7 Questions about Annual Planning Meetings: Answered

Kris Snyder is the founder of the growth advisory firm Impact Architects and has helped entrepreneurs for more than 25 years. Here, he answers your questions about annual planning meetings.

This is the second blog in a three-part series on annual business planning. Be sure to read “How to Create an Annual Plan in 5 Steps” and subscribe to the blog to get more annual planning advice from Kris Snyder.

1. “Which Comes First: The Annual Plan or the Annual Budget?”

Some companies start the annual planning process and then do the budgeting. Some people come out with the budget first, and then the plan. Those are choices that organizations get to make. 

2. “When Should You Have Your Annual Planning Meeting?”

Most of the companies I help have a calendar-based annual planning timeline, so the annual planning season kicks off sometime in October for most people. Some of my other customers have a non-calendar annual planning timeline — maybe because they follow a fiscal year, or they’re in retail and things don’t really close out for them until Q1. 

Altogether, the annual planning season will run through October, November, December and January. 

3. “How Long is an Annual Planning Meeting?”

At our business-building software company, Ninety, we have three quarterly meetings and one annual planning meeting. Quarterly meetings are one day, and the annual meeting is two days. 

4. “How Do I Run an Annual Planning Meeting?”

Once you’ve planned out your meeting and what needs to be discussed, Ninety’s Meeting tool can help you run through the agenda and the distinct parts of the meeting. You can then go into your Vision planner on Ninety to keep track of your 5- to 10-year target and how you’re progressing. 

Inside the software, you can not only have the leadership team’s Vision, but you can also have a Vision set at the department level. The things that stay consistent across company and department Visions are your core values and the big picture goals. 

All goals should be made S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely). Inside our software, it’s easy to do that. You can add a detailed description to accompany each recorded goal. You can even add links and attachments. So when you’re setting that goal and you’re twelve months out, you’ll have an idea of the things you need to do and the journey you need to take to achieve that goal. 

Whenever we do a quarterly planning meeting, we check in on our goals for the year. Sometimes those are just good reminders of things we still need to do, and it’s also a good way to capture the smaller goals that can help us achieve the larger goals for the year.

5. “How Does a Coach Help with Annual Planning Meetings?”

If you’re working with a coach like me, your coach is committed to helping leadership teams with three quarterlies and an annual meeting, including that first day of team health and strategy. For bigger companies (200+ people), some coaches will also help at a department level, as well. 

6. “Is the Annual Planning Meeting Just for Leadership?”

Departments also have individual annual planning meetings. Then they go back to the leadership team to talk about what they think they can do, and the money they need to do it. 

Additionally, everybody could use a little team health. Everybody could spend a little time on S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and strategy. It just depends on how much time and capacity we have to go do that work. An annual planning meeting is a great way to set aside that time.

7. “Are there Tools and Tech to Help with Annual Planning Meetings?”

So many people have tried to run quarterly and annual meetings and never had a set of tools like Ninety. The alternative is putting stuff in PowerPoint or on paper, which is very static. 

It’s the connectivity of our software that people love. It’s “click, click, done” versus, “I’ve got some stuff living in a slide on PowerPoint, some stuff living in a Google Sheet or Excel, I’ve got to then flip over to Teams...” — all that’s just discombobulated. 

With Ninety, it’s less administration and you can see how the connectivity of these things all comes together. It’s the interconnectivity that really makes Ninety powerful when running annual meetings.

Our tools are dynamic. The hard part about a PowerPoint or piece of paper — I’ve got to figure out how to maintain, update and share it. In Ninety, everyone can have access to it. 

4 Tips for Running a Great Annual Planning Meeting

Here are a few more tips for running an annual planning meeting that will be important:

  • Prepare. You need to do a lot of planning ahead of time, so you can think really strategically about the business.
  • Research and talk to advisors. Find out what’s happening within the market ahead of time. 
  • Think about team health ahead of time. Quietly think about how everybody is doing. Read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” Ask, “How are we doing on trust, healthy conflict and other important indicators of team health?”
  • Put time into the S.W.O.T. Go deep on it within the software

Ultimately, it’s agreement and alignment for the next year. It’s team health. And then it’s execution. 

It’s great to have goals but if we don’t have the discipline to achieve them, then it doesn’t really matter much. 

Kris-SnyderKris Snyder is driven by his passion for working with entrepreneurs. After 25 years of building and leading five entrepreneurial companies, in 2018 he founded a growth advisory firm called Impact Architects where he serves as the Managing Partner.

Additionally, in 2019, he began working with Ninety.io, a company focused on supporting the same target market by providing business operating system software, where he serves as the Head of Finance and Partnerships. 

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