Here’s a quick rundown of how we structure our monthly business plans review meetings, as well as what has worked for us in the past.
Meetings, according to the majority of people, are a waste of time. They are correct.
Too many meetings are poorly conducted, lack a clear goal, and squander employees’ time, which reduces productivity.
There is a wealth of advice and information available on how to hold better meetings for monthly business plans and reduce the number of ineffective meetings that slow down your organization. I strongly advise you to be brutal in your quest for fewer and more productive meetings.
However, at Palo Alto Software, we’ve discovered one meeting that is really essential. It simply takes an hour once a month and keeps the management team informed about everything that is going on in the firm, as well as assisting us in planning and managing in a lean and effective manner.
For years, the meeting has been a staple of our management strategy, and it is simply one of the most successful ways for us to continue to expand the firm while also making required course corrections.
Business planning isn’t a one-time or annual affair for us. Instead, it’s a continuous process in which we regularly evaluate our procedures and modify courses as needed to ensure that we’re on track to meet our bigger objectives.
We view planning as a management tool that aids in the direction of decisions and strategy, rather than a document.
Monthly business plans review meetings
1. Let’s look at the numbers
We always begin by looking at the numbers. How did we fare last month in comparison to our expectations? How did we fare in comparison to the same month the previous year? What has been our year-to-date performance?
We always spend time delving deeper into the figures, beyond the top-line revenue and expenses, in order to better understand the factors that influenced our results. Did all of the product lines function admirably? Or did some people fall short of expectations? Did we stick to our budget or did we go overboard in some areas?
Above all, we assess our cash position and cash flow. Is the money collection going as planned? What does our cash flow outlook for the coming months look like?
While financial reports can be studied without attending a meeting, doing so as a group stimulates questions and conversations about our earnings and spending.
Of course, we review our figures in LivePlan because it’s a lot easier than digging through QuickBooks or Xero export reports. However, you can always start with a simple Excel cash flow template.
2. Are we close to our destination?
We assess our “key milestones”—the big tasks we wanted to complete in the previous month and our intentions for the coming month—after we review our financial performance.
We talk about how different teams might collaborate on different projects and what precise milestones we have set for ourselves. Are these still the approaches we want to focus on in order to attain our objectives? Do we need to reorganize our priorities? Is there any fresh information or learning that would require us to alter our schedule?
We can stay agile and make changes as needed by reviewing significant initiatives on a monthly basis. We may change our strategies and set new milestones as we gain a better understanding of our consumers and market.
3. Long-term objectives and strategy
We then go over our long-term strategic objectives. While this doesn’t happen very often in our circumstance as a well-established company, young companies may find themselves shifting their strategy regularly as they look for a viable business model.
This step of the meeting may be the most significant and time-consuming for those early-stage firms. This portion of the meeting may just take a few minutes for more established companies.
We evaluate our lean plan, or one-page business plan (known as the Pitch in LivePlan), instead of digging deep into a 40-page business plan document to review our strategy. Our corporate identity, the primary problem we solve for our clients, our solution, competition, and sales and marketing strategy are all covered in this document. It’s everything on one page, making it simple to read, review, and edit.
4. Processing issues
Finally, anyone on the team can bring up any issues they’d like to talk about. This could include new business prospects, product feature prioritization, potential alliances, or internal HR difficulties.
Everything is fair game, and we make every effort to find solutions and next steps for each problem that arises.
This style of open-ended debate has shown to be quite effective in generating new ideas and bringing different perspectives from managers from various teams together.
A monthly business plans, in my opinion, would be beneficial to all businesses. These meetings keep everyone on the same page, allow for the sharing of progress information, and convert plans into a tool that assists teams in making educated decisions.
You must also follow a few rules in order to have a good monthly strategy meeting:
1. Make a note of the meeting in your calendar
It’s critical to make it a scheduled official function. It cannot be optional, and it must take place at a set time so that everyone is aware of when the meeting will take place.
We began by holding meetings on the third Thursday of each month. We’ve been able to move our meeting to the second Friday of the month as our bookkeeping and accounting systems have improved.
2. Stick to a schedule that you can count on
While diverse subjects will come up for discussion, having a repeatable agenda for your plan review meeting is critical.
That involves making sure your stats are ready for review and that your staff is up to date on their objectives.
3. Be flexible with your plans
These plan review sessions aren’t simply about staying on track and following the plan to the letter. Instead, they’re about tweaking the strategy. Perhaps you’ll realize that you need to spend more money on marketing, or that you’ll be able to expand and recruit more quickly than you anticipated.
The purpose of the plan review meeting is to make changes to your goals and strategies based on what you’ve learned during the last month.