Mature Organizations Continuously Plan Throughout the Year, Not Just Annually
In this four-part series, I’m discussing planning challenges and offering best practices that can help companies improve efficiencies and gain strategic advantage.
- Is the Annual Process Disconnected from the Realities of Your Business?
- Don’t Miss the Mark! What Executives Need to Consider When It Comes to Business Planning
- Get the Right People Involved to Support Continuous Planning and Innovation
In Part IV, the last blog in the series, I talk about how often organizations should adjust their plan to ensure a business driven investment portfolio to create a results-oriented culture.
Ready to move from an annual budget mired in manual processes to nimble portfolio planning where you are executing on the most important business outcomes? Remember, it’s impossible to assess and evaluate new priorities, shift out or end investments if you can’t see the forest for the trees – or the results from the departmental budgeting process.
By embracing an agile system that can be used across the organization to determine strategic outcomes, you’ll be able to quickly reallocate funding and resources. If you are really results-oriented, you’ll want to schedule monthly reviews to reallocate funding and resources. At the very least, your business should be doing this quarterly. Once per year isn’t enough.
By integrating execution into your planning processes, you create the ability to continually assess your plan throughout the year. Imagine, not only being able to do monthly evaluations to adjust and adapt your plan based on real-time information from execution, but continuously at any time when either management has some new idea they want to evaluate or external markets and customers start applying new pressures.
How would you like to have created a process and a culture that is able to take such events and assess them objectively through various scenarios the organization may consider without major disruption, but instead organized change? And then, upon making decisions, the organization is able to react appropriately and adapt to the new plan? That’s what continuous planning looks like!
Being able to evaluate and adapt to this constant change can be challenging but immensely rewarding if done properly. Tackle it head on as changes in strategic direction will raise questions of unplanned demand and fluctuating capacity. That’s okay. They should. A good process which has a plan in place with execution regularly feeding it with updated information provides the foundation to be able to evaluate potential changes against the in-flight plan and create scenarios based on various factors. A thoughtful evaluation enables better communication and a culture that can adapt as they understand that evaluating the plan along the way ultimately results in them successfully meeting the business needs and adding value to the organization.
Continuous planning leads to looking beyond a fixed one-year budget into a rolling planning horizon. How would you like to reduce the time spent and the disruptive nature of the annual planning process? You can! By continuously planning throughout the year, you eliminate the need for a disruptive manual collection of ideas at a single point in time in an attempt to create an annual wish list.
In summary, understanding how the work you invest resources in to support business outcomes enables you to create more than a budget, but rather a business plan. Instead of creating this manually on an annual basis, integrating execution provides regular evaluation of the plan throughout the year to continually validate it and better handle un-planned ideas and needs – from customers, the market, and executives. This provides the ability to evaluate and create various scenarios for consideration and effectively adapt when decisions are made to adjust the plan. By integrating the strategic plan and execution you also enable the organization to move beyond annual plans and budgets to a rolling horizon that will ultimately reduce the disruptive nature of an annual process while reducing the effort it takes across the organization by many so many resources.
Additionally, if you are leading an IT PMO, you position yourself as an integral part of the business proving important metrics to capture the true business drivers and meaningful risk associated with project results – not just the project lifecycle or governance itself.