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Strategic Planning During Turbulent Times

Strategic Planning During Turbulent Times

The 2024 planning season is upon us! With the new year just weeks away, I wanted to shed some light on BEMO's planning experiences and insights from our 2024 strategic planning journey. This year's planning phase was especially challenging, requiring us to adapt and learn as we progressed. 

We started our planning cycle using our well-established planning process:

2023

This approach has been effective for BEMO, ensuring that we dedicate the right amount of time to future planning. It has helped our leadership team concentrate on key priorities and resulted in an action plan that effectively advances our strategy.

 

2024 Planning Challenges

However, this year (and the last couple of years) have proved particularly challenging. Here are some of the key factors that made planning difficult:

  • The business environment has been volatile. For instance, in Q3, BEMO experienced both its best and worst months within the same quarter.
  • The ongoing development of new business capabilities that has been vital for future growth. The challenge in planning comes from the lack of extensive historical data for these capabilities.
  • The new products and services BEMO introduces each year. While these launches are thrilling and valuable for our customers, the limited data makes forecasting future performance much harder.

So how do we plan despite these challenges?

 

2024 Planning Adjustments

BEMO made several adjustments along the way to adapt to this volatility:

Prioritize Strategic Drivers

Our strategic drivers are well-established and consistent over the years, with no anticipated changes. However, we prioritize these drivers annually to set a clear focus for each year. For instance, 2022 was designated as the 'BEMO Year of HR,' emphasizing hiring and investing in top talent. In 2023, our theme is 'Operate at Scale.' Looking ahead to 2024, we're focusing on 'Innovate new product and service offerings,' making it the year of the product.

 

Focus Initiatives

BEMO aligns our initiatives to priorities and focuses on a few rather than many. This year we had several initiatives carried over from 2023. We plan to complete these efforts and limit the new initiatives started. We approved only three new initiatives that are focused on the most pressing future capabilities.

 

Timing Our Hiring on Business Needs

In our 2024 Strategic Action Plan, we've included an approved hiring strategy. Unlike previous years, where we followed a rigid quarterly hiring model and calendar, our approach for 2024 is more flexible. We're aligning our hiring timeline with business needs and activity drivers. For instance, we plan to hire a Customer Program Manager once we consistently reach a certain volume of projects per month.

 

Biannual Planning

Due to significant fluctuations, we've shifted to biannual planning for greater adaptability. Our major planning efforts occur before the start of the fiscal year, followed by a midyear review where we adjust and pivot strategies for the second half as necessary.

 

Listening Systems

In times of uncertainty, being prepared to adapt is crucial. While we've adopted biannual planning, we also emphasize the importance of robust monitoring and trend analysis systems. We've established quarterly triggers for evaluating trends to maintain balance, ensuring we don't overreact to short-term fluctuations. This approach, instead of a monthly one, helps us respond more thoughtfully to changes.

 

Planning is so important to focus on priorities for the coming year, aligning goals (company to team to individuals), and investing or building new capabilities for the future. The realistic view, however, is to plan to replan! We will be keeping our ears to the ground to learn quickly and pivot when needed.

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