QUARTERLYOPERATINGREVIEWS:Moving Your Business Forwardby Looking Back
TABLE OF CONTENTSForeword....................................................................................................
FOREWORDWhen your business was started, there werea set of goals that were importantto your founders.They wanted to create...
Understanding Operating Reviews:What Are They and Why Are They Important?Effective leaders maximize the performance of the...
The overall objective is to develop a list of the best pos-    THE BENEFITS OF OPERATING REVIEWSsible goals for the follow...
Additionally, businesses can benefit significantly by set-ting aside time to bring their management teams, unit           ...
CUSTOMIZING YOUR APPROACH TO MATCH YOUR COMPANYOperating review meetings must be designed to align with a company’s maturi...
Preparation, Execution, and Assessment: Key Stepsto Conducting Successful Operating ReviewsNow that you understand the ess...
ENSURE EACH OPERATING UNIT UNDER-                               	 HAVE EACH OPERATING UNIT DEVELOP    2.                  ...
This part of the meeting serves as a forum to:                ongoing performance reports and everyone is expected•	 Remin...
5.    ASSIGN ROLES                                            THREE EXECUTION ROLESThere are three primary roles for both ...
•	 Following up with individuals regarding action items     The first operating review meetings tend to be longer.   that ...
Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back
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Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back

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Does your company have the strategic direction and focus it needs to achieve its goals?

It’s easy for managers to get stuck in the day-to-day execution of their business. They can become burdened with too many goals, conflicting goals, the wrong goals, or, worst of all, have no goals at all. They may also have managers or employees who aren’t performing well without even realizing it. These issues lead to lower market competitiveness, customer attrition, and the loss of their best employees.

Instituting quarterly operating reviews can help. Regular reviews allow you to improve, refine, and adjust executional performance, and equip you with the strategic direction and focus you need to achieve the goals you set for your business. Establishing a quarterly rhythm for operating reviews will help you realize your most important long-term goals faster and more effectively. The power of operating reviews comes from their ability to:

- Align each operating unit’s quarterly goals with the current state of your markets, other operating units, and the company’s long-term priority goals
- Focus each operating unit on the most important goals to accomplish the following quarter and minimize other activities that distract from the focal points
- Ensure that each unit is clear on its goals; has the appropriate resources, confidence, and conviction to realize those goals; and has taken responsibility for achieving those goals
- Maximize the opportunity for each unit to accomplish its most important goal

A quarterly operating review process is something you must have in place if you are going to make the most of your company’s potential. There’s no other meeting that more consistently impacts the performance of a company. Check out this eBook to learn about the benefits of operating reviews and how to conduct them successfully, gain insights into some of the most common challenges about conducting operating reviews and how to solve them, and obtain the practical guidance and tools you need to start implementing your own.

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Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back

  1. 1. QUARTERLYOPERATINGREVIEWS:Moving Your Business Forwardby Looking Back
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSForeword............................................................................................................................... 1Understanding Operating Reviews:What Are They and Why Are They Important?........................................................................... 2 Operating Reviews Defined.......................................................................................................2 The Benefits of Operating Reviews.............................................................................................3 Customizing Your Approach to Match Your Company ...................................................................5Preparation, Execution, and Assessment: Key Steps to Conducting Successful Operating Reviews...... 6 6 Preparatory Practices That Will Improve Execution...................................................................6 A Few Basic Rules for Quarterly Operating Review Execution......................................................11 Properly Assessing Operating Review Performance....................................................................11Common Operating Review Challenges and Solutions to Overcome Them.................................. 12The Road Ahead: Checklists and Additional Resources to Get You Up and Running.................... 15 Checklist for the CEO ............................................................................................................16 Checklist for the CFO ............................................................................................................17 Checklist for the Unit Head Leading the Operating Review.........................................................18 Checklist for the Meeting Participants......................................................................................20 Checklist for the Facilitator.....................................................................................................21 Operating Review Assessment.................................................................................................22 Additional Resources..............................................................................................................26
