7 Steps For A Productive Quarterly Review
When was the last time you took time out for a detailed review of this year's business goals and plans? Was it only at the start of the year? Or did you stop at the end of the last quarter to go through a strategic planning process? If you did, well done – this kind of constant review of your business plan is a crucial part to fast but sustainable growth. But it is also important that you are doing the right kind of review.
Good goal reviewing and strategic planning is not just about dreaming – it is about taking dreams and figuring out how to make them your reality.
So what should you be reviewing and creating at the beginning of the next quarter? Here is the 7-step strategic planning process.
Step 1: Review Your Past Year
The first thing you need to do is take a look at the last 12 months. This is about getting the overall view of the direction the business is taking. You can also start taking stock of how much time you have spent just working in the job of the business rather than working ON the business.
Step 2: Review Your Current Position
Once you have done an overarching review of the last year, narrow it down to right now. Do an objective review of what you have achieved in the quarter that has just passed and write an overview of your current situation – especially focusing on what is still missing and needs to be done.
Step 3: Set Your Personal Goals
In our experience as business coaches, we find the best way to achieve goals is to define your long-term goals first (that is, goals to achieve in 5-10+ years). Then you go on to break those down into three-year goals, and then into one-year goals. The drive to make your business a success often comes from the knowledge that your success in business comes with the ability to achieve your personal goals. So even though this may be non-business related, it can still be critical to your success in business.
Step 4: Create Your Plan
There are a few stages to creating your plan from your goals:
Categorise: The categories should emerge from your goals quite naturally, and may include Travel, Finances, Family, Social Life, Charity/Community, Business or whatever else is important in your life.
Prioritise: Choose one – just one – goal in each category that is the absolute most important one. This should be the one you will achieve no matter what else happens. Highlight this in your goals list.
Actions Required: Decide the actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Here you need to get specific and realistic. Hitting milestones is one of the ways that we motivate ourselves to keep going towards the ultimate goal, so start putting down numbers you can actually achieve here.
Divide: Look at the actions you need to achieve for the year and split them out over the four quarters of the year.
Step 5: Assign Accountability
Now that you are clear on WHAT needs to be done over the next quarter and year, you then need to clarify WHO is going to do these things.
Every business should draw up an Accountability Chart. In this chart, you take all the different functions in your business – Head of Company, Marketing, R&D, Sales, Support, Finances etc. and make sure that for each of them:
There is a person who is held accountable for this function
There is a list of leading indicators (i.e. Key Performance Indicators or KPIs) that tracks that function's performance
There are clear results/outcomes from that function that directly relate to lines on your Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and/or Cash Flow statements
Step 6: Create Default Diaries
Inevitably, for every person accountable for functions in your company, there will be actions that will be required each week in order to maintain the KPIs listed for their function on the Accountability Chart. Draw up a calendar for the week - every person in your company should have a default diary.
Step 7: Review Your Plan Weekly
Remember that the lists and plans that you have created during the quarterly review process are dynamic, not static, documents, so you should be pulling out your weekly plan at the beginning of each week and ticking off the actions you did achieve and highlighting the ones you did not. If you did not do them, ask yourself why.
Taking the time out can sometimes be a difficult thing to schedule into your diary. That is why having a business mentor or attending Strategic Planning Day workshops can be beneficial: someone will hold you accountable.