There have been companies which have failed because of improper planning and poor implementation. Imagine yourself walking blindly in a room which has nails kept on the floor haphazardly. You will be hurt badly. Similarly, launching a product or implementing a new strategy without proper planning is like walking blind in a dark room. You are bound to get hurt.
There are 6 different factors which are involved in planning. Each of these factors is crucial to form an impeccable plan which brings good results. The 6 factors involved in planning are as follows.
1) Management and Executive time / input – Planning needs a 360 degree approach. The executive and middle level managers of your company are the ones most in touch with the end customers. They know the external environment and competition in and out. Thus taking regular inputs from the ground level staff is important. Once the management has this input, they can take the right decisions and form a plan to implement new strategies. This new plan can bring better results for the company. However, gathering input from middle and lower level managers should be encouraged by the top management itself.
2) Commitment – There is no use of making a time table or having an organizer if you don’t use it. Similarly, there is no use of planning if you do not follow it. While planning, you should not ignore the time and resource commitments you will have to make to implement the plan. Furthermore, the top companies generally has a whole team dedicated to the job of watching over the plans being implemented across the company and whether or not these plans are taking effect. This planning team can guide the various departments if they are straying away from the desired planning output.
3) Cost – No plan is complete without the costing factor. There is a software known as business planning pro. This software which does business planning for you has 60–80% of tools which are focused on financial planning and forecasting. Determining the cost of implementing your plan is crucial. If the end result is going to give you 1000 dollars in profit but the cost of implementing the plan is 1500 dollars, then the plan is unviable for you. This is why costing is very important and is done extensively during the planning stage. Another factor which also needs to be taken into consideration is the contingency costing. If your plan fails, and if you have to implement a contingency plan, than what will that contingency plan cost? Thus you can understand from this that planning answers many levels of questions and sub questions.
4) Research – Research was initially used by only the top organizations. At that time, research was for discovering new products and finding new markets. However, with a tremendous increase in buying power, competition and the overall options available to consumers, research has become a necessity. In today’s world, if you need to find whether a customer is satisfied with you – you need to conduct a research. To find whether a new product will be accepted in the market or not – you need to conduct research. To know more about your competitors – You need to conduct research. This is restricted not only to the top companies, but also to the SME’s and various small organizations out there. Thus today, research has to be applied to planning. Your planning cannot proceed without proper research and statistical analysis to support your forecasts.
5) Assumptions – Although it does not sound a very important part of planning, it is nonetheless equally important as any other step. You need to make some assumptions as you go along with the plan. Assumptions like, what if your plan fails? What if there are some unforeseen events? What if your plan succeeds faster than you expected? These are some circumstances not under your control. These outcomes are fairly possible in any plan you make. Thus you need to have contingencies for such assumptions in your planning. An advertising agency will generally have 2–3 creatives. If one fails, they will immediately implement another. This is only because of the assumption factor. If we simply assume, that the plan will succeed, than we will have no contingencies if the plan fails.
6) Review – This is as basic a step as possible. Whatever you implement, you have to review to learn further and to improve your planning. The review will tell you whether or not the plan was implemented properly. If the results were good, the plan was proper. Thus you will get some positive learning’s from the plan which will help you in the future. If the results were bad, you need to know which part in the plan was not implemented / planned properly. You need to make the necessary changes and implement an altogether new plan if necessary. Whether the results are good or bad, there’s always scope for improvement.
This planning and review process goes on in a cyclical manner until a positive result can be obtained. In today’s fast paced and dynamic marketing environment, business planning is absolutely critical to the success of any business venture.