Planning for Change in Business Plans

Business plans are not etched in stone; yet that is exactly how some businesses treat them. The business plans are written and then put into a proverbial drawer where they never see the light of day. One day the plan is dusted off, updated for the Board of Directors, and then put back into the drawer. This does not make sense after so much time and effort has been put into developing a plan that is supposed to establish a clear path to success.

Viable businesses never stand still. They are movers and shakers as they interact with customers, develop new products and services, and adapt to good and poor economies. When major changes happen that affect your business, it is like a time warp because everything changes from that point forward. Change is always imminent today and largely because of technology. Businesses can enter the marketplace faster and roll out a marketing program quickly on the internet.

The business plan can quickly become an anachronism if it does not plan for change. This doesn’t mean doing multiple business plans addressing all the what-if scenarios. However, change should be built in to the business plan process. First you develop a business plan based on the most sensible goals using current knowledge and expectations for the future. You can include a decision tree analysis section, if desired. However, you plan to change by simply doing an honest and regular review of the developed business plan.

It is important to have the same groups involved in the original plan development also participate in review sessions. The business plan may need to be revised, but you have identified where and how which is good strategic management.

The real issue is whether management can develop the discipline needed to make sure the business plan is regularly reviewed. Developing business plans should not merely be an academic exercise. It needs to be an important management function.

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