Business Planning - 7 Steps to Success Post by Admin , Jan 18, 2019. Business Consultancy Forecasts, plans and strategy are essential for firms of all sizes. Whilst the size of the firm will dictate the level of complexity and detail that should be put into the generation of a plan, this will provide those involved in its delivery with much more clarity on what is expected and by when. It will also provide a clear measure against which the firm can record and assess its success or failure, and for the latter will drive amendments as needed to ensure successful delivery. Whether a plan is to reduce expenditure, increase new business or to bring in new methods, etc. (or a combination of all of these factors and more) the firm should establish what it is seeking to achieve and put in place a plan, against which they can measure the success and impact of the changes. Setting out plans, projections and forecasts in writing does not have to be cumbersome. Owners and Senior Managers must avoid the temptation to discuss and arrive at an agreed strategy and not record the desired results in writing. This should include a statement of the objectives and the financial impact . Importantly they must communicate the strategy to those involved making it clear what is expected, by why and by when. Too often owners do not document or communicate their future strategy which results in these being difficult to measure, communicate or report against. For a plan to be effective it should cover the following:- Focus – Before setting out the plan, it must be decided what the firm is seeking to achieve. The ultimate goal could be one high level statement such as ‘Income growth of 10%” or a combination of required events such as, Growth of 10%, increase Profits of 15% and a reduction of Expenditure of 5%. Whatever the focus for the firm, it needs to be assessed and understood before plans can be generated and for each areas of focus a different strategy arrived at. Key Achievements – What are the key achievements expected and who is expected to be part of the delivery? If the firm is seeking revenue growth, establish from what departments or people is the growth expected and what will be the required performance to achieve the targets set? Being very clear on what the key achievements are and what is involved in reaching those will provide direction and clarity. Current Position – Ensure there is a ‘line in the sand’ drawn before implementation of a plan. To measure success, a firm will need to understand where it is now and what it is seeking to achieve. If the plan is to generate new business with increased marketing, what is the current spend on marketing and the new business this generates for each areas of focus. Recording this information enables a firm to truly assess impact of its strategy and justification for any additional spend. Expected Position – What is the final position expected and when is it to be achieved by and by whom? It is critical to set review and milestone dates enabling a full assessment of the success of the plan. Implementation – When it has been set out what the firm is to focus on and the expectation it is time to implement. Those involved in the implementation process must be informed of their involvement and told exactly what is expected of them and when. Also set in reporting dates so they are aware of the milestones and know their performance will be assessed at these points. Failure to effectively implement a plan is likely to result in failure. Measuring and Review– As part of the plan, building measurable will be set out and the firm must ensure it is able to capture the necessary information to assess performance. Do not be tempted to allow a measurable date slip. Assess what has happened when you say you will and measure the performance against these critical dates and where there may be issues, rectify them and where there is success, see how this can be maximised. Critically review the performance and ensure that the plan and those involved are challenged. Adapt – It is essential to adapt plans as they progress. Reality will often take the journey down a different path and it is essential to recognise this and adapt your plan to the changing circumstances. Do not lose sight of the original objective and record changes and how this will impact on the end result. But adaptation to a plan that is not working is essential to securing success and it is equally as important to justify your investment to further investment, particularly when things are going well. Planning does not always have to be difficult, but admittedly the larger a firm is and with multiple departments, the more complex a plan will become but each department should be broken down into its own area with the final result bringing them all together to set the firm wide objectives. Regardless of the output of the planning setting it out, communicating it and measuring against it are key to the successful delivery. At Mr Green Consultancy, we work with firms to put together plans and forecasts alongside an implementation strategy and Key Performance Indicators against which the firm can measure and assess the achievement of their goals. For more information about how Mr Green Consultancy can work with you to identify areas of improvement and deliver solutions contact us online, call us on 0207 842 1825, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.