT industry and the classic businesses are put aside.
Since the business environment in Romania is still developing and we are moving on with baby steps, the business plan still remains an important point of reference for young entrepreneurs.
This being said, I would mention some important documents for a tech start- up:
Use Cases - who the customers are and how they use the product / service
Sales Plan - what, how, where, how and who will sell your product / service
Human resources - ensuring business continuity even if people leave the firm
Cash flow - how much money is needed and when
Another issue that is worth mentioning is what I noticed about young entrepreneurs. At first start, it"s hard for them to distinguish between core -business (main activity) and other additional activities or support they need to make.
In a start- up it is hard to determine the main functions that must satisfy a system and additional functions. However, it is vital for the success of the business to make a list of all the possible features of the future system, then prioritize and divide them into primary and secondary features.
All features encapsulated as use cases help the entrepreneur to stick to his initial plan.
I will continue speaking about the use cases as I consider them relevant to tech start -ups.
Use cases are a way to use a system to achieve the specific goal for a specific user. For example, a user logged on Amazon wants to be able to pay with credit card whenever he buys something. This can be seen as a goal that needs to be reached: As a logged user on Amazon, I want to pay with my credit so that I can buy whatever I want.
The sum of goals make up a set of use cases that shows the way in which a system can be used and also shows the business value for the customers.
The book "Use- Case 2.0 The Guide to succeeding with Use Cases" written by Ivar Jacobson, Ian Spence, Kurt Bittner presents the development based on use cases in a very affordable and practical way.
Use cases can be used in the development of new businesses, in which case all the business are associated with the system. The system is implementing the requirements and is the subject of the use case model. The quality and level of completion of the system is verified by a set of tests. The tests are designed to verify the implementation of the slices, if the use cases was a success or not.
Going in further detail about how to use the use cases, I think everyone is already familiar with the concept of user stories. These "stories" are the link between stakeholders, use cases and parts of use cases. This way to communicate the requirements for the new system is widely used because it helps identifying the basic parts that have to be implemented for a basic functional system. When describing a business idea, the best way to tell the others what it"s about begins with " I want to make an application which allows users to control smartphones from taxi through an application that can be installed on Android and iOS".
I conclude here my short introspection into new business development analysis mentioning that without a clear idea and a structured plan, the odds of having a successful project are limited.
Whether you start from a classic business plan, make use of POC or you reach a prioritized list of use cases for the new system, planning every step must be made carefully.
Every entrepreneur has to act with responsibility as to avoid all known risks.
2. Use-Case 2.0 The Guide to Succeeding with Use Cases, Ivar Jacobson, Ian Spence, Kurt Bittner
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