Quarterly Planning: Guide for Your Next Meeting

Importance of Quarterly Planning

Every successful business has one thing in common – they plan for success.

Quarterly planning is a system that helps you do just that. It’s a systematic way of breaking down your long-term goals into manageable short-term goals and achieving them over three months.

This post will uncover quarterly planning and its importance for your business. We’ll also provide some essential tips to ensure your next quarterly planning meeting is a success!

Let’s get started-

What is a quarter?

First, let’s begin by understanding what a quarter is before we start its planning.

A quarter is a three-month period that serves as the basis for quarterly financial reports and dividend payments on a company’s financial calendar.

A quarter is one-fourth of a year. 

We usually denote it with the letters Q1 for the first quarter, Q2 for the second, and so on.

A quarter is frequently shown alongside its applicable year, such as Q1 2022 or Q122, which denotes the first quarter of the year 2022.

Most businesses divide their year into four quarters:

  • January to March- Q1
  • April to June- Q2
  • July to September- Q3
  • October to December- Q4

That was easy, right? We can begin planning now!

Quarterly Planning

Quarterly planning is a system of organizing your thoughts and goals into actionable steps that you can take over the next three months.

Teams who have work that contributes to the intended result and their stakeholders gather to discuss their plans for the next three months during quarterly planning.

The idea of quarterly planning is neither new nor unchanging, although it’s a crucial element of any operating process.

It’s still an excellent instrument for assisting you to stay on track while also shaping the conversation around what the product contributes to the company and its customers.

It’s important to note that quarterly planning should not be confused with annual planning – which is more long-term. Quarterly planning helps break down your yearly goals into manageable chunks, making them easier to achieve.

Quarterly planning isn’t complex, but it does need a lot of planning and prioritization. Fortunately, we will build a simple guide ahead that can get us started.

Quarterly Planning Importance

It is more effective to follow a 90-day plan than to maintain people on track and motivated for a year, as their quarterly objectives are more doable.

A quarterly plan allows a team to make short-term objectives that may help the organization achieve its long-term goals while also providing stakeholders with a sense of the ongoing accomplishment.

Team members may be less likely to procrastinate and more prone to complete the work if you set and achieve goals in a shorter period.

There are several reasons why quarterly planning is vital for businesses. Here are a few key points:

  • It instills a sense of urgency for projects to be done since deadlines are not as far ahead.
  • It allows for more concentrated attention on details during each 90-day plan.
  • At the end of each quarter, the board might compare company development and change rates to ensure accuracy and make adjustments where necessary.
  • It helps to increase focus and clarity on what needs to be done in the next three months.
  • It allows you to track progress and adapt your plans accordingly.
  • It ensures that everyone on the team is aware of the company’s goals and their role in achieving them.
  • Quarterly planning helps to keep your business organized and efficient.

Now that we know more about quarterly planning’s importance, let’s look at the quarterly planning process. Shall we?

Quarterly Planning Process

The quarterly planning process is simple, but it does require some preparation. Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

  • Define the company’s annual goals and objectives.

A defined goal is required for an effective quarterly plan process. You can prepare ahead of time once you know the primary reasons for creating the quarterly plan. Without this, you’ll have trouble setting measurable objectives.

  • Determine which team members will be involved in the quarterly planning process and their respective roles.

Not everyone needs to be a part of your quarterly planning process, but make sure those who clearly understand what you expect from them. Determining early on who will be responsible for each task will help keep things running smoothly during the meeting.

  • Create a timeline for each goal – including specific tasks you need to complete and when.

This step cannot happen without first having identified company goals and objectives; it helps to flesh out the details of each objective so there’s less ambiguity as to how they should achieve them. You can use various tools that help you visualize your tasks and deadlines.

  • Assign each task to a team member and establish deadlines.

Again, this comes back to clearly understanding who is responsible for each task. Assigning tasks and deadlines ahead of time will help keep your quarterly planning process on track and avoid confusion later on.

  • Hold a quarterly planning meeting.

This is where the magic happens! Make sure to have all of your materials ready and allow plenty of time for discussion. The goal is to come out of this meeting with measurable objectives to help you achieve your company’s annual goals.

  • Review progress at the end of each quarter and make necessary adjustments.

The beauty of having a quarterly plan is that it can be adapted as needed – depending on how much progress you have made on specific tasks or unforeseen circumstances. This final step ensures that your quarterly plan remains effective throughout the year.

Now that we have gone over the quarterly planning process, let us look at some guidelines to ensure your next quarterly planning meeting is successful.

How to write quarterly plans that work?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when writing quarterly plans that work. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your goals are attainable and measurable.

Don’t set your team up for failure by setting unrealistic goals – they will only become demotivated if they constantly fall short. Instead, make sure each goal is achievable and has specific steps that you can take to achieve it. This way, you can track progress and ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Include all members of the team in the quarterly planning process.

