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What is business forward planning?

Although business forward planning itself has no formal definition, it can best be defined as the process of making plans to consider what is likely to happen or be needed in the future. Simply put, business forward planning is making plans for the future in the context of a business. There is no generic or specific way of planning that qualifies as being forward planning either, it covers a broad range of planning types. This could involve forward financial planning as a way of preparing budgets for the upcoming financial year. Alternatively, it could involve the planning required to determine what the strategic future of the business might look like.

However, all business forward planning has one thing in common. It involves planning for uncertainty. Some see this as a Sisyphean task, usually a result of their history of neglecting plans soon after making them, or simply due to their lack of a crystal ball. For others, planning is seen as a necessary burden that saves both time and money in the long-term. In reality, the benefits associated with planning far outweigh any perceived inconveniences.

The large number of unknown possibilities and outcomes also mean that future-based planning is essentially assumption-based planning. This being because it's largely based on assumptions that what has happened in historical data and personal experiences will continue to happen. Of which, there is no guarantee that these trends will always continue to reoccur, which is why not all predicted outcomes can be necessarily assured.

So, where's the value in planning if accurate predictions can't be assured? Surely there's no point in planning for something that might not even happen, right? Well, the value in planning isn't always necessarily in having an accurate idea on what will happen next. For the majority of plans, the greater value comes from the planning process. It's a chance to dive deep into a business and truly understand both the internal and external environments. A time to ask questions and truly discover what is happening and why it's happening.

Think of these questions as the foundation questions. The ones that will likely determine the outcomes of the final plans. But that's not the only valuable aspect of the planning process. This process can also help identify potential blind-spots that can negatively impact final plans. Often creating plans alone can lead to scenarios where plans are created based on false assumptions. Outcomes that can easily be prevented by consulting third-party sources.

The planning process also provides the foundations for an agile approach. One that requires constant monitoring of the markets to provide the best chance to prepare and adjust for any significant market changes.

Although taking on many forms, and despite the inability to consistently predict the future, business forward planning is a valuable tool in business operations. By implementing a clear and concise planning process, businesses can better adapt and adjust their operations in preparation for the unknown. Ultimately, improving the survivability of a business by providing a strategic platform for future success.

Published Date:

January 14, 2022

Read Time:

3 minutes


Team Tidy