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How to Approach the Annual Planning Process

There is a lot of conversation around the annual planning process each and every year and I spoke about building a corporate and marketing plan in a prior blog post. As opposed to jumping into the deep end of the annual planning pool it may be wise to think about how you want to go about this process in your company, despite history.

What is the Best Way to Approach the Annual Planning Process? In the extreme cases, there are way too many people involved or there is an exorbitant amount of time spent and the resulting number of PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents that are generated are incomprehensible. Another approach might be where the functional teams submit plans up the chain that are sent back for “refinement” until the functional groups simply ask what numbers they are supposed to submit. Neither of these approaches is really a service to the organization so what’s a better way? One approach is to provide some top down guidance that would allow the functional groups to develop organic plans that actually dovetail together. The critical success factor for this to occur is to have a planning document (a one pager) that summarizes key information that would provide guidance but allow for creativity and subject matter expertise at the functional level. To level set, let’s start the discussion from the top. What is an Annual Corporate Plan?