In my four-part blog series, I’m discussing common planning challenges and offering best practices that can help companies improve efficiencies and gain strategic advantage. In my last blog post “Don’t Miss the Mark!” I discuss what executives need to consider when business planning. In Part 3, I talk about getting the right people involved to support continuous planning and innovation by providing data to help executives make informed decisions.
Are you already mapping investments to business drivers and outcomes? Maybe your organization has even shortened the annual planning cycle and manages investments throughout the year instead of relying on the finance driven processes to drive decisions. You can now focus planning on which investments provide the biggest value for the portfolio buck. In short, management is creating a culture that encourages an open dialog around why projects slip, should have never started or ended before completion, and the value of new investments and opportunities.
Appoint a Leader to Drive Planning and Innovation
Maturity is a beautiful thing. However, finding the right person to successfully lead and invoke change while driving innovation is challenging. There are titles and roles aplenty – Portfolio Manager, Director of Corporate Portfolio Planning, Director of Business Planning, Strategic planner, Business Relationship Manager, Director of Finance, IT Director, or Business Director. I recommend to appoint a specific person to lead the planning process and ensure the data and technology are meeting the business needs.
While the titles may vary widely, they all share the same goal of bridging the gaps between executives, the business, IT, the PMO, and Finance. And the same challenges – frustrated executives, heavy administrative budgeting process, and execution teams focused more on governance rather than results.
Put simply, it’s an uphill battle. Pressured to meet finance demands, these leaders are tasked with getting the entire organization to think strategically about planning and innovation. Creating agility in decision making is easier said than done – even when using real-time information to create a strategic plan with shorter cycles.
While it is a tough role, executives are putting smart, motivated individuals in the job. They know the larger and more bureaucratic the organization, the more challenging it is to move the needle. The biggest hurdle is getting the execution side to shift away from governance and budgetary compliance. Only then can they deliver the data necessary to feed back into the business drivers around outcomes.
Establish Continuous Planning As the New Norm
Some organizations start with the annual budgeting process and mature to a point where the high-level estimates are driving the business from a portfolio perspective. Once they move away from annual budgeting, they can create a more agile process. As the view of the annual budget evolves into a continuous process, planning can occur based on resource capacity. You’ve arrived at the best-case scenario when the organization is now revisiting projects monthly. Now, funds can be reallocated and resources shifted to higher value projects.
In Part 4, I’ll review how often mature organizations should adjust and revisit their plan and how to ensure a healthy investment portfolio. Stayed tuned!
Want to dig deeper? Read this solution brief A New Approach to Planning. It dives into the investment and capacity planning capabilities I helped bring to market with the input from many of our customers. It lets you do things like rank investments, analyze investments, balance resources, and compare scenarios to ensure you are fulfilling portfolio objectives. How is your organization currently thinking about planning? Is it continuous or annual? Who owns the collection of the data? Share by leaving a comment below.