  3. 3. FOREWORDWhen your business was started, there werea set of goals that were importantto your founders.They wanted to create something exciting and meaningful that could impact or disrupt a particular market. They hopedto build a highly effective, cohesive team and they aspired to grow the company efficiently and smartly, pivoting andadjusting to respond to new opportunities or embrace new goals. If everything worked well, the company reached a levelof success that allowed it to grow.As your company expanded, you hired more people and split the company into departments. You probably also hirednew operating heads for some of your departments as they continued to grow.Many organizations “go sideways” at this point, as managers sometimes get stuck in the day-to-day execution of thebusiness and sometimes have too many goals, conflicting goals, the wrong goals, or no goals at all. They also mayhave managers or employees who aren’t performing well and not even realize it. These issues lead to lower marketcompetitiveness, customer attrition, and the loss of their best employees.Expansion-stage organizations need a new approach to ensuring that they have the right people and that they aredoing the right things the right way.That’s why, instituting a quarterly operating review process — even though it takes time to assemble and conduct —is critical, regardless of your company’s maturity. These regular reviews ultimately allow you to improve, refine, andadjust executional performance, and equip you with the strategic direction and focus you need to achieve the goalsyou set for your business.Put simply, a quarterly operating review process, like the one we lay out in this eBook, is something you must havein place if you are going to make the most of your company’s potential. As OpenView venture partner George Robertspoints out, given the option of a quarterly operating review or a quarterly board meeting, the operating review winsevery time. There’s no meeting that more consistently impacts the performance of a company.“Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back” covers the basics of quarterly operat-ing reviews, why they’re beneficial, how to prepare for them, and how to execute and assess each meeting. Addition-ally, we’ve included a set of checklists that should help every person involved in quarterly operating reviews ensurethat they’ve done everything in their power to create successful meetings.So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started! Scott Maxwell Senior Managing Director and Founder OpenView Venture Partners Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 1
  4. 4. Understanding Operating Reviews:What Are They and Why Are They Important?Effective leaders maximize the performance of their “Success isn’t a matter ofcompanies by developing great aspirations (including a chance, but rather a mat-mission, vision, and values) and solid long-term goals.They then rigorously execute against those goals while ter of choice. This conceptcontinuously iterating on them over time. As a leader, really encapsulates whyyour role is to guide this process at regular intervals(weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually), thereby help- having a clear strategic direction anding to ensure that you have a systematic approach to strategic plan with a focused imple-realizing your goals and being successful. mentation process in place is important.Conducting quarterly operating reviews can get youthere by helping managers: Business success isn’t going to happen• Understand the current state of their company and by accident. You must look into the future markets and create a plan for wherever you’re• Identify and prioritize the best goals/initiatives for trying to go.” the following quarter (i.e., the goals that will expe- dite your company’s progress toward meeting long- Erica Olsen, Co-founder and COO, M3 Planning, taken from Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies term goals)Operating reviews are at the heart of integrating strategy OPERATING REVIEWS DEFINEDwith operations and are both intuitively and analyticallyderived. They also provide key stakeholders and outside Operating reviews are typically quarterly meetingsexperts with a forum to examine and debate the cur- (although they can also be held weekly, bi-weekly,rent state of your business as well as the top issues, monthly, semi-annually, or annually) that are used toopportunities, and priorities going forward. Ultimately, set and prioritize operating unit-level goals for the fol-they help you determine the more important initiatives lowing quarter.to work on during the following quarter. During operating review meetings, department heads:“Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business • Share key successesForward by Looking Back” is a guide to formalizing the • Describe the current state of their unit, markets,process of conducting quarterly operating reviews and and goals— more importantly — making the most out of them. It • Identify obstacles and impediments as well aswill show you how to guide your unit heads to prepare ways to overcome themthe right information for these meetings, how to have • Suggest ideas for improvementsproductive conversations during the reviews, and how to • Solicit advice from othersassess the reviews so that you can continue to improvethe practice over time. • Discuss possible goals for the upcoming quarter Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 2
