Tax season is now over and firms I have spoken with are ready to move forward with the rest of 2014. The biggest issue I have seen with many of these firms is they are coming out of the tax season with no set plan of how they are going to approach the rest of the year. When I asked why these firms didn’t have a written strategic plan, some of the responses were:
"We deal with issues as they come up and hit them while they are fresh.”
"We have a couple Partners that don’t see the value in having strategic planning.”
"We get so busy that we aren’t able to get to a good plan in place.”
Listening to these firms, on the surface it appears that all of them are pretty solid and happy. Dig a little deeper and like every firm, they have things that need to be addressed. Succession planning, recruiting and retaining talent, technology, growth and plenty of others. Regardless of the issues, the main concern I have for these firms is the lack of a written strategic plan that actually addresses these issues. Although it may seem obvious as to why every firm should have a written strategic plan, I thought it would be a good exercise to create a list of reasons why they should. After looking at my initial list, I narrowed it down to my top 5 reasons.
- Accountability. It is much easier to hold the team accountable to written goals and objectives. If it is written down…you can’t hide from it!
- Team buy-in. If people can contribute to the planning process, they are much more likely to buy-in to the goals. Buy-in is extremely difficult to achieve if firm goals and initiatives are not written down.
- Improved Communication. Firms that have written plans, tend to have more open communication with their teams because they have a basis for goal setting and evaluations. Allowing team members to participate in discussions regarding the plan will increase the chances of meeting the goals on the plan. They can see what the expectations are for the firm and how they can assist in meeting them.
- Laser focus. A solid plan allows for firms to focus on the most pressing items without getting lost in all the extra details and fluff. The best strategic plans are to the point and focused on items that will move the team forward on difficult situations.
- Re-energizes your team. A strategic plan can help energize a team that may be stuck in a rut or doesn’t seem to be moving forward like they should. Great plans are built with items that will push firms to do things outside the normal comfort zones of the team. More often than not, this produces a positive boost to the team as it can pull them out of the normal routine.
There are plenty more reasons to have a written strategic plan in place and every firm should be able to list a few. Strategic planning, while essential for every good firm, shouldn’t be so difficult that it becomes a roadblock to progress. Every firm should have a plan that flows with its culture and vision. Having the plans floating around in the heads of the Partners doesn’t help the rest of teams as they work. If your firm is new to strategic planning or just needs a refresher course, I invite you to follow this link to download our Guide to Strategic Planning and see how you can get started!