The most important single component of a real business plan is a review schedule. This sets the plan into the context of management. It makes it clear to everybody involved (even if that’s just you) that the plan is going to be reviewed and revised regularly. All the people charged with executing a business plan have to know when the plan will be reviewed, and by whom. This makes it clear that the plan will be a live management tool, not something to be put away on a shelf and forgotten.
For example, in Palo Alto Software, we established the third Thursday of every month as the “plan review meeting” day. In the old days, we brought in lunch and took over the conference room. It wasn’t a big deal. We were done in 90 minutes. But we scheduled all the meetings as part of the next year’s plan, and key team members knew they should attend, and wanted to be there. Absences happened, but only when they were unavoidable.
If your planning process includes a good plan — with specific responsibilities assigned, managers committed, budgets, dates, and measurability — then the review meetings become easier to manage and attend. The agenda of each meeting should be predetermined by the milestones coming due soon, and milestones recently due. Managers review and discuss plan vs. actual results, explaining and analyzing the differences.
Even if it’s just you in your business, you should still do a monthly review. We all benefit from the discipline of a scheduled time to take a step back from the day to day, review progress, analyze results, and make changes. That’s called management.
LivePlan includes an ideal scheduling tool for planning and scheduling the monthly reviews. The illustration here shows some of the detail from the bicycle shop sample lean plan:
For each item on the list, LivePlan lets you add details including not just date, but who’s responsible, plus notes, as shown in this next illustration: