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How to Plan Quarterly Strategies for Manufacturing Businesses

Are you looking for a way to outpace your competitors and bolster your business development? Manufacturing Quarterly Planning can help you get there. With three-month-long strategic objectives, your company stays nimble and reacts more quickly to the market. Quarterly business plans can help manufacturers meet the goals in their annual marketing plans and hone their production planning.

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Benefits of Strategic Quarterly Planning for Manufacturers
How to Plan Quarterly Strategies in Manufacturing
Contact Us for Strategic Planning Help

Benefits of Strategic Quarterly Planning for Manufacturers

The main advantage of quarterly strategic planning is that it helps you break down larger goals into chunks that are easier to achieve and track. Smaller goals let you see what works and what doesn’t more quickly than long-term goals do. Employees can engage with their work by getting involved in the goal-setting process. Quarterly planning also creates a culture that values success and accountability.

1. Set More Achievable Business Goals

When you focus mainly on annual and three-year goals, the immediacy of those goals is hard to realize. Your team might head out the gate strong, then re-prioritize as more urgent matters come across their desks. Three months in, your organization may lose sight of those objectives because the deadline is so far away. When smaller goals have a shorter timeframe to complete, it’s easier to find time to focus on them each week. With quarterly planning, you’ve hit your target within three months and begin working on a new one.

2. Pivot From Failures Early On

When you set a goal, you also create a set of steps to achieve it. If you only measure the success of those tactics once a year, it can be challenging to know if you’re headed in the right direction. With quarterly goals, if a strategy isn’t working, you will realize right away. When the end of the quarter rolls around, you can implement a new approach to help you grow your business.

3. Shape Company Culture

Quarterly planning meetings involve people across your company four times a year. Everyone contributes and looks for ways to make the company better. They may pave the way for weekly meetings with smaller teams, where individual employees discuss how they are working towards these goals. The sessions place these aims at the forefront of everyone’s mind and encourage employee engagement as they head towards their goalposts.

How to Plan Quarterly Strategies in Manufacturing

Quarterly planning keeps you and your team on the path to success. It starts with understanding what you want to measure and achieve. With smart preparation, measurable goals and a plan to execute, you can create and implement strategies with a foreseeable deadline.

1. Understand Your Key Metrics and Market Issues

To set strategies you can achieve within 90 days, first look at the numbers. Your production and manufacturing key performance indicators (KPIs) can tell you a lot about the current state of your company. Focus on what matters most to you. Here are some common KPIs for the manufacturing sector:

  • Schedule: Percentage or raw amount of unscheduled downtime.
  • Quality control: Percentage of defective products.
  • Production or output: Units per day, week or month.
  • Labor cost: Total cost of salary and wages per month.
  • Delivery speed: Shipping time or percentage of correct orders delivered on time.
  • Material cost: Total amount spent on supplies per month.
  • Equipment use: How many machines operated, percentage of machinery in use at any time or energy-efficiency of equipment.

It’s also critical to examine the market at a high level. Here are some questions to answer:

  • Are there any new trade tariffs or legislation affecting your industry?
  • What trends among your buyers should you account for?
  • Are customers ordering new things or in different quantities, and what does that tell you about current demand?
  • Are you facing any issues in your supply chain?

Know that you might not be able to focus on each KPI and market issue that are affecting your business each quarter. The point of keeping your strategy to such a short time frame is to make measurable, achievable improvements over the short term. It’s good to keep track of any of the items you find important, whether or not you set a goal to improve them. Once you get one number up or down, you already have trends to show you what your next priority is.

2. Prepare

When you take the plunge into quarterly planning, you must plan effectively. Determine who should come and be sure to involve key stakeholders. Invite leadership across departments who can contribute their creativity and perspective. Team leaders can also give you an idea of what’s happening in the day-to-day.
Set a date for each quarterly meeting three months in advance. About a week before the meeting, ask all team members in attendance to prepare as well. Each should come with an idea of what they think the company is doing right, what the company needs to stop and new approaches to put in place.

3. Create an Agenda

To create a schedule, meet with a small group of leadership one month in advance to set objectives and prepare for the quarterly meeting. As you outline your plan, make sure each person knows who will present what. To cover your strategy effectively, plan for an all-day discussion. Here’s how you can break up your agenda to keep plans on task:

  • Welcome: First, review the objectives of the quarterly strategy meeting. Review the agenda and highlight good news. The first few minutes helps to focus your group on the end goal: to develop a quarterly strategy.
  • Last quarter review: Next, review your previous quarter. Look at the numbers and any unexpected developments. Consider your old quarterly goals.
  • Prep work discussion: Have attendees voice their thoughts — what should change, stop and continue?
  • Long-term plan review: Each strategy you take on should support your annual objectives and your three- and five-year goals. So, review these plans and your current progress.
  • Lunch: Break for lunch to refuel.
  • Review KPIs: Discuss the key performance metrics for your business.
  • Set three to five top priorities: This is the true heart of your meeting. Limit your group to just a few top priorities to keep your quarter focused.
  • Test the plan: Walk through the objectives and make sure they are achievable.
  • Discuss communication plan: Now that you have new plans in place, briefly discuss how to communicate them to the rest of the company.
  • Wrap up: Tie up any loose ends and take a bird’s eye view to remind the team why these goals matter.

4. Appoint a Facilitator

As a manufacturing industry executive, your input is valuable. So, it’s essential to use a facilitator for the meeting so you and other C-level leadership can focus on contributing. A facilitator also flattens the hierarchy of your company, so your team feels comfortable sharing opinions and debating issues.

5. Set Measurable Objectives

During your meeting, taking the time to discuss the most urgent goals helps better hone strategy and ensures you curtail your goals to only what you can achieve in the short term. To make sure the team achieves these objectives, state how you’ll measure results. These will most likely come back to your KPIs. Use the SMART goal method to ensure each objective is measurable and achievable.

6. Communicate Plan

With the plan agreed upon, the final step is to communicate it to key players and the entire company. You may host a meeting for the whole company or have department heads discuss goals related to their team members. Employees need to understand how goals link to their work and how their work relates to other departments’ goals.

Contact Us for Strategic Planning Help

Here at MANTEC, our focus is on providing strategic and business solutions for the manufacturing industry. We provide strategic planning services from the perspective of a company that knows manufacturing inside and out. Since the majority of our staff has a manufacturing background, we understand the issues facing your industry and have years of experience that will help you stand out from your competitors. Learn more about our strategic planning services and contact us to discuss quarterly planning today.

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