Everyone is talking about the volatility of the business environment, as technology, globalization, and economics keep businesses trying to just keep pace with changes, much less prosper. Everything is changing, and that means a 5-year strategic business plan is probably outdated within a few months of completion.
Changing Along with the Business Environment
Once considered the platinum planning model, the long-term strategic plan needs regular revisiting to make sure it is adapting along with the external business environment. A quarterly review is more appropriate because it keeps you focused on the mission, goals, and strategies for business growth. It is a way to ensure that:
• Strategic efforts maintain context within the broader business environment
• Focus is well placed for the next three months
• Time is allotted for strategy realignment
• Managers are given regular opportunities to input unique perspectives
For quarterly strategic business planning success, there are some “golden rules” you can follow. One is to make sure enough time is allocated so it does not turn into a rote and tedious process. Anyone involved in the review needs to concentrate on the task at hand, and that is nearly impossible when managers and supervisors are asked to fit the additional process into an already full schedule.
A better approach is to set aside time for meeting and locate the meeting away from the work unit. Some businesses will choose a location away from the business site to stimulate innovative thinking.
Following are some more suggestions for ensuring your strategic business planning review process is successful from quarter to quarter:
• Never skip a review session – Skipping a session means it is six months before strategy is analyzed and another three months before it is known if any changes made are effective. Stay on the three month track for greatest effectiveness and best results.
• Streamline the process – If the quarterly review process is viewed mostly as a work burden, the participants in the review session will begin to resent the process and are not likely to put their best effort into it. It is important to streamline reporting, develop informative presentation templates, and give people a simple way to input information into a program ahead of a time. Thanks to technology, it is possible to meet online via webinars or using meeting software to minimize travel requirements.
• Make sure prior quarter realignment is working – The quarterly review session should begin with a review of the previous quarter results and strategic realignments made in the prior quarter. It is impossible to move ahead if the past decisions are not driving the business towards meeting strategic goals.
• Evaluate workload requirements – As business strategies are realigned, it is common for some managers to end up with an increased time commitment for implementing the changes. When strategies are changed, identify the specific impacts on business units and managers, making sure they can realistically meet the requirements. Workloads may need to be adjusted to free up management time.
• Allocate adequate resources – Any changes made during the quarterly review will require a new commitment of resources – talent, money, time, technology, training and development, and knowledge. Failing to allocate adequate resources is a common reason strategic implementations fail.
• Set a calendar for next three months – Be sure to establish touchpoints for reviewing progress over the three months.
Staying On Course
The quarterly business planning process can keep an organization on course. An annual business plan sets the pace for the year, but it should be a “living” document. The quarterly business planning process gives the annual plan life, ensuring the business grows and thrives as circumstances change.
Getting the business planning process right is critical, and OGS Capital can help. The experienced business professionals work closely with managers needing assistance with formulating and analyzing business strategies. Complete the online OGS Capital contact form to connect with a business plan consultant.
Illustrative business plan samples
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