“A Bridge Too Far” is the title of a book and a movie filmed in 1977. The film and book provide a 1944 account of the unsuccessful attempt of the Allied forces during WWII to out-flank the German troops during Operation Market Garden. A difference of views on the success of the mission exists, but the leader of the Allied forces on the mission implied the mission was not a success. The mission failure was partly due to the inability to hold the Arnhem road bridge. As rumor has it, one of the generals suggested the effort was a bridge too far, meaning they went further than rear-supporting infrastructure would support them.
Developing a business is like fighting a battle. It requires development of appropriate infrastructure. The timings and meshing of all activities must support the drive forward. Failure to meet a critical milestone or initiate an important effort can dramatically affect progress. This is part of the reason that project planning is so critical to your business.
One excellent example of the critical role of project planning comes in the development of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. In pharmaceutical development, project planning is ESSENTIAL. Clinical development can take more than 5 years with costs ranging from $20 - $500M. The FDA regulates all drugs and their approvals. The FDA requires that submissions for approval include the manufacturing data for commercial supply. This includes demonstration that the commercial supply works properly as demonstrated by data collected in the final phases of drug development.
Manufacturing of a drug and scaling up the process can take significant time. In some cases, the timings for the scale-up are a few years. The matching of the manufacturing and clinical development timings are essential if the company wants to incorporate the drug made by the scaled-up process into the final phase of the clinical development: a necessity since the data is ESSENTIAL to an approval by the FDA.
The marketing of a drug must be consistent with the FDA approved claims for that drug. For claims to match the marketing efforts, design of all clinical studies must support the demonstration of the drug ability to perform as claimed. This means that all clinical study designs lead to the demonstration that the data proves the claims are valid. Failure to match the data to the claims will result in an inability to market the product in an appropriate manner. The whole business process in the pharmaceutical area requires a serious match up of timings and development of supporting infrastructure. Failure to plan and properly support each activity can lead to delays, failed approvals, poor marketing data, failed product launches, and more.
Similarly, technology companies must plan their efforts and ensure the proper infrastructure is available to support development and marketing. There may be differences in regulatory structures, manufacturing, and marketing, but the matching of each phase of the business is essential to proper development. It is essential that as the leader and founder of your company that you develop parallel efforts and overlay them to ensure a match of all phases leading to the final product. Then develop proper infrastructure and support to ensure their success. Otherwise, you risk going “A Bridge Too Far” and may fail to reach your goals!
Taffy Williams is the author of: Think Agile: How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon