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Channel Matters Blog > February 2011 > Planning is Hard Work!

Planning is Hard Work!

by Global Administrator
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I have encountered quite a few channel leaders recently who want a comprehensive set of partner plans.  When I dig into the matter, what I find is that there is not always clarity on what that means.  Often, the real objective is merely to establish revenue goals so that quarterly and annual sales can be projected at a high level.  There is certainly no harm in having revenue goals for significant partners, but revenue goals are not exactly what others (including me) consider "a plan".

In my opinion, a partner plan needs to provide an appopriate level of detail about the goals for the partnership, an analysis of the current state of the partnership, a vision for the future state of the partnership and a series of strategies and tactics required to move from the current state to the future state.  It should provide a clear description of the quantity and quality of resources expected to achieve the plan objectives and give details about the amount and type of communications, resources, investments. measurements and reviews that will be included in executing the plan.  A properly constructed plan should be documented and clear enough so that an entirely different set of team members who did not develop it could step in and execute the plan.

Those creating the plan can think of themselves as a director of a theatrical show.  In that scenario a storyline is necessary, but much deeper detail is required to let people know when should set changes occur, what sounds and lights will be used and when, what actors and actresses should do and say and much more.  The director must have a vision for the show, but then provide a full accounting of all of the necessary elements and activities along the way.

Of course in the context of a partner plan, this is even harder, though, because not everyone works under the immediate control of the director.  So where the director of a show can get away with certain mandates, partner managers and partner plans have to be built on a context of influence and mutual understanding.  This makes the need for clear and thorough documentation even greater.

It is true that plans that are just too big to digest are not likely to be read or reviewed by anyone.  But that is not an excuse for not doing proper planning.  In fact, I have found that the challenge is really about taking a comprehensive plan and boiling it down to the most important elements.  The extra material can be available as appendices to people and groups that require that information.

The last thing on this topic is that a good plan is living.  The world changes and so must our plans to operate in it.  Regular review, measurement and updates are necessary in any good planning process.  The reviews and updates can and should be built right into the initial plan.  That ensures that the plan is dynamic and adjusting to the changing needs of both partners.

In summary, planning with high potential partners is hard work!  Done properly, it takes more time and energy than most people would expect.  Too often we say, "I will just finish that part of the plan later."  Really?  When is later?  When does anyone just find themselves with large amounts of time on their hands to do proper planning?  It just doesn't happen.  Proper planning has to be deliberate and driven.  It takes more time on the front end that expected, but when that time is invested properly, it can and does save exponentially more time later.

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