Catalyst Consulting Blog Post

Without a Plan, plans fail

We are fortunate to have spent decades in companies that placed a high value on developing and updating plans. Without a plan, you are not sure of your outcome. But, a plan is a guide, and should be updated regularly, as you have more information.

There are several building blocks to your planning discipline. The major component is your annual plan. This plan should follow the timing of your company fiscal year.

The outline for this plan is the strategies you derive from well envisioned and well analyzed research. Each of your strategies should be high level. Each strategy should be supported by tactics. Tactics are the specific actions you will take to make that strategy operational.

Since timing is critical to understanding impact and adjacency of tactics, we prefer to use a Gantt chart to build the Strategies and tactics into a plan. The left axis is the activities and the top axis is time. This helps keep your organization on track with your initiatives.

Underlying this plan are financials. These take the form of your budget, coupled with your sales forecast. This will marry the cost and revenue components associated with your strategies and tactics. These flow into an estimated P &L.

Updating your plans is critical because you are getting more information on a regular basis: strong or weak sales, customer input, testing results. We recommend the discipline of updating plans quarterly.

It is also important to plan beyond year one. We recommend a three-year plan, with the first year being the current annual plan. We think this is a good time horizon, because it is long enough to reflect the cumulative impact of strategy implementation, but not so long in the future that it is difficult to project.

We usually develop various plans to support the long range plan. The most common are the budget by year for marketing, the human resource plan and costs, and the sales forecast. While the forecast for year one is usually fairly detained, the plans for the “out” years is generally less detailed.

We believe it is critical for companies to develop and monitor plans for a number of reasons. A planning discipline forces organizations to think critically about their business. Additionally, plans provide a good tool for communicating expectations to upper management. In a public company, they are a necessity to deliver sales and profits reliably and predictably to shareholders.

Our planning process is tested, comprehensive, yet easy to understand and develop. We would love the opportunity to assist you with your planning heeds.

Customers have been delighted with the plans we have developed for them and they provide an excellent tool for communicating strategies and their impact to senior management.

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