We have consulted with hundreds of businesses over the past three decades and during this process, we’ve seen the ways in which completing an annual plan and effectively executing it through the year provides a huge operational advantage to those companies who do this well. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or how large your company is, creating an effective annual plan provides an indisputable business advantage.
This article is a follow up to our earlier article, Annual Planning Roadmap – Your Guide to greater Success. In that article, we detailed the key elements of an effective annual plan, the steps for effective execution, and how to establish a success rhythm. If you are new to creating an annual plan, be sure to read this previous article.
In this article, we are focusing on many of the cultural and operational benefits of developing an annual plan and effectively executing this with your team throughout the year.
Cultural Benefits of an Annual Plan
There are multiple cultural benefits to effectively developing an annual plan with your team. The more engagement, understanding and participation your team has in the development of your plan, the more benefit your annual plan will provide.
Your annual plan should tie directly to your organizational vision. According to Jim Collins (author of Good to Great, Built to Last, and many other highly recognized business success books), an effective organizational vision contains three critical elements:
- Core Values – A system of guiding principles and tenets; a philosophy of business and life. Principles that are to be held inviolate which guide how all organizational decisions are made, and which dictate all experience had with the organization.
- Purpose – Grows out of core values. The foundational reason for the organization’s existence. Should serve to inspire the organization to be something greater.
- Mission – Specific, defined measures of success. Has a clear finish line and specific time frame. Should have a vivid description linked back to your purpose.
Your annual plan should connect each persons’ key role responsibilities and the planned organizational initiatives for the year back to your organizational vision. When your team is engaged in this process and when these connections are made, an unexpected shift occurs. In addition, your annual plan provides the following important cultural benefits:
- Vision alignment
- Individual connection
- Confidence and empowerment
By using your organizational vision as the basis for your annual plan, your team is reminded of it, and you have the opportunity to reconnect them with all the attributes of your vision. Most organizations do not have a vision that actively drives all of their decisions. Annual planning is an opportunity to come together, review these key elements and reinvigorate your team behind what your company stands for and where everyone is heading together.
Through the highly intentional development of team BIG 3s (individual role responsibilities and key success measures) and SMARTs (key company initiatives or projects) for the year, everyone on your team comes to understand the importance of their individual role. This connects everyone on your team with how their day-to-day role responsibilities are intimately tied to the success of the entire organization. It does not matter if the individual’s role is to answer the phones, sweep the floor, or generate enterprise sales, each team member must achieve their individual goals, or the organization will not be as successful.
This intimate connection between each person’s individual role and the overall vision of the organization is powerful. It aligns everyone behind common goals, creates extreme teamwork, and moves everyone forward together.
Without a well-developed annual plan, it is nearly impossible to clearly define the individual role responsibilities and key success measures for each person on your team. As a result, your team may not have clarity as to:
- What success in their role looks like
- How their success will be measured
- How each team member will 100% understand what is expected of them and how they can know each day, week, or month if they are doing a good job
To create team member accountability, key measures of success must be clearly defined. Each day, your team members should be able to objectively state if they did a good job in their role. If this is currently not possible, you need to spend the time to get granular about each person’s role and their key success measures. This is the only way for a team member to be truly accountable.
Confidence and Empowerment
Clearly defined role responsibilities with agreed upon success measures allow your team members to be truly accountable, and they also provide each one of them with confidence and empowerment.
If your team members do not know whether they are doing a good job, they cannot be confident in their role. Worse yet, if your mangers come to your team members every day with a new set of role responsibilities and priorities that your team member is not sure how to prioritize and/or isn’t sure how to complete successfully, it is impossible for your team to have confidence that they are doing a great job.
If each team member’s role is clearly defined, their success measures are in place, and they are hitting or exceeding their role expectations, they can have confidence. Plus, with a clear vision as to what we are trying to achieve as a company, they can now begin to take steps or suggest improvements that help move the company forward faster. Taking this elevated view and operating at this level is true empowerment.
Operational Benefits of an Annual Plan
In addition to the many cultural benefits, an annual plan also provides multiple operational benefits to your organization. These include:
- KPI Clarification
- Intentional systems development
- Growth planning
Key Performance Indicator(s) Clarification
As you develop your annual plan, you will need to create several mathematical scenarios. Some of these mathematical scenarios might include:
- At X dollars in sales, how many employees do we need to deliver our services?
- To achieve a profit margin of X%, we need our cost of goods sold to be less than $X/month
- If we grow next year by X%, how many more machines will we need to purchase to meet the larger demand?
