Last month, we outlined an annual planning roadmap to elevate the success of your business. To complement that content, this month we are sharing some insights and tips to streamline your 2023 strategies to create a better company.
We are fortunate to work strategically with dozens of leading companies across a diverse mix of industries and markets. This allows us to gain a unique perspective and insight into the shifts and changes affecting businesses today.
Now that the world seems to be normalizing after COVID, there is a new set of factors creating pressures on businesses. Some of these factors include:
- Increasing interest rates
- Inflation fears
- Slowed consumer demand
- A turbulent stock market
- A continued tight labor market
- General uncertainty about the future
This uncertainty presents an opportunity for those businesses who can lead through the turbulent waters and focus on the right strategies.
How Streamlining Creates a Better Company
Streamlining means to make more efficient and effective by employing faster or simpler working methods. In this article, our primary focus will be on simplification. So, how does simplification create a better company? Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of some key business areas.
Let’s say that your 2023 annual plan has roughly 20 operational initiatives that your leadership team have brainstormed and planned for implementation in the coming year. Some ways to streamline or optimize these initiatives include:
1. Clearly define the resources needed to implement initiative
Outline the hard purchase costs as well as the internal team member resource costs for each of these initiatives to effectively estimate the full cost of each initiative. Then, with the full cost understood, rate the return on investment (ROI) for each initiative on a scale of 1 to 10. As you take these steps, you may realize that some of your planned initiatives are far less important than others. Some may even have a negative ROI. These can simply be eliminated.
2. Prioritize your initiatives against short-term and long-term business goals.
Organize this list with most critical short-term initiatives (2023 items) at the top down to the least important. Then do the same for your long-term (through 2025) priorities. This will provide you with clarity and insights into which of these can simply be eliminated from your 2023 list.
3. For each of your remaining priorities, be sure to outline defined specifics:
- Who is accountable for the success tracking of the project?
- What is the start date and end date of the project?
- What other team members and resources are required for the project’s success?
- How often is project progress going to be reported?
- What are the criteria for the success of the project? Make absolutely sure that you spend the time to create clarity around this!
Read our article: Be Your Company’s Chief Simplification Officer
4. Apply this thought model to any new initiative ideas which may arise throughout the year.
You and your team already have a plan which is optimized for your success. However, it is inevitable that new ideas are going surface. If a new initiative idea is MORE important than those you have planned, then replace something. If a new initiative idea is not more important than those you have planned, put it on a list to possibly explore in the future.
As you take these steps, you will gain valuable insights into the impact, cost, and the specific success measures for each of your critical operational initiatives. In most cases, your list of possible initiatives will shrink as you focus on the priorities which are most important to the success of your business.
This practice will help you create a better company by:
- More effectively understanding and utilizing your precious resources
- Focusing only on those initiatives most important to your company’s success
- Ensuring that everyone involved in the implementation of your initiatives is 100% clear on the budget, timeline and the success measures of the initiative
- Being able to simply say no to any initiative ideas that are not as beneficial as those in your plan (this is a powerful benefit)
Employee Attraction, Engagement & Retention
Another way to streamline is to provide clarity around the roles and responsibilities for each of your team members. Just like an operational priority, for each of your team members, you should create a set of BIG 3s. A BIG 3 clearly defines a team member’s 3 role responsibilities. Then, for each of these 3 (and only 3) role responsibilities, define:
The weight of the responsibility. This allows the team member to fully understand how you perceive the importance of the role. We use a scale that adds up 100% and assign a number of approximate monthly hours which corresponds to weight, like this:
- Example Role Responsibility #1 – 70% (121 hrs / mth)
- Example Role Responsibility #2 – 20% (34 hrs / mth)
- Example Role Responsibility #3 – 10% (17 hrs / mth)
An overview statement of the role responsibility
- How an individual’s BIG 3s tie into your company’s core values, purpose and mission
- The key success measures of each role responsibility
- The more quantifiable, the better
- A check in rhythm to review status
It should be 100% clear to each team member whether they are successfully achieving their BIG 3s. On at least a monthly basis, there should be check in with their supervisor to convey their status and discuss any issues they are having or additional help or support they may need. We use a scale of:
- Green – All their success measures are being hit and on track
- Yellow – Their success measures are being hit, but there are some potential issues we should address
- Red – Their success measures are not being hit and we need to address these ASAP
By creating and using BIG 3s effectively, you create a better company by:
- Providing extreme clarity and confidence to every team member as to how they will be successful in their role
- Creating a system by which your organization quickly and accurately identifies areas of focus to ensure that your organization is achieving its goals
- Creating a culture of accountability and one where everyone understands how their individual role ties into the overall company vision.
Today, there are countless potential channels through which you can market your business. We have found that the biggest challenge is not identifying all these possibilities, but to simply focus on the ones that are necessary for you to achieve your defined business goals. Many marketing teams get pulled in too many directions and in the end, do not effectively execute.
