Have you ever started a project, campaign or redesign in your online busi­ness only to find that halfway through it, most of the factors that influ­enced your deci­sions have changed?  Or maybe your competi­tor came out with a great new product or campaign and you need to change course to keep up?

In the world of online busi­ness, things change expo­nen­tially faster than they did in a purely brick-and-mortar envi­ron­ment.  Start­ing a new project is excit­ing and promis­ing, but assum­ing that all else remains equal can be detri­men­tal.  If you don’t factor in time and resources to be flex­i­ble, your project will be doomed from the start.

Robin Neifield’s ClickZ article yester­day mentions “Broken Clock Syndrome”, which is a great way to think about this problem.  Sure, even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Your project plan may seem on target depend­ing on when you look at it, but you have to contin­u­ously re-eval­u­ate where you are in rela­tion to other influ­en­tial factors, such as your indus­try, your part­ners, your busi­ness prior­i­ties, etc.  For example, if your upcom­ing site redesign involves a snazzy home­page with great Flash bells and whis­tles, but then Apple announces their mobile devices will not support Flash while Google Analyt­ics shows 15% of your traffic as mobile … would you continue with the same plan?  Perhaps recon­sider the home­page, or create a mobile-opti­mized expe­ri­ence?

Here at Search Discovery, we plan for formal­ized project/campaign eval­u­a­tions at least every 6 months, not just to assess perfor­mance to date but also to deter­mine if the goals still make sense and if we need to make any modi­fi­ca­tions to the roadmap.  In between those check­points, moni­tor­ing indus­try trends and doing peri­odic compet­i­tive bench­marks are always a prior­ity.  Staying on top of these changes, not only in your indus­try but in your customers’ pref­er­ences, is crit­i­cal to your success.