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The Route to Planning Success: Learning and Adjusting Along the Way

Planning is essential for all effective organizations. However, the value of planning is greatly diminished without ongoing execution, tracking, and adjusting throughout each year.

Imagine planning a long drive across the country.  If your goal is efficiency, you’ll plot out the shortest, safest course.  If your goal is leisure, you may plot a longer, more scenic trip. Either way, imagine being a quarter or halfway into your trip and finding that your planned route is unexpectedly blocked.  Your goal of completing the trip remains, so it’s time to adjust your plan, consider detours, and assess what else might need to change.  Will the trip take longer?  Will you need more gas or stops?  Do you need to reconsider your final destination?

This scenario illustrates something we all know about planning and executing – no plan is perfect and unanticipated challenges will inevitably arise.  This is especially true when the truly unexpected occurs, such as the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic confronting society and organizations across the world.

What is your approach to evaluating your plans, identifying roadblocks, and making needed course corrections along the way?  One method is to instill planning discipline and tracking through a formal “mid-year” execution review process.  Goals of a mid-year process include:

  • Evaluating operational and financial performance.
  • Reviewing execution of planned tactics and actions.
  • When needed, designing corrective action and adjusting budgets.
  • Facilitating open and direct communication and feedback.
  • Refocusing activities on top organizational priorities.

Plan4 is here to help you implement an effective and simple structure for monitoring execution of Business Plans using the 4Cast platform.

Below are ideas for organizing and conducting “mid-year” progress reviews with each Department or key function within your Organization.

Best Practices and Tips for Holding Mid-Year Service-level Business Plan Progress Reviews

Summary: Mid-Year Progress Reviews are scheduled checkpoints with each Department in your Organization. The purpose of conducting reviews is to assess each Department’s year-to-date plan progress, budget performance, and any needed changes for the rest of the year.
When: Either Quarterly or Semi-Annually during the Fiscal Year
Who: Department Directors/Managers

Finance Team Members

Select Executive Team Members

HR Support

How: The organization’s POC for Business Planning schedules 30 – 60 minute meetings with each Department in the organization. The meeting room used for the review should provide a computer/screen where 4Cast and other pertinent data can be displayed.
Suggested Topics:
  1. Tactical Objective Performance – Has the Department completed planned Tactical Objectives in a timely manner?   What Objectives and Action items are still outstanding?
  2. General Performance – Is the Department meeting its overall performance targets and planned milestones? Are there any performance opportunities or challenges that have arisen during the year?
  3. Financial Performance – Has the Department utilized resources within its budget allocation? Are there any resources areas where they are projected to significantly over or under execute for the rest of the year?
  4. What’s changed? – Are there any new directives or priorities affecting the Department?   What aspects of plans or budgets may need to be re-evaluated or changed to help improve current performance?
Helpful Tips: Being Prepared will Save Time – Before sessions, Department leaders should review and update budget data in 4Cast, update Tactical Objective status, and attach supplemental performance data. Departments can use the “Comments” feature in 4Cast Monitoring to document updates and status notes.

Not Just a Budget Review – Mid-year reviews provide a great opportunity to look holistically at the Department’s overall performance. If your Organization is already conducting regular performance reviews, consider incorporating an analysis of budget performance into one integrated review.

Follow Through – Assign action items and ownership/dates for follow-up.   Ensure changes are captured in 4Cast, to include modifying Business Plans as well as budget targets for the rest of the year. When appropriate, significant resource requests should be referred to for formal review/approval.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

How can the Plan4HC team help you with mid-year reviews? Contact us today at 4castsupport@plan4hc.com to discuss how we can support your process.

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