Monthly Archives: August, 2018

The Difference Between Goals, Strategic Objectives, and Tactical Objectives

August 28th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Goal, Uncategorized 1 thought on “The Difference Between Goals, Strategic Objectives, and Tactical Objectives”

There’s rarely ONE correct answer. Ask 10 different experts and you will get 10 different answers. That seems to be true of many things – and so it goes with terms like goals, objectives, strategic objectives, and tactical objectives.

Here is our take on these particular terms.

Goals are big, lofty things

Goals are big, lofty things that look out into the future, in support of the overall vision. If they lean 1 way or the other, it would be slightly more toward the idealistic rather than the realistic (although there should be a healthy dose of each in every defined goal).

Goals are more of a destination and are, therefore, largely immeasurable in-and-of themselves beyond answering the question, “Are we there yet?”

There are 4 major categories of goals. Pretty much anything you can imagine as a goal for your business will fit neatly into at least one of them. They are:

  1. Goals relative to social responsibility
  2. Goals relative to employee engagement
  3. Goals relative to customer/client engagement
  4. Goals relative to profitability

Goals are a foundational component of a long-term strategic plan. They are defined right after you define your vision, mission, and purpose.

Objectives help you measure progress

If goals are largely immeasurable beyond the destination, how do you know what progress you are making toward them? Objectives. They represent specific outcomes you need to achieve in order to move closer to your goals. One objective can support multiple goals.

Objectives have 5 primary characteristics that are easily remembered using the SMART acronym. A well-defined objective is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Start defining and tracking YOUR goals, strategic objectives, and tactical objectives today with Plan Canvas.

Select “Plan Canvas for SMB”

Strategic versus tactical objectives

Generally speaking, if it is in direct support of how you are measuring business outcomes within a single fiscal year, it is a tactical objective that should be included in your business plan. If it is in direct support of a strategic goal or has a due-date that is beyond the 12-month financial cycle, it is a strategic objective and should be included in your strategic plan.

Some objectives are clearly strategic, some are clearly tactical, but often, it is a judgment call when deciding to label an objective as a long-term strategic objective, or a shorter-term tactical (business plan) objective.

Objectives, whether strategic or tactical, fall into one of 6 categories:

  1. Social responsibility
  2. Employee
  3. Customer/client
  4. Operations
  5. Sales/Marketing
  6. Financial

If you do nothing else, do this

There is so much more to strategic business planning and management, but, if you do nothing else, define your vision, mission, purpose, goals, strategic objectives and tactical objectives – whether just starting a business or running one that has been around for a long time. You will be miles ahead of the competition if you do.

The good news is you can do this and more with Plan Canvas – simply and effectively. Contact us for a demo or assistance.

You Need Project Portfolio Management – Just Not So Complicted

August 22nd, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Project Portfolio Management 0 thoughts on “You Need Project Portfolio Management – Just Not So Complicted”

An article at the Project Management Institute (PMI) entitled Project Portfolio Management Techniques starts out with a statement we often use at Plan Canvas as well:

“According to Gartner research, out of $1 to $2 trillion invested in IT deployments in North America annually 30% or $300 to $600 billion is wasted.”

That’s just in IT projects/deployments/strategic initiatives. The rate of failure is estimated to be about the same for all types of strategic initiatives, whether they involve IT or not.

It may be too much

The article goes on to define several key terms and components of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) as well as several diagrams to illustrate what PPM from an in-depth perspective looks like.

It’s all great stuff…if you are a larger company or are an expert in project, program, and portfolio management. If not, it can be a bit over-whelming, and a lot of it is overkill, especially for smaller businesses.

In other words, just like strategic business planning and execution methods and tools are usually too complex for small business, so is PPM. The end result? It too is ignored.

But it doesn’t have to be

There is still a need, even for a 1-person business or freelancer, to use good PPM methods – they just have to be stripped down and simplified so that they are affordable and realistic but still effective.

PPM Made Easy

Use a simplified approach to PPM

There are 2 types of project portfolios

There are both internal and external projects to include in your portfolio. Internal projects are “strategic initiatives.” These are things you need to do to better enable your business or meet certain long-term strategic goals. They are resource intensive, costing you time, money, or both. A simple example is the development of a website for your business.

External projects are things you deliver to your customer. They generate revenue. Examples include order fulfillment, a construction project, or perhaps you are building a new app for your client.

