There are 7 key components that any effective quarterly planning session should have to ensure that the management team are making the right decisions from the correct sources of information. How long these meetings take will depend on the size of your organisation.
- An owner operator sitting with their coach or accountant it could be done in an hour.
- A small business with a handful of staff it could take 2 – 4 hours.
- A medium size businesses with 2-3 managers it could take a half day.
- A medium to large size business with 4 or more full time managers it could take a whole day.
Generally the bigger the organisation the more ground that needs to be covered in a quarterly planning session and it is this that causes the time variable. For example an owner operator will not have to dwell on the people focus where as a larger company will have quite a bit to talk about there. Here are the 7 areas that should be covered and in this order, the reason for this is that by the time you get through points 1 – 5 you are likely to have most if not all the priorities already highlighted. Point 6 then will more often than not be about assigning accountabilities for those priorities rather than trying to figure out what they should be.
Previous Quarter Summary: Financial position of the company, revenue, gross profit, net profit, major assets purchased and cash position. Each manager summarises the performance of their department and how they did against their targets and priorities. This is one of the few times we should look back on the business and discuss our learning from the facts.
Bright Spot Each manager should also talk about something that went well or a major achievement that happened over the previous quarter. This is really important, all too often we get sucked into discussing the problems within the organisation without taking time to celebrate the wins.
Core Values: Each manager must bring to the table one or two examples of the core values being lived in their area of the business. Remember the 3rd indicator as to whether or not your core values are real “are they alive in the organisation” the only way they can be alive is if people are talking about them!!
People Focus: Each manager must bring to the table any B & C players in their teams with a development solution for those people (HR to pay particular attention here as this is where the bulk of their quarterly priorities will rest). This is where time can disappear, this is about the people in your organisation, its important do don’t cut corners here.
SWT Analysis: A group discussion is held to analyse the strengths, weaknesses and trends and decide whether there should be a particular focus in anything identified during that conversation. This is really important, keep the managers always on the look out for trending software, applications, technologies and market shifts to ensure your organisation is aware of potential influences in your markets or maybe give you the opportunity to disrupt your industry by adopting some of those trends early.
Cash Conversion Cycle: Discuss what is being done to optimize our cash flow, one or two ideas from this discussion should make up some of the priorities for the next quarter. Cash is king, without it you will not grow, there should always be a focus on how we can improve our business model to drive cash in our business.
Quarterly Rocks: Management team identify the top 5 company priorities for the quarter.
Quarterly Priorities: Before the meeting wraps up, each member of the management team must identify their own quarterly priorities from the days discussion.
You can see by the amount of topics that need to be covered, the quarterlyplanning session at best is a half day but more often with larger companies will be a full day of discussion and thinking with the management team and where possible to help keep the focus should be done off site.
Now you have now excuse jump into your calendar and block off some time for your next quarterly planning session so that you can plan out your next 13 week march. Don’t forget to download our One Page Strategic Plan to communicate your quarterly plan with your team!!