We’ve passed the halfway point of the year, which means that many proactive businesses will already be contemplating the coming year. In the next few months, many companies will start their annual planning phase.
Annual business plans are great for keeping companies on track and ensuring progress. Many marketers prefer shorter plans, say 90 day or even 30 day plans. Such plans can be great, but it’s important to have a bigger vision of your longer aims. That’s where an annual plan comes in.
While short-term plans often focus on specific departments or campaigns, your annual plan should offer a company-wide vision. Of course, departments should also be mentioned, and even individual teams, but it should be within the context of the larger company. However, annual plans can be a detriment to your company when approached the wrong way.
That’s why we’re going to take a moment to go over five vital tips for ensuring that your annual plan is a successful, positive part of your business.
1. No Annual Plan Is Set in Stone
Your annual plan is not an inviolable text. It’s vital to understand this because sometimes a company becomes so obsessed with achieving their annual plan that they forget about everything else. Huge mistake.
You should periodically reassess your annual plan. Every financial quarter is a good bet. At least once at the midpoint of the year is all but necessary. As you review the plan, you’ll check off what you’ve done. You’ll also identify what hasn’t been done and what you need to prioritize to get done.
Just as importantly, you should review goals that may no longer fit with your company’s best interests. Some goals might not be feasible. Some might be superfluous. Doesn’t matter. Finally, as you review your plan, you can start to think of your next annual plan.
2. Prioritize and Use Resources Wisely
Your plan should remain beholden to the realities on the ground. Your goal in pursuing your annual plan isn’t to check off a bunch of tasks, but instead to improve your business and its prospects. Fact is, you likely won’t be able to achieve everything you want because resources are finite.
85% of creative pros report that content generation isn’t enough to keep up with demand. Quiz other people in your business and you’re likely to get similar results. There’s almost always a shortage as far as resources go. That’s why you need to prioritize. Cut dead weight, even if the goals and tasks are in your annual plan. Focus on accomplishing tasks that will add value, even if they aren’t in your annual plan.
3. Make Sure You Set Reasonable and Achievable Goals
One mistake some managers make when setting plans is to make the plan simply too ambitious, even impossible to achieve. In theory, you think you’re encouraging your employees to stretch a bit further, going beyond their means. More likely, your employees will look at their goals, realize they are impossible to achieve, and thus lose hope, along with productivity. So writing down achievable goals improves productivity for your employees and for your company in the end.
Set ambitious goals, yes, but also set reasonable and achievable ones. Further, you should leave some buffer time in your plans at every level. Some projects are going to get tied up, some employees are going to get worn out, disruptions are going to happen. By having a bit of buffer time, you can help reduce stress, which keeps people on task.
Asking your employees to go above and beyond is fine from time to time but be reasonable in your expectations.
4. Consider Outside Resources
Annual plans are often inwardly focused. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. However, it’s important to also have an understanding of what outside resources are available and how you can use them. This is especially important in regard to your budget. All too often, the annual plan’s budget doesn’t reflect the actual reality of the day.
So, ask yourself:
- Does your outsourcing make financial sense? Are there ways to cut costs by bringing work inside, or conversely, by outsourcing?
- How much time and resources are you spending managing outside contractors?
- Is there a way to consolidate the number of agencies and contractors you work with?
- Can you reduce duplicate efforts, such as multiple people working with one agency or contractor?
5. Become Software Empowered
Work-management tools can greatly increase productivity and output. Quite simply, the right work management tools make it much easier for companies to achieve the goals in their annual plans, and other goals as well. That’s because such software makes it much easier to keep everyone on track and to ensure that information is consolidated and accessible.
The time that employees spend managing simple tasks, such as simple schedules, can instead be used to achieve the company’s goals. Automation software:
- Enables easy online collaboration between internal and external parties
- Manages workflows and requests, including review and editing processes
- Keeps schedules updated and visible, and communication lines open
- Automates countless repeatable, manual, and time-consuming tasks (such as sending out reminder emails).
In Conclusion: Turn Your Plan into Reality
So, what’s the point of all of this? Your main objective should be to pursue your company’s best interests, including goals as outlined in your annual plan. No, your annual plan isn’t infallible, but if it’s thoughtfully written, it’ll be an asset that you can rely on.
By following the above tips for annual productivity planning you can maximize your company’s achievements. Better yet, as you achieve your goals, you’re going to improve your planning and execution abilities. This, in turn, will help you craft better annual plans and execution capacities in the future.
Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that helps managers maximize their annual plan. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…