  5. 5. The overall objective is to develop a list of the best pos- THE BENEFITS OF OPERATING REVIEWSsible goals for the following quarter based on the prepwork done for the meeting and the discussion the meet- From a corporate perspective and that of the CEO, estab-ing produces. lishing a quarterly rhythm for operating reviews will help you realize your most important long-term goals fasterWhile the time between operating reviews can vary, this and more effectively. The power of operating reviewseBook focuses on quarterly operating reviews as part comes from their ability to:of a quarterly management rhythm that consists of theoperating review itself plus five additional steps, all of • Align each operating unit’s quarterly goals with the current state of your markets, other operating units,which are conducted every three months: and the company’s long-term priority goals1. Quarterly Operating Reviews. The senior manage- • Focus each operating unit on the most important ment team and select outside advisors review an goals to accomplish the following quarter and mini- operating unit’s performance, current state, lon- mize other activities that distract from the focal ger-term goals, and possible goals for the unit for points the following quarter. • Ensure that each unit is clear on its goals; has the2. Prioritization. Senior management prioritizes the appropriate resources, confidence, and conviction to possible goals for the following quarter. realize those goals; and has taken responsibility for achieving those goals3. Planning. The unit team creates initial plans for meeting prioritized goals, determines how many • Maximize the opportunity for each unit to accomplish of them can be accomplished the following quar- its most important goals ter, and determines how adjusting resources can For department managers, operational reviews create an impact the number of prioritized goals the unit opportunity to: accomplishes. The unit head then works with the • Gain a clear perspective on where the department is CEO and CFO to lock in the planned goals and now and where it needs to go by stepping back from available resources for the quarter. day-to-day management activities to assess the unit4. Execution. The unit team (and possibly others) and its goals executes the plans to meet the quarterly goals. • Gather ideas and perspectives from other senior man-5. Check. The unit team monitors the progress being agers and outside advisors to help improve the list of made against the goals. goals for the following quarter6. Retrospectives. The unit team and other partici- • Identify your most important goals and initiatives to pants reflect on the goals, initiatives, activities, move them forward over the next 90 days and results for the prior quarter and create a pri- • Ensure that your unit’s quarterly goals are aligned oritized list of adjustments that the team proposes with the company’s most important long-term goals to make the following quarter. • Agree on the resource requirements and activities from outside the department (e.g., other depart-Integral to the quarterly management rhythm, operating ments, outside advisors) that will be available to helpreviews enable managers to more thoughtfully assess meet the goalsresults and realign goals, strategies, staffing, and otherresources. The process keeps the executive team better Many of the business benefits of operating reviewsinformed of each department’s activities, progress, goals, come from the work done to prepare for the meetingand needs. It also ensures that department heads are itself. It’s often difficult for managers to step away fromaccountable and responsible, and that all departments day-to-day business tasks and consider the unit from aare aligned with the company’s strategic goals. broader perspective. Operating reviews help create this discipline. Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 3
  6. 6. Additionally, businesses can benefit significantly by set-ting aside time to bring their management teams, unit How Can You Improveheads, board members, and outside advisors together Market Clarity?to share their unique experience and perspectives. Withquarterly operating reviews, each of these role players The answer is simple in theory, but difficult tocan voice their insight and help the company identify achieve in practice. Companies need strong, long-new goals or opportunities that align with the business’s term senior management level support to improveoverall strategy. market clarity. There are four management prac- tices that will significantly raise your probabilityAnother important benefit of operating reviews is that for success:they create opportunities for the operating heads to hear • Prioritizationfrom one another as well as from outside parties (board • Collaborationmembers and external advisors) whose unique experi-ences with other companies and can be extremely useful. • Iteration • Rigorous quarterly reviews at the senior management level Once an expansion-stage Every quarter, your company’s market clarity team software company raises needs to check its progress, reflect on the work and results to date, and determine what the best growth equity, it’s all about prioritized actions are to improve market clarity in the following quarter. That work should then execution — not capital. be reviewed and discussed at the senior manage-Quarterly reviews are all about improv- ment level, leading to final prioritized plans that the senior management team can commit to.ing, adjusting, and refining executional The key discovery that OpenView has reaffirmedperformance. If I had to choose between over time is that companies can actually design their growth by creating high market clarity. Asa board meeting or an operating review you penetrate and begin to own target segments,to have each quarter with our portfolio you can use market clarity to increase and main- tain your stranglehold on those segments.companies, the operating review would Of course, it’s only helpful if you maintain it. Marketalways win. It’s the one meeting that clarity is not a one-time commitment. As your com- pany grows and expands with new product offeringsconsistently makes a difference in the and new target segments, your market clarity will need to follow that same growth trajectory.performance of the team.” Scott MaxwellGeorge Roberts, Venture Partner, OpenView Venture Partners Senior Managing Director and Founder OpenView Venture Partners Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 4
