Business planning involves actively considering your organisational or business objectives, the strategy to achieve those objectives, the market in which you are located and a financial forecast. It has been described as moving from intelligence to action.
Explore the links to learn more.
Why is business planning important?Open
Business plans, sometimes called service plans in the social care sector, are:
- tools for achieving the long-term or strategic goals of the organisation and to identify actions to be taken within a specified period in the future - usually one year but sometimes rolling over two or three years
- a means of shaping and organising a service, including an explanation of how changes in national policy, guidance or regulations will be implemented
- an explanation to commissioners of how their commissioned requirements will be met, including financial and service information such as:
- numbers of people who use services anticipated and range of needs being supported
- quality standards of services
- costs associated with providing the service - staff, management, overheads and administration costs
- price of services.
Developing a business planOpen
In social care, this involves understanding the market in which your business is located, the relevant policies and regulations, the 'customer' demand and the workforce and finance required. For existing businesses it is important to recognise that the workforce and the skills and knowledge they carry are an important resource as are existing good practice and structures.
Business objectives can be translated into roles, functions, milestones and targets for teams and individuals to aim for. These can then be periodically reviewed through a performance management system, including team and personal development processes.
Looking forward, the business plan can be a key framework for workforce planning and development. It provides a mechanism by which business strategy and objectives can be supported through a plan. The workforce plan should aim to include an assessment of service users' needs and a translation of this into demand for specific roles, staff numbers, skill requirements and training needs across the entire workforce.
Planning together with partner organisations within a local area is the starting point for working together, and independent providers will have to engage in these processes through getting involved in strategic groups.
Involving staff, volunteers and people who use services in business planning is also critical. It allows people to influence service objectives and to provide feedback on their delivery. In some service areas, such as learning disability, partnerships have been set up to manage services with the direct input of people who use services.
Finally, identifying outcomes and benefits in the current climate of productivity, value and costs is critical. This may mean assigning a monetary value to a task or activity in order to cost up a service.
Key additional resourcesOpen
- Free business planning and marketing tips (Business Balls website).
- Read how a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis can help in business planning on the CIPD website.
- Another methodology is PESTLE (political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental).
- Commissioning as a topic can be explored on the Think local, act personal website.
- Joint commissioning (North West Joint Improvement partnership website); an example of a commissioning strategy for older people can be seen here.
- Top tips for better management (ACAS website). This document helps you to understand the business case for better management. You can also consult a list of practical resources.