Planning is often discussed by managers as being essential to an organisation’s success, but so many businesses neglect to give it the time and focus it deserves.

The large organisations in Ireland are successful because they understand their capabilities and isolate their goals to maximise their potential.

Munster Rugby have dreams of being European Champions, which requires a structure and plan. For example, the club needs to be versatile to the fact that they will lose key players for French and British clubs that can offer higher wages. This means the organisation need to build a plan that grows talent within the county and attract international talent.

Comprehensive planning sustains the success of a business and is essential to business growth. Without a plan, a vision cannot be achieved.

If you’re in the midst of planning for your business this year, then take a look at our 6 tips below to help you achieve your business goals this year.


1. Define your objective

Your organisation is different to your competitors, suppliers, customers and all other organisations. Your unique situation has a different history and a different future.

You might want to grow your long-term value of the company, maximize short-term cash flow or to advertise your brand effectively to the market.

Having a different vision naturally means you need different objectives and plans to achieve your vision. In this case, one size definitely does not fit all. So before you start, make sure your goals are unique to you and your business, and not just jumping on trends for the sake of them, and that these goals are realistic and achievable for your business.


2. Be Prepared

As Benjamin Franklin famously said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Ask yourself, are there any key events or changes that will impact on my industry this year? And to what extent?

For example, on May 25th there are major changes being brought into effect in relation to how companies gather and utilise data collected from individuals. If a company does not react in advance of these changes, they could find themselves restricted in how they communicate to customers in the future.

A good plan can equip you for specific market opportunities that will pass you by if the structures are not in place for your team to be versatile and act. Remember, it’s better to be proactive than reactive, so research and planning are key.


3. Involve your customers

Gathering data can be essential in modern business, with new insights readily available with modern technology solutions. Be brave and ask your customers questions like; how likely they would be to recommend your company to a friend or colleague and what do they like or dislike about doing business with you?

This will help create an opportunity to build a stronger relationship while getting an external insight into your customer’s needs to you can better serve them.

Although this is an informative process for planning, it will also yield opportunity for repeat business and referral business by communicating you openness to listen.


4. Get front-line employees involved

The staff members on the frontline see the business from a different perspective to the managers. It is essential to use their knowledge and insight as to see where these opportunities are, whether it be in new products, services or to improve internal operations.

Employees very rarely bring these to the attention of management as they are very rarely asked or don’t feel they are in a position to do so.

The process of involving employees within your planning process will have a positive effect in itself. There are huge advantages in opening up these communication channels, whether in person or through a simple survey. Gain an understanding of their biggest challenges and where they see possible opportunities.

You will be surprised by the response you receive that will give you more purpose to planning your decisions for 2018.


5. Write your plan down

Agreeing a plan can make an impact when discussed. However, a written plan is often undermined or forgotten about. Spend the time after your meetings to get the key points down on paper, question it, circulate it to your team, ask for feedback and make it as watertight as possible.

‘How?’ becomes important when writing down a plan. If a company wants to increase profitability by boosting gross margins, it is the ‘How?’ that sets the course to success. Set out the measures you intend to take to reach the objectives and the budget should specify projected profits accordingly.

Reviewing how close you were to reaching a quarterly target or, understanding why you surpassed a milestone, will ensure that your company continues to work together in the same direction.


6. Establish non-financial quarterly goals

Communicating with customers is a changing environment with new technology and practices enabling organisations to connect with customers. An advisable target in the first quarter of the new year is to form a customer-relationship management program. Building relationships comes from personal interaction that should start with a meeting, a phone call, if a meeting is not possible, and an email as the last option.

Alternatively your focus might be to increase efficiency, so the first quarter target could be to organise a lean event that will guide you in streamlining operations.

Actions such as these will produce results in allowing the company to put its best foot forward from the start of the year. Quarterly deliverables make sure that the year does not race away from you and helps you avoid sitting down in December to see you have not pursued these goals.


To Finish

Planning only goes so far. You have to adhere to the plan, so assign goals to your team members to implement, and together you will have a better chance at achieving your targets. Be determined to make 2018 a better year by making the goals indispensable.


Please contact the author, for more details.