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When you move from yearly to quarterly planning cycles you need to change the way you outline your execution plans. Your new reality has more similarities with how leaders plan their entry into a new role. A challenge where a 30/60/90-day plan are common. Or why not stealing from how scrum teams develop software in short sprints. You most likely have a format you have used in the past. Here we will address how you can improve the way you structure a quarterly plan.
Sources of inspiration
New leaders used to prepare a 30/60/90-day plan to guide their first quarter in a new role. Now they often need to present such a plan during the interview process to get the job. Most have heard the term 30/60/90-day plan and it can for plans with a variety of purposes. The thinking behind these plans aim to give you a great start but realizing it is just the end of the beginning.
Scrum leaders face a challenge that is more similar. Division of work into 2-4 week sprints is a central part of the Scrum methodology. Part of the scope of a sprint is likely to move over to a later sprint. The priorities in each sprint are firm. A new sprint starts immrdiately after the completion of the current one. This flow of interconnected sprints is a good mental model to aim for.
Fast ramp-up and ramp-down
To run a flow of interconnected quarters yours planning need to focus on fast ramp-up and down when shifting quarter. Some priorities will run over several quarters. Other represents a targeted effort during one quarter.
Americans can mirror the scenario before and after a week of vacation. Your work up until 3pm on Friday afternoon before you rewind in the afternoon to get into vacation mode. You relax for a week and when you get back, you are up and running at full speed the Monday after your vacation.
The yearly planning cycles have more similarities with European vacations. The tempo is declining the last 2 weeks before the vacation. You enjoy 3-5 weeks of vacation in a row. After your vacation a 2 week gradual ramp-up is likely. In an operational environment with short sprints and quarterly goals cope the American model. Each week represent 8% of the available execution lead-time in a given quarter.
Best layout of a quarterly plan
Sales leaders have realized balance between proactive and reactive efforts varies over the quarter. When driven by quarterly reporting, you have an increase of event triggered activities to close the quarter as planned. These last 30 days of a quarter thus have less time available for execution of proactive efforts. A great quarterly plan has strong emphasis on activities the first 60 days. The third month will be more focused on recoveries, closing on a high note and planning next quarter. Enough planning need to go in to setting goals to secure execution can start day 1 of the next quarter.
Prioritize goals based on execution readiness
When operating in an agile environment there will always be a fight for attention to get prioritized. The only activities that should get priority are the ones where both goals are in place where an execution plan exists in draft form. When you limit your priorities to a hand full and run in short sprints you cannot afford to sign off vague initiatives.
Good questions to ask for you your team
- What are the formats for a quarterly plan we plan to use – a proven format is good, a format proven in your organization is great.
- When do we need to have a draft plan ready – to secure the goals have a chance to get selected.
- What do we need to do to secure we ramp up and down fast – required resources, important inputs.
- Is the draft plan front loaded enough – to secure the proactive work down drown in reactive sales efforts at the back of the quarter
- Is the plan good enough to secure we can deliver on the goal – if not good enough, your be better off postponing the goal for the next quarter.
- The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded [BOOK] – by Michael D. Watkins
- Creating a 30-60-90 Day Plan to Secure the Job [BLOGPOST] – Right Management
- 90 day leadership plan [PRESENTATION] – By Michael Weening
- Commitment-Driven Sprint Planning [BLOGPOST] – by Mountaingoat
- How to run an agile marketing sprint planning session [BLOGPOST] – by Agile Marketing
- Agile project planning tips [BLOGPOST] – by Ambysoft
- 21 tips on choosing a sprint length [BLOGPOST] – by Agile advice