Each year, we work with our clients to develop a Collaborative ROI Projection Model™. This model allows us to streamline our clients’ marketing plans to focus only on those channels and the related activities needed to achieve their business goals. Some of the information in each of these models includes:
Potential Business Verticals – These can be:
- Product lines
- Key industry targets
- Marketing Channel ROI Calculations
- The proposed monthly spend
- Seasonal spend variances (if any)
- The projected ad impressions we will receive
- The projected click through rate
- The projected cost per click
- The projected landing page conversion rate (number of leads or sales made)
- The value of a conversion to the business
- The average profit margin for the conversion
- The estimated ROI of that strategy
By taking this approach and being armed with the information from this model, you create a better company by being able to clearly see:
- What marketing strategies create the best ROI for your company
- What budget is required to achieve the goals for each identified vertical
- How we can shift budget from low ROI strategies to those with a higher ROI
- The specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) we need to track and hit each month to achieve your marketing and business goals.
- Which marketing strategies we can simply eliminate from our mix.
Challenges to Strategic Optimization
As you read the examples above, they naturally make sense. So, why aren’t all organizations able to streamline their strategies? Let’s take a look at some of the typical obstacles we see businesses encounter.
Evolving Your Organizational Mindset
For many years, organizations have lived by the mindset that more is better. More products, more job responsibilities, more marketing channels, etc. The notion of streamlining implies that a greater focus on fewer things which matter most is a far better approach. This discipline has made even more possible through the advancement of business intelligence tools. Companies now have access to far more data. The effective access to this data provides greater business intelligence.
Optimizing your strategies across your company requires a conscious effort and discipline. It is a shift in mindset away from more is better.
To help you on this mindset shift journey, there are a couple of books that we recommend by Greg McKeown.
Lack of Critical Information
When we begin this conversation with many of our clients, their first response is that they do not have the information needed to make streamlining their organization possible. It seems obvious to us that this would be the case.
As you begin to focus on streamlining your strategies, the outcome of this effort is the identification of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you need to be successful. Until a business identifies what these are, there is no way that they just happen to have this information available. As you implement this approach, you will come to understand what information you need. Then, you must create the systems to have this information in as close to real-time as possible.
Creating The Required Systems
Companies implement software and systems based on the goals and priorities at a moment in time. There is no avoiding this. As you begin to streamline your strategies, it is highly possible that you’ll discover that to be successful, you need a more detailed data structure for you to gain the focus and intelligence you need. Sometimes we find that a company’s existing systems infrastructure is not flexible enough to be altered to provide this information. In this case, the systems may need to be upgraded or changed to allow the company to streamline their strategies.
Let’s look at an example of this. One of our clients recently implemented a new CRM system. Their consultant set up all their contacts according to how they had been organizing their target contacts to date. As we worked to develop their new Collaborative ROI Projection Model for their upcoming year’s marketing plan, we identified that to streamline their marketing it would makes sense to focus on different classes of clients within each of their target verticals:
- Class A targets within a designated vertical are contacts with the potential to purchase or refer $500k or more a year in sales.
- Class C targets within a designated vertical are contacts with the potential to only refer $20k a year in sales.
Naturally, far less time, expense and resources should be spent on a Class C target than a Class A. This would greatly streamline their marketing resources and increase their overall marketing ROI. To achieve this level of segmentation, results tracking and marketing success, their CRM required some reprograming.
Streamlining Your Strategy FAQs
Q: What does it mean to streamline business processes?
A: Streamlining business processes refers to the intelligent simplification of these processes to focus on its most impactful elements though prioritization and the reduction of complexity. It reduces unnecessary steps or use of resources which could be better utilized.
Q: How do I prioritize which strategies to streamline first?
A: Once you’ve set a clear vision for your organization including your annual mission goals, core values, and purpose, identify and prioritize what strategic initiatives are most important to your success. This will help you determine the how to prioritize your streamlining efforts.
Q:How should I go about streamlining a specific strategy?
A: We have found that most companies are used to doing things a particular way. That approach and process has been part of what makes them successful. It is very difficult for someone in the middle of the trees to see the forest. For this reason, one of the best ways to streamline your strategies is to hire an outside expert in this area. They will see things through a different lens.
Start Streamlining Today
As with most effective improvement strategies, the key is to take the first step. When you start streamlining, you will begin to see your strategies in a new light. You will begin to identify the clutter and extra effort spent in all you do. You will begin to identify your most critical paths, develop greater focus, and come to understand the information and systems you need to become more successful.
Streamlining your strategies helps you create a stronger company in many ways:
- It forces you to identify the most impactful use of your company resources
- It helps you build more intelligent decision-making models
- It provides clarity, focus and a connection to your vision for your team
- It requires you to identify your most critical KPIs and create effective tracking systems for these
- It gives you the tools to eliminate extra effort and clutter along your road to success
Webolutions is a full-spectrum management consulting and strategic growth implementation company. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique stories to life, allowing them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.
Areas of expertise:
- Differentiating Brand Development
- Marketing & Communications Strategies
- Customer Journey Mapping & 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 you can streamline your strategies for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request a Free Streamlining Consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we’ll help you start creating a plan for success. You can also email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.