5 tips to make a better annual plan

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5 tips to make a better annual plan

When coming back from your summer vacation, the next big task that is often waiting for you is drafting up the annual plan for the coming year.

Drafting new plans already? The plans for this year haven’t even been executed yet and the expectation is that they won’t before the end of this year. So, even more plans and projects will be added then and the pile will just keep getting bigger.

How do you prevent your projects and plans to keep just piling up endlessly instead of being able to finish them timely?

In this blog I’ll explain in a few steps a planning process to you, that could provide focus and efficiency for the coming year.

Tip 1: Take a helicopter view – Long term goals

Begin high and descend afterwards. First, take the mission and vision from your organisation and ask yourself: what are the long term goals?

If you’re working in a health institution, then you might already have a strategic paper for the coming year wherein the most important directions are expounded by the management.

Afterwards, determine with this information what the long term goals are of your department. Where do you want to be in 4-5 years? Make it tangible and measurable.

Example: 10% higher client satisfaction compared to 2016

Is this formulated in a SMART way? Yes, because it’s specific, measurable, challenging but still achievable, it’s relevant as long as you have customers and it’s time-bound (before 2020).

Keep this list short. I advise a maximum of 6 goals – that’s 2 per theme: customers, employees, organisation/finances.

Tip 2: Take a baby step – Short term goals

What do you want to achieve in the coming year? You can approach it in several different ways and they’re all equally correct:

  • Linearly: divide 10% by 4 years, so 2,5% per year
  • Exponentially: increasing satisfaction will become easier
  • Logarithmically: decreasing growth -it will become more difficult to improve

whatever you choose, it will be your plan for the coming year.

Example: 2,5% higher client satisfaction in 2017 as compared to 2016

Tip 3: Be honest – your challenge

List all your obstacles, difficulties and challenges that are momentarily standing in your way to achieving 2,5% growth for the coming year.

Out of my experience I often hear challenges like:

“Our last measurement was in 2014. I don’t know where we’re standing at this moment”

“We lack a measurement tool of our own for continuous measurements.”

“Our measurements don’t show us clearly where we can improve ourselves”

Tip 4: Determine your SMART projects/actions

They are more likely to be projects than actions, as you  can’t usually settle matters on your own with simple actions.

So, make a list here with the strategically important projects to deal with the challenges mentioned earlier. Make them specific, with a measurable objective and a clear deadline.

Staying with our example to increase client satisfaction and considering the listed challenges at the previous point, you can imagine the following Lean Six Sigma projects:

  • Researching an available and/or setting up an own measuring instrument for client satisfaction before March 31st.
  • Measuring and improving client satisfaction on pilot location X before June 30th.
  • Introducing our own measuring instrument for client satisfaction, including working method, for all teams before December 31st.

Tip 5: Focus, focus, focus

You now know what your plans are for the coming year. Note the deadlines in your agenda in advance. In addition, plan the monthly evaluations as well: What’s the status of the project, who is doing what, is there extra support needed, are there urgent, but not important matters that are taking up time from these strategic (important but not urgent) projects?

When following these steps you will have the strategically important projects  in your annual plan. With these you take on the challenges so that you can meet the objectives for the next year, on the way to the long term breakthrough goals!

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