Showing posts with label management plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label management plans. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Using Action Plans to Increase Performance

Action plans offer the opportunity help people think through the various challenges they face and apply some type of plan on how to overcome these difficulties. Whether discussing students, employees our yourself it is beneficial to consider the benefits of implementing action plans in a way that encourages greater insight by the person writing them. Insight sometimes leads to higher levels of performance.

In my experience in labor relations and as a professor in business I find that performance issues may not be willful but are a result of a lack of experience or understanding. For example, in labor relations I have found attendance to be a major employer concern. Through the standard grievance process employees can promise to make it to work on time but without an action plan the problem isn't likely to be resolved soon.

The same idea applies to students who consistently fail to turn their work by class deadlines. Each assignment they scramble for some excuse that will get them off the hook. The problem is not the creativity of the excuses but their processes. Understanding how chronic poor performance is part of a process of thinking is beneficial for finding solutions.

Before giving grace to poor performance consider requiring an action plan to ensure the person has some understanding on how to improve the situation. Requiring the person to develop a plan on how to change their processes helps them think through what is causing the problem and how it can be improved. They can search through their strengths and weaknesses that help them discover equitable solutions to the problem.

Most of us live our lives by patterns and reflecting on those changes needed to adjust the pattern is beneficial to sustainable performance.  An employee who has an attendance problem could discover the necessity of starting early, putting out their items the night before, and getting plenty of rest. A student who turns their work in chronically late may need to start assignments at the beginning of each week and also devote a full hour to writing each day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Developing the Strategy within a Business Plan

The business plan is the single most important document in the development and promotion of any business. Without a well thought out business plan it is unlikely that a new venture will succeed or be able to navigate the often difficult and complex environment. When starting a business people often focus on their great idea but fail to understand the important components and steps that lead to successful development.

The business plan helps to create the business model. Each business needs some way of competing in the market. The business plan is the most significant planning exercise that can lead to the success or failure of the entity (McKaskill, 2011). Ensuring that it is detailed and critically analyzed will help minimize problems later.

The formation of a business plan should include research into each of the areas. Making “rule of thumb” judgments where more exact data is needed can be a mistake. The quality of the plan is based upon the depth and strength of the analysis in each of the sections. Inappropriate conclusions and lack of insight can have serious financial consequences.

The areas of the business plan often include the following (Finch, 2012):

Executive Summary  
Situation Analysis and Assessment of the Competitive Environment  
Researching Market Opportunities and Market Potential  
Market Segmentation, Product Differentiation, and Positioning  
Statement of Marketing Strategy and Goals  
Product Planning  
Place, Physical Distribution, or Location Strategy  
 Projections of Sales, Costs, and Profits  
 Summary and Conclusion  

The sections are designed to give a broader overview of the competitive environment, the potential for success, marketing strategies, pricing strategies, how products/services are to be distributed and promoted. Understanding each of the components will help the potential business owner think through their model systematically and ensure major concepts are not left out or skimmed over.

One component shouldn’t be given excessive interest over others. According to Cousins (1991), many executives focus heavily on finance and very little on strategic planning. The mistake in this approach is that finance can take a very short-term perspective and become penny-wise and pound foolish. Having a strong strategy that is based in part on finance can lead to greater growth than a purely financial policy with no vision beyond short-term financing. If a business is going to need financing then it better have a sustainable strategy.

Everything within the business plan should connect to everything else. Where there appears to be some aspects that do not fit together additional research is needed to understand these gaps and find solutions. For example, the marketing plan should work with the strategic plan (Bowen, 2002). The entire business plan should work together much like a system in that the components all promote, push, and work with each other to achieve objectives. The system should be open enough to ensure that new information from the environment will afford opportunities to continually adjust that system for accuracy and relevancy.

If a person plans on funding the business plan with their own money they can be as simple or complex as they desire. However, when using other people’s money they will want to be sure they understand the details and the strategic reasoning. Both the loan department of banks as well as venture capitalists will use the plan in making decisions to provide funding or pass up the offer (Varilek, 2013).

The business plan is an integral strategic process that should not be ignored or completed without deep thought. It could take someone years to complete a competitive business plan that works. With the majority of start-ups failing to survive after a few years it is extremely important that the business model provides an opportunity to grow one’s investment as well as the investments of others. Opening a business can be risky and there is no reason to make it riskier by skipping steps.

Bowen, J. (2002). Benefits of a marketing plan. UNLV Gaming Research & Review, 6 (2).
Cousins, L. (1991). Marketing Plans or Marketing Planning? Business Strategy Review, 2 (2).

Finch, J. (2012). Managerial marketing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Varilek, M. (2013). Five factors to consider when borrowing. Wyoming Business Report, 14 (3).