Though blueprint means different things in different industries, the most common definition or analogy that people generally use is that of a house. When you are building your dream home, you will make sure that you plan what is coming where. The master bedroom, kids room, guest bedroom, dining area, kitchen, living room, wash rooms, utility, home theatre and other specific areas are designed on a piece of paper well in advance. This typically happens few months even before the construction actually starts. You go into minute details like what kind of bricks to use, cement, concrete, iron, its size, etc.We used to do the exact same thing when we launched advanced Data Warehouse solutions at Teradata a decade ago. The fundamental aspect that we need to take extreme care is the Logical Data Model (the software blueprint used in designing or structuring the data). Unless the corporates get this straight, they wouldn’t be able to make any use of the fancy data warehouse. We spent months and years explaining the importance of a blueprint to our prospective clients (hopefully the clients have matured by now). Mapping the relation between different data points is extremely important similar to how you design a common wall between the living room and the bed room, kitchen and the utility, etc.

We found it difficult to explain this to few clients because, they would compare it with a software that can be configured as and when there were changes. So we figured out that there has to be a better and an easier way to explain this to clients. We made this analogy to explain, especially to the non-technical users:

“It is very similar to the way you wear your clothes. When you go for a 2-day business trip, you carry a pair of additional formals apart from the one that you are wearing. You may add a pair of nightwear, a jogging short and shoes if you would like to go for an early morning jog. This is how you plan your trip. Your spouse generally adds a formal shirt just in case you might extend your trip by half a day. Similarly, if you go for a 10-day trip, you design your clothes accordingly. And if you go on a family vacation, the type of clothes may vary, so on and so forth.”

Why is blueprint important?

A blueprint is an integral part of the foundation. Be it a house, or a trip, joining your child in a school, chasing your passion, closing a sales deal, hiring an employee, or even before your start a company. It can be used for a lot of things and for almost anything. That’s precisely why it’s very important. Secondly, if you like to live in that home for the next 10 to 15 years, it should make a lot of sense to spend time on designing a near-perfect blueprint right? Exactly. When you want to hire a senior resource, you might as well spend a little time designing a blueprint on whom to hire, what would he/she do, how to hire, his/her KRAs, the support team, budget for that hire, etc. If companies take this effort, I don’t think there would be a bad hire ever. So would be the case with an entrepreneur who is at the verge of taking that plunge. You need to know what you are getting into, revenue model, team, target segment, research, market potential, etc.

The beauty of a blueprint is that it takes care of aspects of both the foundation and the futuristic goals of that project/activity. For example, if you want to build a 3 storey building, you design a specific typr of foundation. And the type of foundation completely changes when you plan to buld a 50 storey building. When you intend to hire a senior resource for a temporary role, your blueprint varies compared to a permanent hire (even though the seniority of the person is same). For a startup, this is extremely useful and powerful because this can give you the vision and clarity from bottom to top. How big is your idea, what kind of resources do you need, what kind of people can fit to be on the board, the expertise, location, investment, product features, service offerings, etc. The blueprint here might vary in case if you want to offer services on a recurring model viz outright purchase. Offer services to just the local clients, instead of opening to the entire world, etc. You all it a business blueprint or a business model.

In spite of planning everything in advance, we still fail at times. It could be due to our inability to think ahead, or a drastic change in plan due to some external or unknown reasons, or poor execution, or it could also be that your idea must be ahead of time. I am sure that some of you have started relating to your previous experiences! My final comments would be, ‘If you fail to plan, you have just planned to fail.’