Creating a comprehensive AR plan is a significant undertaking, with myriad steps and details. To accomplish this work in an efficient and effective manner — and to ensure nothing falls through the cracks — AR teams should follow a process similar to the one depicted in the graphic (click to enlarge).
Going through a formal process is worth the effort. We have seen clients’ AR programs receive more headcount and budget when other departments in their companies face cutbacks in tough economic environments. Why? Because these AR programs had realistic AR plans that focused on delivering business value (including sales support which is prized in recessions) that could be measured.
This AR planning process has six discrete steps (numbered items relate to numbered circles on the diagram):
- Assess your AR program. This step helps identify opportunities to build on existing programs and to improve weak or non-existent areas
- Align AR goals with overall corporate objectives to prove AR’s value and to make timely adjustments based on business needs
- Build outreach programs and activities to accomplish strategic initiatives, focusing on how the various components work together
- Map existing resources to planned activities and then budget for new and existing AR programs using the Predictive Workload Model to estimate monthly labor needs. Having a plan that requires more resources than are currently available is not necessarily bad because it realistically shows what can and cannot be done with the current resources and allows for setting priorities.
- Communicate this well-designed plan with realistic paybacks (total revenues impacted), indicating priorities so that executives may allocate more resources to AR
- Measure and compare actual vs. planned results to identify program elements that work and those that require tweaking. This feedback becomes input into the AR plan’s next major adjustment.
AR Plans should cover six rolling quarters and be reviewed each quarter.
To make “Step 1: Assess Your AR program” easier, SageCircle offers the Analyst Relations DiagnosticTM free of charge to non-clients as well as a clients. It requires two phone calls on your part and we deliver a concise analysis of your AR program. If you would like to schedule an AR Diagnostic to assess your current AR program or discuss how to apply this process to your particular situation, please contact us at 503-636-1500 or info [at] sagecircle dot com.
The Online SageContentTM Library provides much more detail on the AR planning process as well as the ability to download an AR plan template. The AR plan template is in Word with topic headers that are tagged to generate a table of contents. All you have to do is edit which sections you want and type in the details to make creating a detailed plan easier – easier but not necessarily easy. Generating a good AR plan does require work, but the payback of proactive planning is reduced stress and perhaps additional resources
For more information on the SageToolTM: Predictive Workload model for AR staffing planning which is mentioned above, please give us a call.
Bottom Line: Developing an AR Strategic & Tactical Plan involves more than completing a plan template. AR teams need a process to ensure all aspects of the plan are in place and regularly reviewed
Question: Do you have a formal process for your AR planning?