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.