2 Things Your Annual Business Plan Needs To Succeed

Underwhelmed by the results of your annual planning efforts?
2 Things Your Annual Business Plan Needs To Succeed
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:

  1. Developing a strategic plan to work in tandem with your annual plan 
  2. Using strategy software to execute your plan

Below we take a closer look at these recommendations and why they’re a necessity. 

Unlock a step-by-step walkthrough for creating - and executing - your strategic plan, from strategy experts!

#1: Develop a strategic plan to work in tandem with your annual business plan. 

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. 

#2: Use strategy software to execute your plan.

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: 

  1. It helps you get everyone working in sync. ClearPoint allows you to tie the activities in your annual business plan to your overall strategic plan; you can also tie your budget to your plans. Seeing the connection visually helps you properly allocate your resources, and allows everyone to see the impact of their work at a higher level.
  1. It allows you to focus on strategy, not reporting. Many organizations are surprised by how challenging and time-consuming it is to gather updates and generate and distribute reports for quarterly or monthly updates. (Trying to do this in Excel is not advisable!) ClearPoint users don’t have those challenges because the software automates nearly all the tedious administrative tasks associated with reporting. When your team isn’t bogged down with reporting, everyone can concentrate on higher-value tasks that help move the organization forward.
  2. It offers a clear view of how things are progressing. Trying to glean valuable strategy insights from Excel spreadsheets, data analysis tools, or project management software is a load of work that usually doesn’t bear much fruit; it’s simply too difficult to extrapolate the information you need to make good decisions. Strategy software, on the other hand, instantly directs your attention to the most important aspects of your business—the strategy-related ones—and shows you quickly and clearly how well you’re doing. Plus, ClearPoint is tremendously customizable, so you can create a variety of reports aimed at different audiences.  

Make ClearPoint your partner in planning. 

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.

See ClearPoint in action—schedule a demo with us today!

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2 Things Your Annual Business Plan Needs To Succeed

RJ Messineo

Account Executive & True Crime Fanatic

RJ drives new business for ClearPoint, guiding prospective clients through the sales process.