But they each have common traits

There are a handful of things you should keep in mind when defining a project and managing your portfolio, without complexity. Here is a simple list of things to do:

  1. Give the project a unique name.
  2. Identify the primary purpose of the project
  3. If it is an internal project, tie it directly to a defined strategic objective – if you can’t, don’t start the project.
  4. Prioritize the project as compared to others.
  5. Define the project target start and end dates.
  6. Identify who is going to “own” the project
  7. Identify any major milestones associated with the project
  8. Track progress – not started, started, complete.
  9. Track project health – Green = good, Yellow = caution, Red = bad.
  10. Be flexible with your portfolio:
    • Reprioritize as needed.
    • Don’t take on everything at once.
    • Delegate
    • Stay on top of it with regular reviews.

There is, of course, a lot more you can do in terms of project planning and PPM. The bigger the company, the bigger the project, the bigger the portfolio, the more you need much more involved PPM practices. But for small businesses, this list is generally all you need to start getting much better results.

Keep it simple

Don’t get too complex, and don’t throw out the notion of PPM simply because everything you’ve seen so far is just that – too complex.

Plan Canvas offers very simple PPM features for identifying, prioritizing, assigning and tracking your portfolio of projects – both internal and external.

Get started today or contact us for a demo.

There May Never be a Perfect Time to Take Time Off – So Just Do It

August 15th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “There May Never be a Perfect Time to Take Time Off – So Just Do It”

Even though we were in the heat of redesigning the Plan Canvas software, as well as working on our go-to-market strategy, every member of the small-but-mighty Plan Canvas team took time off over the last 4 weeks. Why would we do such a crazy thing just when things were so hectic?

Because things have been so hectic

The human body and brain are not infallible, perfect machines. They wear down and break down. They need to be refueled. From time-to-time, they need to be shut down for maintenance.

Even if what you do is something you just can’t wait to get up and do all over again tomorrow, you still need to take a break from time-to-time. Imagine you are at an amusement park with one particular roller coaster you simply love. As soon as one ride is over, you race right back into line to do it again.

How many times will you do that before you say, “That’s enough… for now.”

We need variety and we need a break

Every day you should seek a “time out” – to have a chance for your brain to shut down a little. Exercise. Take a nap. Read a book. Play with the dog. Sit on the back porch with your beverage of choice. Something, anything, that is not work. The work isn’t going anywhere. It will be there when you get back.

The same is true of vacation, whether it’s stay-at-home or you actually go somewhere – make it a vacation. Turn off the computer. Put the phone on silent, put it down, or put it away. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. Walk somewhere you’ve never walked before.

Shutting down is valuable

If it’s been awhile since you’ve done that, you have a perfect excuse coming up. Labor Day is just around the corner. Monday, September 3. Most of you will have that day off. If so, do something valuable with the long weekend.

Like shut down and relax a little.

Plan for Success – Focus on Execution

August 1st, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “Plan for Success – Focus on Execution”

Success doesn’t just happen. You have to make it. But first, you have to define what it is.

A note from Jon Umstead:

Plan Canvas is great for startups but it was built with the operations/organization leader in mind – that was the perspective I was coming from when Business is ART was written, and the book subsequently became the impetus for the Plan Canvas software.

Prior to writing the book, my career revolved largely around project planning and management, business planning and management, strategic planning and management, and operational/organizational leadership. In almost every role, it was about planning for success and focusing on execution.

Not one or the other – both!

Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.

I learned very quickly what Dwight D. Eisenhower meant when he said, “Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.”

You can’t just get out there and start executing without a plan if you want to have any measure of success. There are exceptions. You might get lucky. Odds are you won’t.

You can’t devise a plan, set it aside, and start executing like the planning process never happened. That is only slightly better than not planning at all. It’s like buying 10 lottery tickets instead of 1. You increased your odds a little bit, but they are still really bad.

Likewise, you can’t execute to the plan so rigidly that you ignore reality. That is a recipe for disaster – perhaps worse than having no plan at all. Change happens constantly. You and your plans have to change right along with it.

Begin with the end in mind

Planning isn’t just a means to get a loan or attract investors. It’s a method of defining what success means to you and your new business. Beginning with the end in mind. From there, you walk backwards to develop a plan that will get you to your destination.

The plan itself is a best-case scenario given your present understanding of the circumstances and assessment of the risks involved.

“If all goes according to plan, victory is ours!”

But you know without a doubt you missed something, underestimated something, or that you will get blindsided by something that is outside of your control. It’s going to happen. Things won’t go according to plan.

But because you had a plan in the first place, you are aware of alternate routes. You can respond without panicking.

Act tactically – think strategically – get going

And, most importantly, you can act tactically while thinking strategically. You deal in the heat of the moment while keeping your eye on the prize – your definition of success.

Plan Canvas has an all new user interface and a completely redesigned dashboard to show you where you are in the planning process AND how you are executing.

For information and to get started, click on the statement that defines you best:

I am an operations / organization leader.

I am a small business owner.

I am a startup entrepreneur.

I am a freelancer.

I am a church or non-profit.

 

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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