As 2014 comes to a close, many business leaders are feeling the familiar strain of evaluating the past year’s successes, while planning for the year ahead. Did we meet our performance goals? Did we come in at or under budget? How should this year’s results impact our planning and budgeting for the coming year?
CMSWire recently sat down with Joel Trammell, author of "The CEO Tightrope," and founder and CEO of business management software provider Khorus, to discuss strategies that CEOs and other leaders can put in place to help ease the tension that those questions inevitably create at year end. Here is his suggested three-point checklist:
1. Use a Rolling Budget
Rather than viewing budgeting simply as a year-end process, Trammell believes that the budget should be reviewed and adjusted if necessary on a regular basis. “I’ve found it much more constructive, instead of thinking about the budget as a once-a-year process, to use a ‘rolling four quarters into the future’ projection. That way, your organization’s budget parameters remain constant and constantly updated,” he noted.
For example, “That would mean, when you finish Q1 of next year, you would project a Q1 of the following year." Trammell feels that by working in this manner, leaders can avoid the stressful and counterproductive but all too typical scenario in which line managers scramble at the end of the year to spend their excess funds for fear of reducing their future budgets.
Trammel’s method also reduces the opposite risk in which companies might miss out on growth or investment opportunities when they present themselves merely because they weren’t pre-allocated in the budget.
And he reminds us that the holiday season is stressful enough without locking into irrevocable budgeting decisions. “Giving everyone a chance to do a once-over on the next four quarters, and make changes as appropriate, is a much better solution.”
2. Own and Communicate Your Corporate Vision
Trammell believes that the year-end timeframe presents an ideal opportunity for CEOs to make sure that the vision they’re communicating to the rest of the company accurately reflects any changes, new information or new opportunities that might have arisen over the course of the past year.
“The first role of the CEO is to own the vision,” said Trammell, “I find that year-end is a good time to step back a little bit and think about what’s changed in the world in the last 12 months -- what we believed to be true coming into the year that, maybe at the end of the year, we don’t believe anymore.”
So, how can CEOs ensure that everyone in the company is in sync with the vision? “First, you’ve got to tell them where you’re going,” said Trammell. “The CEO has to communicate company and quarterly goals in a clear way that lets managers translate those goals into clear objectives and deliverables throughout the system. In this way, employees can clearly understand their individual roles in contributing to the vision.”
The second vital ingredient according to Trammel is establishing a mechanism for two-way feedback that lets the CEO understand how employees there are progressing toward their goals and what issues or impediments need to be addressed. To maximize value, such a feedback mechanism must be ”unfiltered and transparent, so that people can communicate what they’re actually seeing in the field,” cautioned Trammell.
3. Assess Your Human Resources
“I’m a big believer that year-end is a good time to think strategically about company resources, and the biggest resources companies have are their people,” said Trammell.
He noted that year-end is a great time to for a company to review its org chart and ask three questions about every person in the organization:
- Are they in the right jobs?
- Are they performing at the right level?
- What are new opportunities they should have in the year to come?
How Khorus Software Can Help
Based on the need for CEOs to create dynamic budgets, visions and human resources strategies, Trammell’s company Khorus has created software to help automate and document the processes to make them more far-reaching and transparent.
“What my company’s software does is allow CEOs to implement a system in which everything is written down, so that every worker in the organization can see not only what they’re responsible for, but how those goals translate to every level of the organization,” stated Trammel.
By putting everyone in the organization “on the same page,” the software frees CEOs to do what they do best: passionately communicate their vision, engage employees, and ensure that leaders can more accurately predict overall company performance.
As Trammel reminded us, “What better to give the stressed-out CEO as year-end crunch time approaches than a software solution such as Khorus that create a planning, budgeting and management framework to improve 2015 performance?”