We speak daily with IT business owners who tell us that one of their biggest frustrations is the inability to accomplish business goals on time and in budget.
Well, actually - what we hear more specifically is "I wanted this done like, yesterday".
"Every time we take two steps forward on this initiative, we realize we've missed something and have to take three steps back".
"We don't know what we don't know, and it's creating a bottleneck".
Have you ever caught yourself repeating any of these phrases?
If you have been feeling that your vision is not coming to fruition as quickly as you had hoped or planned for, you are not alone.
We surveyed over 1,000 IT business owners who use ConnectWise, and found 82% felt they were unable to accomplish goals as quickly as expected.
For most companies with complex goals, success lies in the ability to appropriately determine a realistic timeline, as well as assign the right team member the right tasks.
We believe that strategic planning is not only helpful in achieving goals on time, but also essential for success.
However, many IT businesses believe that strategic planning is simply planning, documenting a vision and sharing this vision across the company. The truth is, strategic planning is much more comprehensive.
All Strategic Plans are not created equally
According to EOS Worldwide, every business should have both a visionary and an implementer.
Typically, the visionary will be either the CEO or business owner. His/her focus will be on setting goals and determining the vision for the organization. One of the biggest reasons why some of these visions don't come to life is because there is no implementer in the business, usually a COO or Director of Managed Services.
We find most IT business owners approach goal setting in one of three ways:
1. Verbally express their vision to one or many members of the organization, along with a date they hope the main objective will be realized. There is no documentation of goals, no recording of small milestones, and no delegation to the appropriate team members.
2. Document vision and completion date and share with one or many members of the organization, allowing the team to assign themselves to the most appropriate tasks.
3. Document vision, goals, and milestones - as well as assign the most appropriate team members to the right tasks. No follow up is done, no check-ins are made, and no accountability is set.
Even if the vision is well documented with milestones and expected completion dates, if no one is held accountable for hitting those milestones on time and in budget - odds are they will likely be missed.
To develop a strategic plan, what will actually help your team accomplish goals on time and on budget, the following must exist:
1. A visionary and an implementor (the visionary should be the owner, CEO, or founder of the business, and the implementor can be the COO, partner, or outsourced resource).
2. A detailed, defined, and documented plan to take the company from where it is today to where you would like it to be. This includes rocks, tasks, and milestones assigned to the right team members in your organization.
3. A realistic timeline for completion. Typically, large projects are divided into phases, and timelines are measured in quarters.
4. The necessary resources must be identified and acquired. This can be anything from additional staff, outsourced assistance, platforms, or tools.
5. A KPI scorecard to appropriately measure accountability per team member or department, and quickly identify when and where your plan may be falling behind schedule.
Once the proper strategic plan has been developed, the following advantages will be available to you and your team, and may well put you ahead of your competitors.
Advantage #1 - The ability to predict costs
The truth is, executing without direction is extremely costly. It's also probably the way your team has been operating for some time.
When a strategic plan has been designed appropriately, your team can focus simply on execution.
Advantage #2 - The ability to get things done right, the first time
There is nothing more disappointing than time wasted. For a business owner or CEO, valuable time wasted is a living nightmare.
A strategic plan can help your team remain productive and efficient, simply because once a plan is developed, they only need to follow precise instructions.
There is no second guessing, no brainstorming, no researching - just execution.
As long as the strategic plan was developed with the help of an expert, your team can rely on the next steps to help row in the same direction and guide the company to the success you envisioned.
This seems like an obvious approach, but we understand most IT businesses are doing something we like to call "spinning their wheels". What we mean by this is, we observe team members going through a set of motions and day-to-day tasks without ever understanding what goal they are working toward, thus never able to make any progress toward it.
An example of this would be to respond to as many tickets as possible in a working day. A business owner or CEO may have a vision or goal to improve profitability per client, and notices his technicians are spending too much time on helpdesk tickets.
If the business owner or CEO expresses to their team that they would like to increase productivity, each team member may approach this goal differently. Some may even continue to take the same approach because they aren't sure what is needed to get there.
In reality, the plan here would be to implement some automated workflows to provide as much proactive assistance as possible, reducing the number of tickets that come in.
If you have ever heard of the age-old adage "It's better to get 1% better daily than 100% better in one day" - it's accurate. But it's almost impossible to get 1% better at something you are unaware of!
Advantage #3 - The Ability To Keep Team Members Accountable
Keeping your team accountable can be extremely challenging. There is so much data collected, sometimes it's hard to know what numbers to focus on.
If I'm honest, it may even take you months to determine what KPIs are right for your team. But, when you have a defined and documented plan with milestones and assigned resources, the tasks were either completed on time, or not.
It can be as simple as that!
When you can hyper-focus on helping team members get back on track with small tasks, you can accomplish the paramount goal you are aiming for.
Where there are no milestones and no assigned resources, there is no accountability. And without accountability, the whole plan either succeeds or fails; there's no in-between.
If you are a ConnectWise user, your team can take advantage of the project board. If you are looking for a way to track KPIs and more defined milestones, check out Ninety.
If you are hoping to achieve a specific goal in year, this quarter, or this century, we can help you get started by developing a strategic plan for your IT business.