3 Tips on Closing Out 2023 Strong While Planning for 2024
September 19, 2023
3 Tips on Closing Out 2023 Strong While Planning for 2024

For Strategy and Operations Leaders, there is a balance to be struck between ending the year out on a high note, while also looking towards the year to come. We are simultaneously trying to push towards reaching our goals for this year, and being proactive in keeping the momentum as we look ahead.

As most business leaders know, this is much easier said than done.

Think of it like creating tension with a rubber band. If we only keep our focus on this year’s strategic plan without thinking ahead, then next year’s will almost certainly be dead on arrival. However, if we start looking ahead without concentrating on seeing through this year’s plan, then we run the risk of next year’s strategy never coming to fruition, because we missed out on delivering everything needed this year. We have to find the right tension to apply to both sides of the rubber band.

The balance between execution and planning.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, we see countless Strategy and Operations Leaders struggle to find this balance in Q4. And who can blame them? Most Leaders are tasked with not only maintaining the same level of reporting on today’s key initiatives as they were in Q1 through Q3, but they are also tasked with planning strategic offsites, collaborating across every team/department to set 2024 objectives, and ensuring the strategic direction is communicated throughout the business to align priorities.

If this is done in an entirely manual way today, then ultimately, something will slip through the cracks. Which is why we built Elate - a solution to help connect long-term vision with tactical execution, and streamline how information is shared and acted upon. We wanted to help Strategy and Operations Leaders shift from reactive reporting and planning done in siloes to a unified view of company strategy that drives alignment, visibility, and proactive reporting.

From working with countless Strategy and Operations Leaders, here are three key ingredients we’ve seen in striking the right balance between execution and planning, powered by Elate. 

Related Resource: Strategic Planning & Execution Playbook

1. Put your reporting on autopilot to surface the right insights

From past lives, our co-founders know firsthand how much time is spent building reports, tracking down updates, and running meetings that only give perspective on where we’ve been, not where we’re going. 

That is why we built Advanced Reporting - a feature designed to shift from reviewing yesterday’s news to reporting tomorrow’s opportunities by streamlining how Strategy and Operations Leaders build, share, and review execution of a company’s strategic plan. 

Advanced Reporting shown in Elate.

There is no time of year where Advanced Reporting brings more impact than in Q3 and Q4.

With the capability to build custom reports that include anything from any Objectives being tracked across the business to KPIs reported on regularly, Advanced Reporting provides Strategy and Operations Leaders with the ability to streamline reporting and automate how they are shared. Whether sending to your Leadership team or to the entire company, Strategy and Operations Leaders can tailor the report with the audience in mind, and provide information with context rather than just more numbers.

When Strategy and Operations Leaders are being pulled in so many different directions, eliminating the mundane tasks of building reports and presentations for your Executive team is an easy way to stay on the front foot.

With over 65% of Strategy and Operations Leaders spending more than 5 hours per month building reports, this is immediate time that can be reallocated towards planning for next year or helping remove hurdles preventing team members from finding success this year.

Additionally, it eliminates time spent every week in Leadership meetings simply doing a roll call of updates on key initiatives. We’ve all been there. We meet every single week as a team and each Leader goes around the room simply providing an update on the status or progress of an objective to show their team did work in the past week.

Talk about an inefficient use of time.

Advanced Reporting creates a culture with a bias to action where we report the updates ahead of time and focus the meeting on what can be done to eliminate blockers or unlock new opportunities.

Time savings created to focus on next year’s strategy with an increased likelihood of delivering on this year’s plan? Sounds like a recipe for success to us. 

If you're interested, here is a walk-through of Advanced Reporting.

2. Prioritizing the right strategy 

So now that we have all this time freed up from Advanced Reporting, where does it go? Well, with Elate, we would recommend turning your attention to Plan Builder.

We can always point towards time savings as a reason to ditch a strategic planning process that consists of PowerPoint Slides and spreadsheets, but that’s too easy. With Plan Builder, the value really comes down to how well we build our plan and the conviction behind it. This comes in the form of prioritization.

Right now employees are experiencing unprecedented priority fatigue.

With hiring freezes, budget cuts, and limited resources, employees are being asked to do more with less. And it isn’t as though employees aren't willing to step up when called upon. For most, the challenge is in understanding what work to prioritize. For many organizations, there is such a sense of urgency because of slowed growth and market uncertainty that everything is a priority, thus nothing is really a priority.

That is where Plan Builder can help. 

Prioritization Matrix shown in Elate.

With a prioritization matrix that allows team members to identify the Value vs Effort, Strategy and Operations Leaders now have a way to identify potential resource constraints, bottlenecks, or even dependencies during the planning process that will prevent the organization from delivering on the overall strategy. Identifying these risks before we move into execution of the plan is critical, and something we focus on in rolling out Elate across teams.

Plan Builder identifies how many mission critical objectives are being built into the plan, and helps facilitate how those objectives are assigned to teams, communicated cross-departmentally, and supported by individual tactics.

Planning with intent vs planning to check a box. It will do wonders for your team’s ability to execute.

3. Remove friction for employees

Let’s get real. The last thing any employee wants is yet another software platform that they have to log into every day or week.

Purpose-built for Strategy and Operations Leaders, we recognized that ultimately to surface the proactive insights needed to help Leaders drive proactive decision making, we needed to streamline how employees receive and provide information critical to the success of your strategic plan.

That is why we don’t want your employees logging in each week. Frankly, we want to reduce the time they spend in the platform as much as possible by meeting them where they already work from through integrations.

We care about two really important things here at Elate: 1. Radical Simplicity that drives 2. Proactive Insights.

We want to make it easy for employees to provide updates to their Objectives or Tactics through our integrations into tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce and others. We automate the cadence for when employees provide updates and what information they share with you by sending them a nudge in Slack or Microsoft Teams. Not only does this remove friction for employees, but for companies like Seismic it has increased the number of objectives updated on time to over 75% every single week

Not only is this a true sign of adoption, but by increasing the percentage of update by 3x, Seismic now has even more information at their disposal to drive proactive decision making.

For other companies like Radiant Logic, integrations have helped them measure outcomes, not just outputs. With an increase of 115% in services revenue after introducing Elate, Radiant Logic now has measurable results they can point to in the value of an operating framework. Employee engagement is through the roof (137% increase in updates), Objectives are more successful (83% increase year-over-year), and they are driving revenue.

Sometimes the best way to drive adoption is simply highlighting the results.

Why now? Ask yourself this.

So why is this the right time to evaluate a solution like Elate?

As we’ve already shared, this is the busiest time of year for Strategy and Operations Leaders, so the furthest thing from your mind with everything on your plate is likely to be adding another solution to what might be a bloated software spend.

Well, one simple question probably provides the answer: Can you afford to run the business like you have for another year?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then maybe it isn’t the right time. But if you’ve made it this far, then there is a good chance the answer is ‘no’. And that’s ok. We’re glad you’re here.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking this is just a ‘insert your company name’ problem. This is something we are seeing across companies of all sizes and industries right now. After a decade of growth, where throwing money at problems and growth at all costs became the norm, we are seeing organizations refocus on growing the right way.

Aligning teams.

Prioritizing the right work.

Shifting to proactive reporting. 

However, you don’t have to make this transformation on your own. We are here to help you finish 2023 well, while also looking ahead to 2024 and beyond. If you’re interested in learning more about Elate as a Dynamic Planning partner, we’d love to connect. Reach out to our team today, and we will be in touch soon!