Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Plan for the Short-Term to Stay on Top of Changing Market Conditions

For those of us operating our organizations on the calendar year – it’s once again time to prepare and plan for the year ahead. Given the current economic climate and that which we have all endured this past year, this could be one of the most difficult planning seasons we have faced yet.

Many questions still exist that present challenges with projecting revenue, ability to hire staff and making final decisions on product or service offering changes for the coming year. Since many of us have already made cuts, sacrifices and worked to squeeze every dime out of our budget it seems there may be little room left to work.

Though it’s important to have a long-range outlook, immediate challenges may make it difficult to begin planning for the full calendar year. The shift and uncertainty in market conditions have made short-term planning a more necessary route. Using a planning approach in one-, three- and six-month cycles allows the opportunity to set goals that can be measured and tested much more quickly.

As with the beginning of any long-term plan, it’s important to evaluate your organization’s current situation in a similar fashion with each short-term plan. In doing so, you can determine how to alter, modify, or shift existing products or services to make your organization more attractive to potential customers or clients in the near future. Having this flexibility can result in the ability to adjust to market trends to help keep your organization viable.

Short-term planning questions to consider include:
•Is there a part of your organization that can become a niche product or service?
•What 'need' has been created by the poor economy that is not currently being fulfilled?
•Can you create a need?

The key is to take action to adjust to market changes in order to avoid putting your organization at risk. A new, measurable approach does not have to be costly, but failing to recognize the need for change could be. With a bit of practice, identifying the drivers of what makes your organization tick on a regular basis can be very valuable. Short-term planning exercises can assist us to become more resourceful, practical and provide focus on our organization’s core strengths.

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