June 20, 2019
Time to Update Your Business Plan?
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Events seldom unfold as planned—your competitors change, the business environment changes, customer preferences change, and the economy changes—consider the price of oil and the value of the currency! Because of these and other factors, your Business Plan should be a living document and updated regularly.
I always considered an annual review and update to be mandatory, with a minor review and validation semi-annually. In addition, I would have a one-page condensed version of the Plan readily available for review at all times to confirm that our execution was consistent with the current business environment and that we were on target.
Most business plans are not kept current; many are often two or three years old, which essentially makes it a work of fiction. Several assumptions would have been made when the last SWOT analysis was done—are those assumptions still valid? And are your core competencies still valid and working for you?
They most certainly would have changed if more than a year has gone by, and that indicates it is time for a review and update. And after a year or two, it is unlikely you are still executing the Plan as it was originally written.
Don’t worry about the Vision, Mission and Value Statements; they should be timeless and not require changing, but do a quick review and make sure they are still consistent with the overall strategic direction of the business. However, the Critical Success Factors, Goals, Objectives, Action Plans and KPIs are probably not current with today’s competitive and business environment if they are more than a year old.
You may, in fact, be doing better than you had originally planned; however, who’s to say you could not be doing better with an up-to-date Business Plan? And if you are not doing as well as expected, it is certainly time to update the Plan—probably with a major rewrite.
Time spent planning is seldom wasted; and as a leader, you must set aside the time to do careful planning—your team deserves to know where they are going, how you are going to lead them there, and what specific contributions they are expected to make.
Successful companies in the 21st century will be those with a clear sense of purpose — with specific goals, objectives and action plans that are fully implemented and supported by a well-defined strategic direction.
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