I was Wrong About Business Planning!
Anyone who knows me knows I am big on planning. Whether it be workforce planning, running a conference, managing a business, my next holiday, or whatever.
I once held a view that planning for Australian businesses should follow a strict cycle of plan annually in May, update your budget accordingly for the next FY and go for it.
I was wrong!
I now hold the view that it does not matter when you do your planning so long as you actually do it and you refresh it at least every six months but preferably every quarter. The world and the business environment is so dynamic now that it is no longer appropriate to have a long time between planning reviews. With technology and its application in business rapidly evolving you just cannot sit still any more. You need to be constantly looking ahead.
After many years of hands on business planning I also now hold the view that there is enormous value in having third party involvement. When I was in accounting firms I did quite a bit of facilitation of planning days and was good at it. And yet, on the occasions when we used a third party it felt like we got more out of it. Why? Because myself and the other leaders could be fully immersed in thinking about the business rather than the process of the planning day/s.
July and August are great months to put aside a day or two for the leaders of the business to reflect on the FY just finished and plan for a prosperous future. You’ve got the full year results for FY16 – learn the lessons while they are fresh. And use a professional facilitator (that would be someone like me) who can bring new ways of looking at your business and its future, provide a process and leave you free to explore ideas.
I also hold the view that documenting your plan is a must. There is something about being forced to document decisions and your thinking that gives clarity. And once documented don’t forget it. As I said, you need to be updating your thinking on a quarterly basis or at worst every six months.
So I now believe in a much more flexible approach to business planning, but also understand more frequent visits to the planning table are a must. This is a classic example of taking time to work on your business and not in it.