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2015 Business Planning: 3 Tips To Improve the Process

Last week, I did a webcast for a vendor that was designed for its channel resellers. Its purpose was to discuss effective business planning and to review a specific process to ensure the vendor's plans -- and, more importantly, its execution in 2015 -- will be at higher levels.

The content of the webcast was based upon our ESTEEM Formula, a format we use to work our clients through a process to build their business plans. When people think about a business plan, we normally think of an Excel spreadsheet with estimated revenues and expenses. But we believe it needs to be more comprehensive, with specific departmental action plans. The program was an effort by the vendor to increase the professionalism and productivity of its partners. 

While I obviously can't share the entire 60-minute program here, I thought I might share a few elements.

First, take the business assessment evaluation from our Web site. It is a comprehensive tool designed to reflect your organization's maturity level. It will measure management, sales, HR, marketing and other components of your business. The assessment will grade each section and provide you with insights into what to potentially focus on in the new year.

Second, pass out the following questions to your management team. They have two weeks to complete them. At your management meeting, compare everyone's thoughts and discuss the findings. Then you can begin to develop your business plan.

  • What went well in the past year?
  • What did not go well?
  • What are the key drivers?
  • What are the key metrics?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • What are some of the specific factors you will be facing in 2015?
  • What assumptions are you making about the market in 2015?
  • What assumptions did you make about your product offerings in 2014? Still true?
  • What assumptions did you make about your company capability in 2014? Still true?

Third, use a format that makes sense for your firm. This is Acumen's ESTEEM format:

  • Environment
  • Strategy
  • Tactical effect
  • Execution
  • Evaluation
  • Measurement

How ever you get ready for 2015, it's critical to establish a vision and strategic objectives, and then develop actionable/tactical programs that are designed to achieve the goals. Then, as these action plans are detailed, assign responsibility and hold people accountable! We use a tool call the Business Plan Roadmap that allows executives to follow each objective and the action tracts and timelines to ensure success. If you want a copy, please send me an e-mail at [email protected].

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 10, 2014


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