Business Planning can be a complex subject, just search the internet or Amazon on the subject and you will get more results than you care to review. But it doesn’t need to be difficult, and the results from good planning more than pay you back for the effort that goes into it.
But first – why do we need business planning?
Business planning is all about setting a clear path and works plan that we can work to over the course of a year. As the saying goes – “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
In any business environment it is far too easy to get side-tracked and lose focus on any number of issues or indeed opportunities that come our way. Business Plans can therefore be used to refocus your efforts and ensure that you are working towards your desired outcomes.
Business Planning is about execution of strategy – Business strategies are usually longer term high level plans and are essential, but they lack detailed planning and steps that the whole business can fully grab hold of – that’s where business planning comes in.
A good business plan will ensure that we have clear end-outcomes laid out for everyone, the steps that we need to take to deliver these outcomes and importantly ownership for these outcomes.
So how do we do business planning at vBridge?
Here at vBridge we base our business plans around our financial year, but we break it down into quarters. Every team member has a plan to work to each quarter – yes, every team member. Everyone in the team can view everyone else’s business plan, they are not kept secret and we actively encourage sharing of plans and where they are at. Our business planning is completed as follows:
This is where we set our business plans for the year, agree the desired outcomes, KPI’s and associated incentives. We complete this in late Feb and the planning occurs with the whole team. We also include a full review of the previous year, so this includes what went well, what went OK and what we need to do better on this year.
This occurs at the end of each quarter (June, September, December & March). This is about ensuring we set a rhythm of continual review and reset of our achievements, with the overarching goal of meeting all annual targets and plans.
Quarterly planning occurs with the whole team and will generally be a full-day exercise. We encourage robust conversation to ensure that no one is over committing themselves or anyone else.
These are generally within each team, so for example the Operations Team will get together either as a team, or 1 on 1 with their manager. This is the time to discuss hurdles and issues, and to ensure that we remove these so that we can achieve the quarterly plan.
This is an individual item to ensure that we are setting our week up for success and making time to complete the work that needs to be done to keep on track. This ties in nicely with our weekly Monday morning meet to discuss what everyone completed the week before and what they are focusing on for the week ahead.
We expect everyone to complete 100% of their annual and quarterly business plans. The most common reason for non-completion is being overly ambitious with what team members think that they can achieve in each quarter. The 100% completion target is about our team getting better at planning and being realistic about what we can achieve – its not about trying to get more blood out of the stone.
For us here at vBridge this has led to a common sense of achievement each quarter and gives us clear outcomes to achieve with an easy to view time horizon. By planning together upfront we can identify dependencies and ensure that we are not leaving people stuck with no way to move forward as they are waiting on others for example.
So this works for us, and maybe it will for you as well – but the most important thing is to actually make your plans and stick to them – sure they might need to change at times, but that’s where regularly reviewing them helps out.