The Business Planning series will posted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of September 2011.
The grand scheme of business planning seems to suggest a regular examination of the company and setting of goals. It is not unusual to start the process and abort planning because of time, lack of information or the sheer size of the task. How do you attack planning?
The most successful companies I have dealt with understand that you cannot eat the elephant in one bite, you have to start somewhere. Here are a few suggestions.
Before you start, select five areas where you would like to plan changes to your company. These might be production, revenue, process or development driven. Once selected, ask yourself the following questions related to each.
- Why do I want to make the change?
- What is the benefit of making the change?
- Is it worth the effort and priority?
- Who will the change impact?
- What can I do as a result of making this change?
- Do I have the money, people, information and processes in place to make the change?
- Who should be involved in writing the plan relative to the change desired?
- Do I have the control needed to make the changes?
- What outside factors could impact my ability to achieve the desired change?
- Can I either utilize outside factors to propel the change or make modifications considering these factors to make the desired changes?
- Am I willing to commit to the time necessary to develop the plan?
- How will I get others to own the plan and the results we create?
The answers to these questions for each of the five areas will give you a good foundation for beginning the planning process. In some cases, you will find that five may be too many and rarely too few. Remember Newton’s laws mentioned in yesterday’s post, Crunch Time, any changes you make will create other changes. So five key points are really many related changes.
Next, once you set the five objectives, quantify them as to the impact they will make. All business plan objectives at some point reduce to numbers.
After that, with your team, define a strategy to which your tactics will be aligned. Too many in the business planning process define tactics before strategy and find that they are aiming with a shotgun when a sharpshooter will gain better results and usually with less cost.
Finally, determine interim points to inspect the plan and the progress toward objectives. This is very important rather than waiting until next year’s planning session. All successes along the way deserve celebration and communication. The celebration can be as simple as a status report with kudos to those making it happen, to milestone and team rally celebrations. If interim objectives are not being met, consider how you will triage and amend your course.
Whether or not your company creates a full business plan, having five key objectives will give you momentum, focus and a greater opportunity to meet all goals.