When you start any journey, you need a plan of how you will reach your destination, and navigating to business growth is no different. From sales to production, from reception to senior management, morale and productivity are raised when everyone knows what they are doing, and how they play a part in overall business achievement. How do you make a great business plan? We’ve put together some tips for getting your people, and your technology, to support your vision for the future.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Unless you’re growing mushrooms, there’s no excuse for keeping your business constantly in the dark. It won’t surprise you that people do best when they know exactly what is expected of them, but they also want the sense of achievement that comes with tracking progress towards their own and broader company goals. It is much easier to get their buy in when they have a sense of purpose that comes with seeing where their efforts fit. Getting input from a wide range of roles can also be unexpectedly rewarding – people may approach a challenge from a different angle, giving you more potential solutions.
The 90-day planning trick
Humans struggle with tasks that reach beyond 90 days, so your larger five or ten-year business aims need to be broken down into quarterly blocks. This gives a focus that offers achievable, frequent rewards. Limiting the plan to one or two key goals each quarter is wise – overloading any individual can dilute focus and leave staff feeling frazzled.
Use business planning software like Microsoft Planner
There are plenty of apps around to help you create a business plan, but for most organisations, Microsoft Planner fits the bill. It comes as part of almost all Office 365 subscriptions, so you probably already pay for it – and if you want to get the most from your Office 365 subscription, this is a part of your subscription you’ll be very happy to put to work.
Planner makes it easy to create new overall plans. Suppose your plan is to increase repeat sales from your customer base: you might then allocate tasks and deadlines to sales, marketing, customer service, even your technology partner. Team members can check off the task when completed, and anyone in the business can see their progress. Never under-estimate the satisfaction that comes from checking off a task!
Microsoft Planner has some great collaboration tools, so that everyone involved can see who is doing what, communicate about challenges or actions, and seek help from outside the group. As you might expect, Planner is tightly integrated with Microsoft Outlook, so a team member will know immediately when they have a task. Where once, task information may have been scattered between email, SMS, spreadsheet and other siloes of information, now it is all gathered in a single place, so that new team members can quickly bring themselves up to speed.
It is no good telling production to double output this quarter when the necessary equipment won’t arrive for ten weeks. It is human nature to lose morale when a set task is out of reach – that said, don’t under-challenge your people either, as it can have a similar effect.
Meet regularly to assess progress
It is important to reflect on what went well, what lessons can be learned, and what has changed. Actively identify problems and seek solutions, then update the plan to accommodate any changes.
Whether you’re planning to grow your business, address a problem or improve your brand image, a clear plan that is managed well will make the journey easier, and give you the best chance of reaching your destination on time.
Need to know more about harnessing Office 365 to help your team work more effectively, or how it can help you grow your business? Contact our friendly Microsoft experts.
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