  7. 7. CUSTOMIZING YOUR APPROACH TO MATCH YOUR COMPANYOperating review meetings must be designed to align with a company’s maturity in terms of size, management sophis-tication, and development (i.e., startup, expansion-stage, or large growth-stage company).As with all practices, too much process and structure creates bureaucracy, while too little can lead to chaos. The trickis to achieve the optimal level of process and structure for your company’s current state and to then adjust it over timeas the company matures. For example: An early stage company might have a single operating review meeting with the entire team, including board members and external advisors, present to review the company’s operations in their entirety. Early stage operating reviews might focus on product and customer development, reviewing strategies at the same time that operations are EARLY STAGE being reviewed. COMPANY In other words, early in a company’s development, quarterly operating reviews may serve as both an operating and a strategic review until the company matures to the point where it is able to execute on annual strategic planning meetings. As the company grows and matures, the team might add additional meetings to ensure that other areas of the company are getting adequate focus and attention. An expansion-stage company might have an operating review for each of the CEO’s direct reports and include the senior management team and board of directors in each meeting. As the company grows, it might substitute certain members of the EXPANSION-STAGE board with specialized outside advisors for specific meetings to ensure that the team COMPANY is getting the best idea. A large growth-stage company might have an operating review for each of its major functional areas and business units, and include certain members of the senior management team and specialized outside advisors at each meeting. LARGE GROWTH-STAGE The remainder of this eBook focuses on operational reviews for expansion-stage COMPANY companies (generally companies with 20 to 300 employees). However, these approaches can be customized to companies of any stage or maturity level. As with any practice, there are many ways to execute operating reviews, so take OpenView’s approach as a standard practice that can be customized into a best practice to meet your particular needs. Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 5
  8. 8. Preparation, Execution, and Assessment: Key Stepsto Conducting Successful Operating ReviewsNow that you understand the essence of quarterly operating reviews and why they can improve your expansion-stagebusiness’s short- and long-term performance, it’s time to dive into how to actually prepare for, execute, and assessyour own review process.This section provides a complete list of practices that will help you better prepare for your quarterly reviews, along withsome steps you need to take to execute and assess those reviews. Ultimately, this collective process will increase theholistic value of your quarterly operating reviews and significantly boost the impact that they can have on your business.Ready to get started?6 PREPARATORY PRACTICES THAT WILL IMPROVE EXECUTIONVince Lombardi once famously said that the will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win. Inother words, wanting to be successful at something — whether it’s football or business — is the easy part. Preparingwell enough to execute the drivers of that success is the real challenge. That’s why the six practices below can be thedifference between executing marginally helpful quarterly operating reviews and highly informative ones.Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t completed all of these items before your first operating review — these practicesevolve together in an iterative manner. Focus on just getting started with the operating reviews on a quarterly basisand develop these practices as you have time. Your goal should be to try to adjust and improve each of these prac-tices, as well as your overall operating review practices, on a regular basis. DEVELOP LONG-TERM, COMPANY-LEVEL from this practice and develop them before proceed- 1. ASPIRATIONS AND GOALS ing. (For details on this process, check out OpenView’s eBook, What Really Matters: A Guide to Defining andSince one of the outcomes of quarterly operating reviews Realizing Your Company’s Aspirations.)is to ensure you are aligned with long-term goals, youneed to make sure you’ve established those long-term Alternatively, you should at least set aside some time togoals in the first place. Ideally, you’ll have done that develop and communicate three to five long-term goalsalready and communicated your mission, vision, values, (milestones) so that you have something to align yourstrategy, and annual goals for the company. You should quarterly goals to. This approach works particularly wellalso ensure that all department managers have a clear for early stage companies that have not yet locked into aunderstanding of those goals and that they’ve clearly specific product market and/or a specific customer seg-conveyed them to your employees. ment. However, it can also be useful for early expansion- stage companies that are not ready (for whatever reason)If you don’t have your complete long-term aspirations to develop a complete set of long-term goals for theand goals worked out, it might be good to step away company. Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 6
