Most businesses still fall into the trap of end of year planning, condensed into the final quarter of the year, leaving them in a situation where they don't have enough time to run up to the next financial year properly. Combined with the chaos of end of year in sales, it often has a huge impact on Q1 performance, with many businesses being slow to get off the mark (except for those deals that unfortunately drag over from Q4.)
Delayed planning (especially capacity planning) leads to delayed budget sign offs, which has a knock on effect through the business with delayed team hiring & onboarding, as well as in some cases areas like territories and commissions not being set until Q1.
The uncertainty and lack of direction is not only detrimental to business performance, it effectively leads to businesses executing on growth plans for only 3 quarters of the year.
Why does it happen?
The root cause of leaving the to the end of year falls to the way that planning is built - Spreadsheets.
The constant back and forth of spreadsheet planning makes for a hugely resource intensive task, and one that requires a lot of data and input across multiple departments. The challenge is that when things like targets or business performance changes, it makes for big changes to the plan rendering previous work pretty pointless.
Whilst agile planning is the only way to guarantee effective run-ups to each and every quarter, it’s not easily done (or might not even be possible at all depending on you models & resource)
An approach that means that you have little and often touches and updates to your plan, agile planning (or continuous planning) helps you keep in touch more easily with the decisions you make and their subsequent impacts on progress, as opposed to creating a plan and simply seeing how it plays out from a distance.
So what are the benefits?
Continuous planning allows organizations to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics and evolving business priorities. With regular check-ins and adjustments, you can respond swiftly to new opportunities or challenges, ensuring your strategy remains aligned with the ever-changing landscape.
Enhanced Alignment, Direction & Culture
By planning ahead, you provide your teams with a clearer direction, knowing what lies ahead. With everyone understanding the direction, it fosters collaboration, accountability, and helps build great culture from the top down.
Proactive Resource Management
With continuous planning, you have ample time to allocate resources efficiently, and build sales capacity plans that work. Advanced identification of future helps you secure the necessary budget, personnel, and technology, ensuring smooth execution of your strategic initiatives. Proactive resource management minimizes conflicts and maximizes productivity across departments.
How do I start?
Getting started can be tricky as planning often contains a lot of moving parts, however here's a few tips to get going:
Establish a Planning Cadence:
Set up regular planning sessions throughout the year, ensuring that key stakeholders are involved. This allows for continuous evaluation and adjustment of goals and strategies. These sessions can take the form of quarterly reviews, monthly strategy meetings, or even weekly check-ins, depending on your organization's needs.
Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration:
Encourage open communication and collaboration between different teams and departments. Facilitate knowledge sharing and ensure that all stakeholders have a voice in the planning process. This collaboration will foster a more holistic approach to decision-making and improve the overall effectiveness of your planning efforts.
Leverage Data and technology:
Shifting landscapes means turbulent data, which can have mean constant tweaks to the plan. Using live feeds of data in your planning shields exposes business performance far beyond your active pipeline, allowing you to course correct well ahead of time.
Leaning in to technology that helps with planning, and suggests strategies for you to test or market scenarios that you might face can help you build plans that are resilient to even the toughest conditions and are able to capitalize on opportunity fast.
You might have to finally drop the spreadsheets, but you’re unlikely to ever want to go back.
It’s time that businesses said goodbye to executing for only 3 quarters of the year, and created more sustainable planning approaches that not only lift the burden on other teams, but allow for adaptability all year round, even in the most challenging markets.
Agile planning is an approach that businesses should look to adopt if they’re looing to find capital efficiencies in the way they grow.
Agile planning is a complex and difficult challenge for businesses, and with accurate planning gated behind approaches that leverage live data & advanced models, at Clevenue we believe it can't be properly done in a spreadsheet.
We help businesses to adopt agile capacity planning in a way that helps with predictability, leading to more profitable & sustainable growth.