Is your annual planning a free-for-all? Let’s fix it.

Annual planning

I’m probably a little bit late on my annual planning post here, because it’s almost Thanksgiving. When you get to that period in between Thanksgiving and Christmas at most offices, there’s a lot of year-end fiscal closeout rush, but usually the annual planning is done by then. Regardless, a lot of people come back from New Year’s and revisit their annual planning approach. If your company is in that boat, consider this post.

I think we all know annual planning is important. You need to set some vision, strategy, and priorities for what you’re going to do moving forward. Unfortunately, I think we also all know that — at many companies, but not all — annual planning is a giant cluster mess. It’s a free-for-all of different priorities, competing silos, metrics re-analyzed by one group vs. the other, and more issues. When we whiff on annual planning, that sets in motion a year where the wrong projects and concepts are prioritized. This can lead to revenue erosion, and then heads begin to roll.

How can we make the annual planning process better? Here are a few approaches.

The most crucial thing about annual planning

It absolutely must begin with the customer asset. It cannot — absolutely cannot — begin with the silos. When you begin with the silos, you completely inhibit customer experience growth and customer-driven revenue growth. Annual planning must — repeat must, must, must — begin by examining customers’ lives and the journey they go through to interact with whatever you provide. You must think of customers as assets, and your entire leadership team needs to embrace this.

What should annual planning of customer-centered goals include?

I’d begin with these three concepts:

  • Customer asset current state analysis: Volume/value of lost customers + volume/value of new customers required to drive incremental growth.
  • ID’ing priority customer experiences: Which are retaining customers, and which ones are driving customers out the door?
  • Engagement levels: What are the goals for customer movement from one level of engagement to the next?

Essentially, you want to begin annual planning with your own version of “the customer room.” The leadership team, ideally united, now needs to understand the growth or loss of the customer asset. Inside this customer room, your leadership team needs to be figuring out and understanding the “why” behind this growth or loss. This is how you root the process of annual planning.

If you have consultants rushing in and each silo breathlessly reporting their own metrics, your annual planning will be a free-for-all. We all have lived this. We all know this.

Annual planning in one sentence

If you take nothing else from this post, take this:

To advance your commitment to customer-driven growth, change your annual planning prioritization from silo-based planning (traditional) to customer journey perspective (the era we now live in).

What else would you add on annual planning?

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