• Sam Decker

Every Program is a P&L

In my experience, when you’re trying to grow revenue as fast as possible with little time and resources, it’s important to think about the after-launch resources a program will take.


Think about any program or initiative as an ongoing P&L. The best projects will have sustaining value, like a business that has sustaining profits. In fact, you should first think about the projects that have a clear and direct impact on revenue or cost savings.


Can you answer the question: "This program/initiative will have an impact on our bottom line because…"


The biggest mistake in selecting programs is the unintended costs of sustainment. Usually things get set in motion that take human capital as part of the processes. And humans are typically the majority of expenses in a business. The ideal projects are those that are set in motion, sustain and/or grow in impact over time and require little resources to sustain. Many projects I’ve launched that got orphaned are those that required ongoing program management time and processes. If it was part of an existing process it was easier to absorb. Creating new processes, owners, measures, reporting, etc. and sustaining all of this is an investment – COGS and Opex in a P&L. Sometimes it’s worth it…but most of the time we underestimate the cost of sustainment.

So, look for the projects that can ‘blossom’ on their own. For example, customer created content is great because once you facilitate the interaction, each piece of content adds to the impact. However, an editorial program requires your own resources to maintain is a lot more cost to sustain (like this blog!). Obviously the bigger the impact on revenue, costs and margin is a consideration and may be worth sustaining costs. But if you evaluate a new program like an ongoing P&L before you start, determining the COGS and Opex vs. the revenue/margin benefit, you avoid high opoprtunity costs of your time and resources.