Creating your first annual plan doesn't have to be difficult. We suggest completing your value assessment, answering financial questions, and building a findings backlog before you begin adding to your plan. Trust us, it will make getting started less complicated and provide more structure.
Our value assessment algorithm will auto-generate recommendations for you that will fall into your findings backlog. Additionally, our analysts and your advisor may add additional findings based on conversations with you and on your answers to our financial questions. Of course, you are welcome to add any additional findings that you believe are necessary or you can add a new objective right from the plan (see article here).
For your first annual plan, we suggest focusing on the high financial impact items that are also easily achievable. You may not have a lot of these items or you may feel that they will not take the entire year to accomplish. You want to make sure you have enough action items for the year, within reason (you don't want to have a large number of incomplete objectives at the end of the year).
Depending on the remaining bandwidth your company will have in the year, you may want to fill in the gaps with easy to achieve items with a lower financial impact, or with items that have a high financial impact but may be more challenging to achieve. This is up to your discretion but we believe it is beneficial to focus on high financial impact items as much as possible. After all, they are expected to increase value more than lower financial impact items. (see this article on rating your findings)
Once you have added your findings, now called objectives, to the annual plan, you will want to work through each objective to assign a value creation strategy (see article here), an owner, a department, due date, priority, and a more detailed description if needed.
Lastly, we suggest assigning objectives to each department to claim and work through. Once this is complete, you are ready to get into more detail with your first quarterly plan.
When Should You Begin Planning for Next Year's Annual Plan?
We recommend planning your upcoming annual plan near the end of Q3/beginning of Q4, around September/October. This provides plenty of time for you, your advisor, and your department heads to schedule time to get together and for each to gather their thoughts and ideas on priorities.