PART 2 – Planning For the Year Ahead
PART 3 – Staying on Track With Your Annual Plan - Monthly Management Report
Building upon your articulated vision of your company’s direction along with your business mandate, an annual plan will refocus your goals and give you a specific path to follow over the upcoming year. Each year becomes a new beginning to refocus and renew.
What is the annual plan?
- the annual plan is list of actionable, measurable target goals for the company to achieve in the upcoming year in the context of the company’s overall mandate.
- the annual plan is a written document to be shared with all team members with each team member identifying with the aspect of the ‘plan’ that pertains to them. The team members are requested to commit their best efforts to achieve the targets & goals outlined.
Benefits of an annual plan:
- clear specific pathway for the upcoming year to focus the company’s resources
- assessing the company’s resources to ensure they are suited to the work you have forecast
- focus on issues encountered over the previous year with intent to overcome the negative aspects of the issues
- team members will welcome a specific Annual Plan to tackle it with renewed commitment and vigor
- the plan is a reference to look at throughout the year and track progress
- a plan provides a roadmap to look at if your company veers of its focus
- an annual plan is more comprehensible and easier to process than long term goals for team members and management.
- an annual plan makes it less necessary to micro-manage as each team member will understand their role in the company’s progress.
My personal story
In the early years as a small businessman architect, my annual plan ( although not formally identified as such) consisted of:
- committing to do good architecture
- making a profit (without mentioning how much)
- visiting my accountant to review the past years financial statements – (but not clearly understanding them) and being advised by an accountant of what and whatto avoid over the nextyear.
My struggles as a small firm architect continued year after year, and I blamed my lack of business success on my clients, contractors, consultants, the economy and city hall. I felt like they were conspiring to work against my success. It wasn’t until after being in business for over 20 years, that a good look at my business practice revealed that the problem was actually my lack of business expertise. I lacked the tools to create a successful business.
As I iterated in previous blogs,
I faced the choice: either learn the skills of business or quit. I chose to learn, and began to complete an online business program specifically tailored for small practitioners. That program came with a mentor who helped me with the lessons and how to apply them to my business.
In the course of this program I learned many new solutions to improve my business. These solutions became the systems and processes which became the fundamental for running my business. Once these systems /processes became company culture, I could not imagine ever working without them again. I know the pain of any company trying to work without these systems.
One of these processes that helped was planning the operations of the company on an annual basis. The following is an outline of the process I have used on an annual basis – the plan for the upcoming year.
1. In the 11th or 12th month of the year, after completing a summary of the previous one (see blog Part 1 - Annual summary & evaluation of your business), I scheduled a team meeting for the purpose of looking ahead to the upcoming year.
2. The meeting agenda outlined some general topics for a discussion. Nothing too specific, as being too specific might limit creative input and new ideas. All team members were requested to actively participate on how the company could achieve success in the upcoming year – a total ‘blue sky’ session. A time limit was set to receive ideas. Usually, some very good ideas were raised by the team. Of course, some ideas were a little ‘to-far-out-there’ to be useful., but just the same all team member suggestions were recorded for all to see on a projected screen
3. After the meeting all the ideas/suggestions were categorized and prioritized in colaboration with the team. The team was thanked for their enthusiastic participation in the process with a commitment to share the upcoming year plan with them once it was finalized. I told the team that all ideas and suggestions were seriously considered and some would included in the plan.
4. The following is a list of categories to begin the discussion on ideas/suggestions:
- required equipment
- new office processes/ systems
- adjustment of existing systems
- additional staff required
- arrangement of work space
- office culture
- office procedures
- client satisfaction
- education & training
5. Considering the team’s contributions, prepare the new year plan. Remember to write the plan in actionable and measurable terms. Once completed, break the plan down into monthly segments. This plan will be regularly reviewed, a minimum of once per month, to ensure goals and timelines are on track.
6. Before the beginning of the new-year, schedule another team meeting where the new-year plan is rolled out. Give each team member a copy of the new year plan prior to the meeting. Take all questions from team members and clarify them to their satisfaction. Point out how their suggestions have been considered.
7. At this meeting you should be able to achieve agreement on the new year plan with all team members. Ask each team member if they are prepared to make a personal commitment and prepare their own personal plan annual plan which includes:
- personal goals
- education and training
- special interest projects
- areas of concern
Sometime before the end of the first month of the new year, have each team member submit their plan to the team and their manager.
As with the company New Year Plan, each individual’s plan should be reviewed throughout the year.