Business planning is all about establishing a path to take your business from it's current state to somewhere better in the future. To do this you need to develop an understanding of your operational environment and identify the areas on which you can focus to provide the most return for your effort. The following details outline a range of software tools that will assist in this process, providing a development guide and enhancing the value of your business plan. It provides a selection of software titles that you can utilize to highlight opportunities and actions for your business and samples to help you put it all together. All software is available free for evaluation from the navigation links on the left.
For a plan to be useful it must identify the current situation, future opportunities, and actions to develop them. This process can be enhanced with the structured application of quantitative software models allowing:
- Application of intuitive knowledge held by the business, ensuring outcomes are directly applicable.
- Streamlined interactive input for ease of use, time efficiency, and insight.
- Application of management theory to identify critical points.
- Concise findings in graphical and point format.
- Management science techniques to determine the "best" actions.
- Quantifiable actions to improve performance, enabling outcomes to be measured.
The planning process should consist of three progressive stages. Stage one provides the basis of a business plan to highlight Potential & Opportunities.
Potential & Opportunities (P&O) - Stage 1
Software used in this stage includes:
- Business Valuation Model,
- Forecast and Budget Builder,
- Pricing and Breakeven Analysis,
- Profit Contribution Model.
Input for these software titles are based on intuitive business knowledge (gut feel?) and basic financial data. Relative indicators and ratings allow intuitive knowledge to be quantified and applied as software inputs. The interactive nature of the software "tests" inputs for inconsistencies. Outputs represent the business, its services/products and the environment in which it operates.
A sample Potential & Opportunities Report is provided to give you an idea of how it all fits together. To start identifying your own Potential and Opportunities download the required software and simply input your data. You can view a Sample Input Sheet to see the level of detail required
Once you have applied your data review the software outputs to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). From this you can begin to consider actions required.
If you are a consultant working with a client you can use an input sheet to secure the required details from your client and then transfer these to the applicable software. The Sample Input Sheet outlines the scope and range of data required. When working with a client input generally requires one to two hours with no pre-work.
Decisions & Actions (D&A) - Stage 2
Software used in this stage includes:
This stage guides the selection of actions to develop identified opportunities. Intuitive knowledge is applied to test action outcomes using the Decision Assistant model. The Decision Assistant model determines the likelihood of outcomes and their dollar impact. This assists the selection of the "best" actions. The software produces quantified monthly outcomes for each action which can be compiled into Action Sheets and the impact on business performance graphically illustrated. Action Sheets are used to guide action implementation and review outcomes.
Review & Refine (R&R) - Stage 3
This stage is a regular (monthly?) follow-up where you review your outcomes against Action Sheets to monitor progress. These reviews trigger action refinements. As outcomes are achieved new actions can be defined, tested, and implemented for continuous improvement.