Everyone knows that in order to go somewhere, you need to know where you are going.
So, at the start of each year at Clearplan, we put together a plan that acts as a guiding document for our business.
To create a plan, you need to start with identifying goals. Then work towards achieving them.
That’s easy to say. In practice, it’s a bit more work than that... But it’s worth the effort.
Once your goals are outlined, everyone in the company can focus on the exact steps needed to complete the goals.
Let’s walk through the steps.
1) Identify Opportunities
The easiest way to identify opportunities is to talk to your customers.
At Clearplan, we encourage and love user feedback. This feedback process provides insight on what users actually want. This feedback is crucial to building a product people value.
Throughout the year we track and review all user feedback. We have a Trello board specifically designed to track feature requests and feedback from users.
While this user feedback is very important, what's most important is understanding the user’s problem.
Often, the user can't explain their problem.
... It's your job to figure out the problem—what is the user trying to accomplish?
Then create a solution based on that.
At this stage, lay out all the information:
- Feature Requests from Users
- Internal Ideas from the Team
- Requests from Partners and Vendors
- Must-Have Features
- Nice-To-Have Features
The more information, the better the decisions will be.
2) Agree On Goals
This part is hard. You can’t do everything.
As a Team, you need to decide what goals go into the document.
With a limited number of resources, writing down 500 goals means nothing—you simply can’t do them all. In this stage, the goal is to prioritize 500 goals down into 10 goals.
It’s key to look at this from a business value perspective. In other words:
What will create business value without getting bogged-down with projects that add little value to the product?
When we talk about goals, the focus is the user problem first. At this point, don’t waste time debating how to solve the problem (that comes later).
Also, not every idea provides equal value to the customer (or the business). Some goals are necessary, but cannot be readily seen by the customer, like database migration.
Questions to Ask at This Point:
- How valuable is each goal from a customer perspective?
- Are these goals a nice-to-have feature, or a must-have feature?
- Is everyone aligned behind your strategic direction?
- Do you have the right people on the team to pull it off?
- Do you have the funding?
3) Determine What To Work On
Making the right decision about what to work on next is critical. When mapping and exploring ideas for the year, get input from everyone on the team before determining the goals.
Here’s Our Breakdown:
- 2 BAHG (Big. Ass. Hairy. Goal.)
- 8 Sub Goals (Broken down into 2 main goals per quarter)
What’s a BAHG? These are the goals that are so outrageous that almost every person in your life will say “YOU'RE CRAZY!”
These need to be CRAZY goals. Push yourself. You can do it.
Most things that seem impossible at first, slowly become possible after you have taken the first step.
After you agree on 10 goals—2 BAHGs, 8 Quarterly Goals—put them in the calendar.
Doing this will really help your Team visualize what needs to happen at what time.
A lot of the goals will depend on features you need to develop. So, putting your goals in a timeline is critical.
Our Timeline is Simple:
- 2 Yearly BAHGs
- 2 Goals Per Quarter
4) The System
We set goals so that we can have something to work towards, right?
But... most people forget about the counterpart of goals: The System.
The goal isn’t the most important part—the system is.
Let me explain.
What’s the difference between goals and systems?
Goals are something you work toward attaining. The system is how you attain the goals.
If you’re a runner, you might have a goal to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for each week.
At Clearplan, we use goals as a guiding document for the business. The system is the actual work needed to make the goals a reality.
At this stage, we have defined the goal. We use the system to layout the solution and figure out how we can do it technically.
The System, really is project management. How are we going to get things done?
Building great software is not a simple task. It requires constant focus on what’s most important for your users, and what’s going to continue to drive the growth of your business.
The Goals + System method of delivering results has worked extremely well for me.
If you want to do anything worthwhile, you need to write your ideas down, then determine a method for achieving those ideas.
Here’s the Main Keys:
- Identify your goals
- Break your goals down
- Put those goals into a timeline
- Put the goals into a system
- Work the system
Doing this will help you create amazing things.
At the end of the day, I don’t want our customers to buy Clearplan and never learn how to use it. I want customers to turn into raving fans.
For Clearplan to be successful, it has to be impactful. It has to help people make money... to get results from using the software solution.
Identifying goals and creating systems is the only way to do this.