Nature of your enterprise (business, division, group, etc.):
While planning is a continuous and dynamic process, that doesn’t mean it lacks structure. It has to have a starting point; and then it is dynamically adjusted and communicated as conditions change, assumptions are adjusted, and temporary targets are replaced with new ones, etc. The Structured Planning icon above conveys that one cannot develop operational plans or budgets without having a strategic view that those operational plans and budgets support. Structure is a critical part of the planning process, and the one I have followed over the years involves nine main areas to be addressed—and continuously readdressed—by the planning team in the order listed.
What it is and how it operates today:
History of the business (outline of important events); Organization, key management, committees; Billing methods and collection methods; Products, services, expense recovery method; Description of the market; Recruitment; Marketing, networking, referral practices, sales methods; Client intake methods and standards; Competition and market share; Quality control and client satisfaction.
Five-year financials which benchmark comparisons of key performance indicators such as days of inventory, days to collect bills, margin percentage, customer satisfaction—the key success drivers for your particular business, department or activity.
Environment in which you operate:
Economic conditions; Labor force; Technology; Governmental issues; Nature of market and competition.
Our strengths; Our weaknesses; Threats; Our best opportunities such as: new products to existing clients-same products to new markets-new products to new markets-performance improvements.
Economic; Labor force; Technology; Governmental impacts;Nature of market.
Mission, goal and/or objective; Main things required to achieve objective; The main opportunities and the risks and/or weaknesses that require action; Strategies for achieving those main things; Tactics or programs to implement or support strategies.
Policies/Procedures (changes or new ones needed):
Existing policies requiring change, New policies needed.
Main things for success of each strategy; Tactics (programs) to implement strategies; Key indicators (measurements) of achievements.
Priorities and Schedules:
Programs; New processes; New assets or resources; Measurement capability.
Organization and Delegation:
Organization Chart; Who is responsible for what? Job or position descriptions.
Once the overall strategic plan is developed, each major department or group should go through the same planning process, and that planning process becomes input into the firm-wide plan. Which comes first the chicken or the egg--the strategic plan or the operational plan, the enterprise-wide plan or the segment plans, etc.? The answer is each is shaped by the other over time. Since planning occurs continually, it is impossible to tell.
Planning is a discovery process. Sometimes it is a discovery of the obvious and sometimes it breaks new ground. The one thing you can count on is that we are far more likely to get there if we know where we are going and how we are supposed to get there. I refer to that as I65 North. I65 North is a reminder that the business is a journey and that leadership’s job is to get all of the firm’s people traveling in the same direction. Planning gets the team playing from the same playbook. It prepares the team for the future, equipping it to capitalize on its opportunities.