In the last post I explained the reasons why I implemented the quarterly action planning process. Now I will reveal the detail to you so that you can adopt a similar process in your business.
Quarterly Action Planning
The quarterly action planning process that I introduced a couple of years ago into my business has revolutionised it in terms of efficiency. This is a great time of year for you to introduce a similar system as well. I know that it will work for you.
Start with your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)
This term always makes me laugh. You can call it your one “big
business goal” for the year or your “prime objective”. It really doesn’t
matter. It is the one thing that you see as more important than anything else
in terms of business growth and development.
As an example I may decide that my prime objective for 2019
is to purchase £5 million worth of property. I don’t know how I am going to
achieve that yet and that doesn’t matter when you are deciding on your BHAG.
Using the quarterly action planning process will help you to actually achieve
If you are not used to creating yearly prime objectives then
I urge you to do so. After I started to do this I found that everything fell
into place and I could focus my actions, and those of my employees, to reach
Some people ask me if you should have more than one big goal per year. For a business the size of mine one is certainly enough. If you have a larger business then it is possible to have more than one BHAG. But always bear in mind that focus is really important, and if you have too many goals you can end up achieving none of them.
Break your BHAG down into Sub Goals
After deciding on my one big goal I will then break this
down into a number of sub goals ( 5 – 7 is a good number). These dovetail into
the BHAG and they are all about how I am going to achieve my prime objective.
If I want to purchase £5 million worth of property in 2019
then I will need to achieve certain sub goals. For example, I will need a
number of new investors to fund the property purchases so a sub goal for me
could be to “find 10 new investors”. Buying properties means appraising deals
so another sub goal could be to “appraise 50 new deals”.
These sub goals are very important because they will be broken down into smaller chunks and they will feed into my quarterly action planning process. For example, if I want to appraise 50 new deals this year then there are certain steps that I need to go through to achieve this number.
Focus Areas and Action Steps
To add even more structure into my quarterly action planning
process I decided that I would have three focus areas each quarter. One of the
main reasons that I did this is because it was very easy for me to come up with
a huge list of tasks to meet a sub goal. But this can be overwhelming and I
needed to be realistic about what I could achieve in 3 months.
So I created focus areas. These are areas of my business
which need improvement. Examples of this could be marketing, automation and
systems, the sales process and so on. Within each of these focus areas there are
between 10 and 14 action steps assigned to different individuals in the
I use a quarterly action planning sheet which has a start
and end date, each focus area, the action steps within that focus area, who is
responsible for delivering each action and the target date for completing the
Success Criteria and Key KPI’s
It’s fine to have an organised list of action steps under
focus areas assigned to different individuals. But how do I know whether an
action or set of actions is delivering the results that I want to achieve?
The answer to this is the use of “success criteria” and a “key
KPI” (Key Performance Indicator) for each focus area. You cannot manage what
you cannot measure, and I want to be sure that what we were doing is taking the
business in the right direction. I didn’t want to develop a “busy business”
that was really going nowhere.
Success criteria relate to a task or collection of tasks. When I was in the processes of automation I decided that initially I wanted some of the automation tasks to save at least 20 hours of work per month. By deciding on this specific success criterion I could measure if the actions were successful or not in saving the working hours.
A key focus KPI is more high level. For example, I had a sub goal where I wanted to agree on a number of sites for the sourcing of land for development projects. The KPI that I set for this was “Sites agreed”.
Adding “Realism” to the Quarterly Action Planning process
Sometimes normal business activities will get in the way of
you achieving all of your actions in a quarter. I knew that this would happen
so I set realistic targets for action achievement. If an opportunity arises for
the business to make money then the action steps are always going to be
secondary to this. So, I decided on a target of 80% completion of all actions
as recommended in the Traction book mentioned previously. It is not realistic
to expect to get every action step completed, but a good target to work towards
What do I do with the actions that are not completed? Well
if they are still important to the business going forward and I want to
maintain that specific focus area then I roll these into the next quarterly
planning cycle. I discuss why we didn’t complete certain actions with my team
and then decide whether to keep them going or not.
I found that as we were working through the tasks in the
various focus areas that other tasks would naturally emerge. I assess these
additional tasks for importance. If they were important and we could complete
them quickly then we do them. If they need more time I roll them into the next
When I come up with a new idea (or anyone else does) I assess
it for importance too. I then add the idea to the next quarter if I want to go
ahead with it. This ensures that I do not disrupt the current actions with a
When designing my quarterly action planning process I split the system into different departments such as higher level planning, finance, sales, marketing, operations etc. I add every new idea or task to the appropriate category in my project management system. I then go through everything that is outstanding when planning the next quarter’s actions.
A Very Effective System of Management
Since I have introduced this quarterly action planning
process into my business it has become a lot more efficient. We have saved
hundreds of hours through automation and the resulting amounts of money on
wages. My employees are able to perform higher level work as opposed to the
mundane. They are now able to focus more on the customers and finding new
I now have an automated system in my business that takes
care of everything including emails, viewings, customer onboarding and so on.
I can say without a doubt that my quarterly action planning
process has made my business a lot more efficient. My team and I are now able
to focus on growing the business rather than dealing with everyday minutia. I
strongly recommend that you introduce a quarterly action planning process into
your business right now.