April 14, 2023
Underwhelmed by the results of your annual planning efforts?
We talk a lot about strategic plans here at ClearPoint, but we’re big fans of the annual business plan, too. (Yes, there’s a difference!) In fact, we talk to plenty of organizations that don’t do strategic planning—they focus only on annual planning. Plans of any kind are a good thing, so we applaud all efforts in this direction. However, even annual business planning won’t get you where you want to go if you don’t do it right.
If you’ve been underwhelmed by where your yearly plans have so far gotten you—or if you’re just starting out with annual planning—know that you can improve your results by doing two things:
Below we take a closer look at these recommendations and why they’re a necessity.
First things first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with these concepts:
An annual business plan is a yearlong plan of action for a specific department or business unit, outlining a specific subset of goals and activities.
A strategic plan (sometimes called a corporate strategy) identifies a broad set of objectives an organization will strive to achieve over the course of the next three to five years.
Not everyone believes you need both an annual plan and a strategic plan. Those who argue against the need for a strategic plan say it’s impossible to know what the future holds two, three, or four years from now, so it’s best to focus on short-term goals.
We think that point of view is shortsighted (literally and figuratively!). Having a major objective for everyone in the organization to strive for over the long term unites your entire workforce, ensuring that everyone, in every department, is consistently working to achieve something big. Plus, annual work plans alone don’t have a larger, long-term vision to connect to, which means departmental activities may not be in alignment. As a result, individual departments may make some forward strides annually, but those strides are less likely to amount to big progress for your organization as a whole.
That said, we understand why making long-term plans may seem risky or restrictive to some organizations. While we’re proponents of strategic plans, we also recognize the need for flexibility. If you do decide to implement a strategic plan, evaluate it at the start of every new year to make sure your objectives are still relevant, and whether it needs to be adjusted to take advantage of new opportunities (or avoid new looming threats).
The bottom line: A comprehensive and cohesive planning effort produces better results. Develop a strategic plan first, then create annual business plans for each department that support it.
Lots of organizations make the mistake of thinking that creating a plan is the hardest part; in reality, executing it is where things tend to fall apart. Whether you’re talking about a department or an entire organization, you need a system in place to track and report on progress. You can’t simply wait until the end of the year (or the end of five years) and see how you did; it’s imperative to check in monthly or quarterly. But beware—implementing the wrong system can thwart your plans, taking too much time and yielding too few insights.
That’s where strategy software like ClearPoint comes in—to support your plan’s successful execution.
ClearPoint was designed specifically to help organizations like yours carry out your strategic plans more effectively. It improves the likelihood of achieving your goals because:
At ClearPoint, we run our own business using both strategic and annual business plans. We find that departmental planning meetings are greatly enhanced when department members are aware of what our organization is trying to achieve simply because they can see it in ClearPoint—all the time! Strategy at all levels is baked into our DNA, which helps us to grow consistently.
If you’d like to create a clearer path for strategy planning at your organization, reach out to us at ClearPoint and we’ll show you around. We’re dedicated to our customers’ success not only with our software but with strategy, too, which is why we partner with you throughout your whole strategic planning journey. We’ll provide an implementation specialist to help you get up and running, as well as a personal account manager to ensure you’re progressing toward all your goals and leveraging the software to its full potential for as long as you’re a customer. And to help you level up your strategy game even more, we host regular community meetings and are always happy to connect you with other players in your industry to share best practices.