This ensures that everyone knows what you expect from them and allows for input and feedback from different perspectives. The more ideas you have, the better.

  • Focus on specific areas for each quarter

Focus on one or multiple focus areas that address your business needs for that quarter. It is essential to use a prioritization framework and define what tasks or features you will focus on this quarter. Adding everything to the mix just gives a big bowl of chili!

Essential quarterly planning items to add

When it comes to planning, most businesses think about creating a strategy to guide the company during the upcoming year. But once that’s complete, what do you do next?

While many companies will create a quarterly plan, they don’t always know exactly how to fill out that quarterly planning document. So what goes in a quarterly business plan?

Here is a curated list of the six most essential quarterly planning items you need to add to your checklist before your next quarterly planning meeting-

  1. 1. A detailed review of the last quarter
  2. 2. Focus areas for the next quarter
  3. 3. A SWOT analysis of the planned goals
  4. 4. Team plans constituting the overall company goals
  5. 5. Optional challenging goals to check your team’s potential
  6. 6. Customer feedback for your product or service over the last quarter.

Now that you know what quarterly planning is, what the quarterly planning process looks like, and everything you should include in your plan- how do you communicate it?

Remember we said there’s a place where all the magic happens? Yes, the quarterly planning meeting. Let’s break down how you can manage your quarterly planning meetings effectively.

How to manage quarterly planning meetings?

To ensure that you are on track with your quarterly goals, it is vital to have a meeting every quarter. But just having a quarterly planning meeting doesn’t mean you’ve achieved your target. How you conduct this meeting plays a crucial role in how your team performs for the rest of the quarter. 

Here are some essentials you should look out for to efficiently manage your quarterly planning meetings-

The meeting schedule

The meeting should be scheduled at least one month before the end of the quarter so that all participants can prepare for it. It is also important to invite relevant stakeholders such as the marketing, and IT teams is also important.

The quarterly planning meeting agenda

Your quarterly planning meeting agenda should include a review of the company’s current goals and objectives, an update on what you have achieved so far, what you need to do in the next few weeks, and any other items to discuss.

We will discuss this in more detail further.

Roles and Responsibilities

For these meetings to be successful, everyone must understand their role in achieving their quarterly goals. This includes understanding their responsibilities and how they will contribute towards achieving these goals.

You must sit with the heads of each team and pan out every team or member’s role towards a specific goal. This role could be either a task to achieve, discover a new product, or even the prioritization of an existing feature.

Ask questions

There are many ways to manage quarterly planning meetings.

One way to do so is by creating a list of questions that you will answer during the meeting.

These questions could include:

  1. What were our goals at this time last year?
  2. What were we able to accomplish?
  3. What did we not accomplish?
  4. What have we learned from our past mistakes?

Listen to your team

Although you are the head at the table, driving the quarterly meeting, make sure everyone gets a piece of the pie.

Keep one segment of your meeting for QnA, employee feedback and opinions, or brainstorming. This way, you’re making sure all your members and stakeholders feel heard.

This is one of the top 5 qualities people look for in a product manager.

Quarterly Planning Meeting Agenda

The quarterly planning meeting is the most critical meeting for product managers. It is where they get to present their plan for the next three months.

They also get updated on progress and share any issues they face with their team.

A meeting agenda is a document outlining the topics you will discuss during a meeting.

The following are the most common items on a standard agenda:

  • A list of attendees.
  • The date, time, and location of the meeting.
  • The purpose of the meeting and how long it will last.
  • A list of the topics to be discussed.
  • A list of any handouts or material to be distributed at the meeting.

But you already know this. And it’s not a loss if some of these things are prepared at the last minute.

The most important part of your agenda is the contents of the discussion.

The product managers must come prepared for this meeting and have a clear agenda.

Your company-specific agenda should include all of the following:

  • An overview of what has been going on in the past quarter
  • A list of goals, objectives, and deliverables
  • A list of risks and uncertainties
  • A list of dependencies
  • The current status of each goal, objective, deliverable, risk, uncertainty, and dependency.

Once you are clear with your plan, you may best believe that your next quarter will be exponentially better than the previous quarter. 

How do I make sure my team members are working on their quarterly goals?

Keeping track of all goals and tasks and acknowledging when your team meets each milestone can help boost morale and keep team members engaged.

To keep goals visible, write them on a board that is visible to the entire team or monitor them in a shared document or strategic planning software like Chisel that is easily accessible online.

Quarterly planning can make or break your ability to meet your annual company objectives.

With these FAQs and tips about quarterly planning, we should now convince you that quarterly planning helps you achieve your long-term and short-term goals more effectively.

If quarterly planning sounds like it will be advantageous to your company’s strategy, save this guide so you can come back to it for tips!

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