The 5 P’s - Proper (Website) Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Mr Andrews. I’ll always remember him as my PE teacher at high school. He had an almost military style teaching approach to him. Everything had to be just so. Firm but fair.
He was also the head football coach for the boys town team who I was lucky enough to play for. We won many of the region’s top competitions which made him (and our parents) extremely proud. And he would always put his and our success down to one thing: Planning and Preparation.
He used to constantly remind us of The 5 P’s, a phrase originally coined by James Baker, President George H. W. Bush's former Chief of Staff:
Proper - Preparation - Prevents - Poor - Performance
Mr Andrews believed in The 5 P’s like his reputation depended on it. He’d teach us about the tactical theory of football which we all thought was a bit boring at the time, but it led to massive advantages over our opposition. We’d have several training sessions weekly, each one focussing on a specific element of our game. He’d work with us all individually and as a team to improve our positioning on the pitch as well as our fitness, strength and agility. There always seemed to be more going on off the pitch than on it.
Come game days he’d pull out the famous A-board. On one side was our opposition team report detailing their recent results, style of play, tactics and who their key players were that needed to be marked more closely. On the other side was our planned approach to the upcoming game and our strategy for breaking down the opposition and winning the match.
Mr Andrew’s analytical and meticulous approach to managing a young high school football team would have been nothing short of ridiculous had it not been for the fact we won a lot of games, sat top of the league for most of the season and won several trophies. We were all decent footballers but we were also a well organised and coordinated team that left nothing to chance. The manager knew exactly how to plan his team for success. And he always used to say to us on the bus on the way to games; “Tough team today lads but they won’t be as prepared as us… we can win this”. On occasions when we did lose the odd game, he’d tend to blame it on a lack of fitness or tactics more than the mistakes we made on the pitch that led to us conceding goals… “Always remember lads… proper preparation prevents poor performance” Yes, sir.
I often find myself thinking back to my footballing days and The 5 P’s whenever we’re in the very early stages of discussions with a business who are searching for an agency to help them develop a new website.
We hold a strong belief here at A Digital that strategic business-level conversations, project briefing workshops and thorough planning and preparation should all precede any design or development work if you are to end up with a high performing website. By missing out these critical stages of your website project, you’re likely to end up with a website that doesn’t solve the problem(s) that triggered you to take action in the first place. You could also be missing out on identifying other potential challenges that need to be considered or new ideas and solutions that could elevate your new website from being a functional marketing tool to a best-in-class asset to your whole business.
So before you start your next website project, have a ponder over some of these questions below and start gathering up relevant information from within your business to take into early discussions with your chosen web agency. Of course, this is just the beginning and there’ll be much more to explore together as you go through those critical early planning and preparation stages.
What data and analysis do you have available to help understand the behaviour of your website visitors?
How will a new website affect your internal processes and how could a new website improve on those?
What are your strategic goals for the website and how will it help you achieve wider business success?
Is there likely to be any 3rd party software or apps you use within your business that may need to be integrated with the website?
Exactly who are your customers and what are the problems they’re looking to solve in their businesses or personal lives?
Who will be involved in the project and who will be those responsible for promoting a more digitised culture within your organisation?
How will you keep people interested when people visit your website and how will the content you display be helpful to them?
Who will be responsible for creating content and who will be looking after the website once it’s launched to ensure longevity in its performance?
Last weekend, a friend of a friend and I were discussing his company’s website built by an agency from their local networking group. He told me their website has never really accurately reflected the type of clients they work with and doesn’t showcase the high standard of work they’ve become known for. He admitted the website has become so disconnected from the business that they disregard it as a tool with which to generate new project enquiries.
The website cost them £12,000 only 18 months ago and by his own admission, there wasn’t really any thought or in-depth discussions at the outset around what they wanted to achieve with the website, the type of content needed to attract and engage the right customers, how it could support their wider business processes and ultimately who within the company was going to lead their digital strategy. Unfortunately, they now see it as an expensive write-off as a result of poor planning and will inevitably require further time and financial investment to turn things around.
Unfortunately there are many other similar situations like that where, for whatever reason, a website becomes isolated from other marketing and business activities because it simply doesn’t perform, or never has.
As Mr Andrew’s always said.. "Proper preparation prevents poor performance”
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