Essentially, you will create mathematical models to help inform your annual plan. As you create these models, they will inform your annual plan and also provide you with the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you need to manage in order to achieve your organizational business goals.
Intentional Systems Development
As you develop your KPIs, you may realize that you do not have the tools or systems in place to measure and monitor them.
For example, if you are a professional services company and your revenues are based on billable hours, not only is your professional services delivery team your #1 generator of your revenues, but they are also your largest business expense. If you do not have an accurate system to measure the revenues from your clients as compared to the hours of service that your team is delivering, the odds are that your professional services delivery team is not generating the profits that they should. When someone comes to you and says that they are too busy, maybe this is because they are doing too much free work. But, without an effective measurement system, it is impossible to know.
Once you have established the KPIs in your annual plan, it is imperative to develop the tracking tools and systems to measure these on a regular basis. If your actual numbers are not meeting the goals of your annual plan, your attention should focus on the actions needed to improve this performance.
Another huge benefit of developing an annual plan is organizational growth planning. As in our KPI example above, there are many mathematical models that you will use to inform your projections as you develop your annual plan numbers.
Often these models result in unintended insights, especially if you give the development of your annual plan the time and the space it requires to gain additional insights. Some key growth areas your plan may uncover include:
- What will your future org chart need to look like?
- What infrastructure costs will need to increase as you grow?
- How will you keep your team and your culture aligned?
- How will your new business generation need to expand to meet the goals?
- What additional access to capital might you require?
Consider consulting with asset finance brokers uk, as they specialize in facilitating access to various forms of financing that could align with your expansion plans and capital needs. As you work through these plans, you will identify potential future issues and key business planning areas. This allows you to address them during your planning process instead of when it is too late somewhere down the road. This is a true advantage.
Annual Planning FAQs
How many months is an annual plan?
An annual plan is typically 12 months. It begins on the first day of an organization’s new fiscal year and continues through the end of that fiscal year. As the company experiences results against their plan, quarterly plan adjustments may be needed to reset for unforeseen events.
What are the benefits of an annual plan?
There are many benefits an annual plan provides. These include:
- Fresh insights and ideas
- A renewed cultural connection with the company vision
- Improved connections between individual team responsibilities and the goals of the organization
- The development of critical KPIs used to measure the organization’s success
How do I make a year plan?
Developing an annual plan involves multiple steps, including:
- Understanding your specific market
- Assessment of company strengths and weaknesses
- Aligning your team with your company vision
- The creation of accurate models to explore possibilities
- Defining a clear, well-organized plan forward for the coming year
How do you run an annual planning process?
Running an annual planning process is a skill developed over time. It requires a combination of a deep understanding of the business, knowledge about the overall market, competitive research, operational insights, and the ability to lead and inspire.
What are the most important elements to have in the annual plan?
Some of the most critical elements to include in your annual plan are:
- Accurate revenue
- Cost and profit projections
- Revenue source projections
- Operational initiatives required to achieve the set goals
- Key stakeholder role responsibilities
- Defined systems of accountability
What is the focus of an annual plan?
The focus of an annual plan is to create an accurate projection as to what the future of the organization will be in the coming year if all the goals and objectives are successfully met. This can be used to communicate with the organization’s team members to inspire the teamwork, effort and the individual results needed.
The key to developing an annual plan is to get started. October is a great month to begin your annual planning if you are on a fiscal calendar year. If you are new to annual planning, do what you can this year. As you practice, you will improve. Each year, what goes into your annual plan will evolve and become more critical to your business success. No matter the level of time and effort you put into this, you will achieve a new level of clarity, understanding and wisdom about what your company needs to become more successful.
Developing an annual plan creates a concrete path forward for your company’s success in the coming year. It provides insight and perspective which would otherwise not exist. Take the time to do this well and you will be rewarded.
Webolutions is a full-spectrum digital marketing and strategic growth implementation agency. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique stories to life, empowering them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.
Areas of expertise:
- Differentiating Brand Development
- Marketing & Communications Strategies
- Customer Journey Mapping & CRM Systems Execution
- Enterprise Website & Application Development
- Cross-Platform Data Systems Integration
- Organizational Development Strategies
- Team Alignment, Culture, & Performance Solutions
- Business Performance Intelligence Systems
A Special Offer
To speak with one of our experts about how we can help you develop a successful annual plan for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request a free annual plan consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we’ll help you start outlining your plan. You can also email any questions to email@example.com.