If you search Amazon.com for books with “business plan” in the title you may be surprised and overwhelmed to find over 3000 items to review. To save you time let me suggest a framework and approach that works well for most businesses. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that:
- Business plans and Business strategy documents are very different and have very different purposes
- Business plans must be short and simple to understand
- Business plans must lead to action
- Business plans must include KPI’s to measure actions
- Business plans are living documents that are best reviewed monthly and must be reviewed at least every quarter with all owners of the plan
- Business plans should be shared widely in a business
The Webster dictionary defines plan “as a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something”…….“something that a person intends to do.” So plans are action documents which may be produced at the start of a year, but they are NEVER left in the draw until the end of the year. A simple model that works well from my experience is the balanced scorecard.
The concept of the balanced scorecard predates the work of Robert Kaplan and David Norton by at least 30 years. Many US businesses including General Electric and DuPont were developing performance measurement frameworks that added non-financial measures to traditional financial metrics to provide managers and Boards with a broader or more balanced view of performance. The greater application of computers in business, spreadsheets and the use of graphical displays in the 1980’s provided new ways to look at multiple areas in a business.
The concept of balance is applied to align goals/actions as the following diagram illustrates to address finance, business processes, the customer/products and the people who work in the business.
As a CEO I developed an interpretation of the balanced scorecard that is very suitable for small and medium business. Experience has also demonstrated it is well suited to a larger business where complexity can be reduced when a simple planning model is embraced. In its simplest form the plan can be just a few pages and if you would like to receive a copy of a model plan just email firstname.lastname@example.org