We will review Step 4 of your business plan, completing the detailed action plans.
Step 4 is where you can fully tap into the talent and resources of your employees. The approach you take will depend on the size and structure of your company.
If you are organized around traditional departmental lines, such as marketing, sales, operations, and finance, the action plan format in the workbook will work well for you.
In smaller companies, these departmental responsibilities are shared and individuals may have several roles. However, following the workbook will ensure you cover all areas in a coordinated set of action plans.
Let’s start with something I call Critical Impediments:
Before jumping into the specific action plans, we suggest you spend a few minutes listing your “Critical Impediments”.
This can be done on a corporate level, and in larger companies, by any other organization lines, such as division, department, region, business line, etc.
Try brainstorming without limiting the ideas. This will help “prime the pump” as you begin more focused discussion under each Action Plans section.
The Action Plans section of the Workbook is designed to guide the creation of “to do” lists in all sections of your business.
If you are working with a team, this, again, is where brainstorming techniques work well, and then distil the ideas into a manageable priority list
Notice, the format for documenting the action plans has 4 columns (see Marketing Plan,:
The key to success in executing the plan is to ensure that each activity has a “person responsible” for it’s completion, and a completion target date.
Bear in mind, the person responsible may not be the person who performs all the tasks within that action item, but is the ultimate “owner” of the project, and must report out on the result at the next plan review session.
1st column, Discussion/Action Item – Here you capture a short description of the activity, perhaps with the rationale. You want enough information here to easily pick up the discussion at a late review, but stick to the headlines, not the full story.
2nd column, Person responsible – the individual who is accountable for ensuring the action item is carried out and will report back at the next review period. Remember, this person doesn’t necessarily do the work, but ensures it gets done, calling in any other resources, internally or externally, as needed.
3rd column, Completion date: although we recommend quarterly reviews, not all action items may need to be competed each quarter. As you assess your priorities, and resources, you will find some activities will need to wait until later in the year. It’s better to record the items needed to be done, then defer to a later completion date, than leave them off the list. This is where the “sanity” part kicks in. It’s a huge stress reliever when you see all the work that needs to be done, scheduled over a realistic time frame, that everyone understands.
4th column, Cost – this column can be used to flush out potential capital cost investments or added resources. The intent here is to identify potential cost areas, not to focus on actual numbers. You will find this a helpful tool for budgeting.
Remember, your action plans need to relate to the general strategies listed in the BP summary.
They can be organized directly from the broad strategies list in the BP Summary document, or you can follow the Workbook format, and , each department can create action plans that support the larger strategies listed in the Business Plan summary.
For example, the Sales Manager and sales team will have a major contribution to the marketing and sales plans, but could also have some action items that relate to improved customer service, or financial controls.
Similarly, those working more on the operations side of the business, may have action plans to support the sales or marketing goals of the company.
Needless to say, you want avoid “silo-ing” and keep everyone working collectively towards the corporate goals.
Let’s take a look at the Marketing Plan as an example,
For this work book we distinguish between marketing and sales activities as two different but related processes
Your Marketing Plan is any activity that:
- Builds the company brand, and
- involves communication with your existing clients and new prospects
With the ultimate goal of generating new business opportunities for the company
The Sales Plan addresses all activities, processes, and tools to manage an unqualified lead through to the close of a contract, sale, and beyond, into a long term relationship (these customer for life that we all want)
The workbook is designed to help you target specific goals within each business area, that are meaningful, and practical for each business section, and also support the larger corporate goals.
For example, the marketing plan may have its own 12 month goals:
- increase the number of new leads from x to y (use quantifiable language whenever possible)
- Develop a social media component to our marketing program
- Launch marketing campaign in new region
Again, there is a thin line between a goal and strategy, the “how to do” it part. Don’t spend a lot of energy on the semantics. The key is creating a “to do” list, select a champion to lead the project, and set a reasonable completion date.
Once you compete this section of your work book, you will have a compete set of action plans that address all aspects of your business.
You also have the tools you need to help everyone understand their contribution to the whole picture, and how their fellow employees are involved in moving the company towards its goals. The stage is set for collaboration between departments, as everyone has a clear picture of what needs to be achieved.
The last step is to consolidate your actions plans into a single list and identify the priorities for the next quarter.
Now return to your work book and draft your action plans for each section of your business.