Planning & Forecasting

Looking into 2017, the year promises to be a challenging one for the East African musketeers – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. One sobering from post-election, another entering an election period where numerous businesses are moving to consolidate and review market position and the other one scampering to reignite private sector and investment.

During this time, businesses need to build resilience. It is an art to withstand market shocks and unpredictable scenarios – and consolidate market position – by approaching challenges as opportunities – be it, pricing strategies, supply chain or a vertical alignment.

Organizations need to realize that what has worked in the past may not necessarily work for them during this year or in the near future. Businesses are not built on the mantra of “let’s keep doing what has worked” but rather on “how can we do better than the best.”

As one visionary once remarked, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Growth and success mean different things to different businesses. Your plans could be as grand as multi-million-dollar turnover in the next three years, or looking to expand across different market segments.

Most business goals are backed by incomplete or intrinsic cues, rather than linking to company strategy – inclusive of vision, governance and financial forecasts.

Having many goals without linking them to strategy and taking into account company performance, will result in a cocktail approach. It is important that you choose the right goals for your business, built on solid research with a clear plan of the tactics you will use to achieve them.

As the Guru of Management (Peter Drucker) remarks, “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

Here’s my checklist for FY 2017:

  1. Product Portfolio

Self-help expert Kiyosaki states, “Most businesses think that product is the most important thing, but without great leadership, mission and a team that deliver results at a high level, even the best product won't make a company successful.” Several times when advising clients, less emphasis is given on product strategy – optimizing this to market needs, listening to customers for viewpoints and improvements and evaluating product performance in comparison to competitors. You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You've got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don't feel it, nothing will happen.

  1. Talent

Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. In today’s integrated workplace, no leader can afford to neglect the challenge of engaging employees in creating the future.

Engagement was obscure in the past, but it's pretty much the whole game today. For any business, regardless of its size or industry, it should focus into building a resilient organizational structure that recognizes and rewards performance, identifies talent – short and medium term, involves in decision making and pinpoints potential high performers who can build winning teams to strengthen organizational performance.

More often than not, a business favors a reactive approach to attract and hire talent – for long that has been modus operandi. Today, I work with businesses to build a robust future talent pipeline (6-9 months) by projecting business growth and its manpower needs in the short-medium term. As Warren Buffet states, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

  1. Robust Processes

When was the last time you considered accountability, reporting and governance as key drivers to organizational permanence? Having processes is half-way to the summit, but developing tangible metrics is the course to victory. Today’s organizations are faced with changing market dynamics where quick decision making and innovation are a prerequisite.

Processes not only ensure accountability but also drive efficiencies – you may find where you bleed most or rather are not spending where you should be. Resource allocation, response time to customer queries, supply chain enhancement and employee engagement are some of the important cues for a business to focus on.

And, if your goals are not backed by clear and measureable metrics to track performance, decision making and governance, it won’t be long before you end up on the drawing board reviewing your ambitions!

How about a Reality Check?

What do you wish you had achieved in 2016? What do you want to do more this year?

Reflect on realistic goals i.e. You want them to be attainable, but you have to work just a little to get there with available resources.

Create a 365-Day Action Plan that details the steps you and your team need to take to achieve a goal. E.g. To increase Sales by 18%, the business needs to hire two sales executives, open one new location and increase prices by 2%.

Arrange for a monthly or quarterly meeting to see how your plan is unfolding. If there are obstacles from completing the item, work to mitigate it.