  9. 9. ENSURE EACH OPERATING UNIT UNDER- HAVE EACH OPERATING UNIT DEVELOP 2. 3. STANDS ITS LONG-TERM GOALS AND ITS OPERATING SYSTEM FRAMEWORK RESPONSIBILITIESTo complete this step, the CEO and CFO must lead the Each unit head (working with the CFO and, in somecharge together by: circumstances, the CEO and/or outside advisors) should have an objective framework in place for the unit to• Determining the long-term goals that each operating assess itself on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, and unit head is responsible for. Ideally, each operating quarterly). Overall, there should be visible and well- head owns one of the annual goals, though the goals communicated information available to all of the senior may need to be divided differently (e.g., disaggregate managers, including: certain annual goals into their functional components and then assign them). Ensure that operating heads • The unit’s longer-term goals and, possibly, its aspira- understand and have the skills and resources to tions accomplish their goals, and that they are not so over- • A summary of the unit’s current quarterly goals and burdened that they cannot accomplish them (two to measures against those goals four key goals per manager is a good rule of thumb). • Plans to achieve these goals, including the specific• Ensuring that what it means to successfully complete tasks and associated deliverables each goal is clearly defined. Whatever your definition • Current operating methodologies of success is, it should be easily measurable so that it’s crystal clear to everyone what achieving the goal • KPI results and targets means. Sometimes, that entails having a measure • Analytics and drivers behind each gap in performance (e.g., new customer bookings) and a target (e.g., $10 (updated periodically) million). Other times this involves something that is • An organizational chart that identifies key gaps more binary (e.g., hiring a top VP of Customer Service • A unit calendar that helps everyone understand the by a specific date). key meetings and the overall approach to managing• Requiring unit heads to understand the importance of the unit quarterly operating reviews. A successful review pro- • Ongoing lists of issues and a list of possible goals for cess will be difficult to implement if the unit heads the following quarter aren’t giving adequate attention to the effort or don’t • Required resources, if any, to achieve goals truly understand their responsibilities. • Anticipated impediments and plans to remove them• Delivering draft presentations and other supporting This information will help the unit during its weekly and materials to the participants well in advance of each monthly meetings and prove valuable as the unit head operating review. The goal here is to make certain prepares for quarterly operating reviews. that ample analysis and thought have gone into devel- oping any materials being shared at quarterly review meetings. Pre-review meetings are a good venue to 4. SET AN AGENDA ensure that one-on-one feedback and guidance are given to functional managers. The best operating reviews are separated into two sec-• Making it clear that all unit heads must take responsi- tions: one that catches everyone up on the unit and bility for their respective goals. It’s critical to establish the current state of the markets, and another where the purpose, responsibility, and accountability through- conversation is focused on the unit’s future direction. out the organization. Having all unit heads attend the The first part is retrospective in nature; the manager up- operating reviews establishes a broad understanding dates everyone on the progress since the last operating of the business, key dependencies, shared resource review, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, and why. allocation issues, and shared objectives. Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 7
  10. 10. This part of the meeting serves as a forum to: ongoing performance reports and everyone is expected• Remind everyone of the unit’s longer-term goals and to read and comment on them. In this case, the retro- spective portion of the meeting can be very short and be the goals that were set for the prior quarter used to answer any questions the team has.• Compare results against goals from the prior quarter• Review the successes and failures of initiatives from The second part of the meeting is prospective in nature; participants help the operating manager determine the the last operating review best possible goals for the following quarter. This part of• Analyze KPI results for the previous quarter against the meeting serves as a forum to: short- and long-term targets • Discuss the potential goals developed by the operat-• Dive deeper into the KPIs that are off-target and dis- ing unit prior to the meeting cuss possible causes for the gaps • Brainstorm a list of potential initiatives going forward• Examine the organizational chart • Exchange a list of potential things to stop doing going• Review assessments and/or capability maturity of the forward unit, including: • Prioritize (first cut with a rough cost/benefit) the goals – The unit’s customer/market impact during the for further review at a later prioritization meeting previous quarter – Methodologies/processes used by the depart- • Discuss the new resources that might be required to ment, and the KPIs and targets for each meet the goals and the resources that will be freed – People up through productivity improvements, as well as the tasks that the unit will stop doing – Organizing approaches – Economic model KPIs and targets • Examine possible impediments to success and approaches to removing them• Discuss obstacles to improvement • Determine a rough prioritization of the unit’s most• Describe the current issues and opportunities in the important goals department and the list of ideas for improving them During this part of the meeting, participants shouldSome of the best companies spend very little or no time offer independent ideas to identify the complete set ofon the retrospective portion of the operating review. potential goals, debate the merits of each, and deter-Instead, they regularly circulate the information in mine the short list of prioritized goals. “Operating reviews are a crucial part of our management cadence because they force us to focus strategically at least once a quarter, even if it is just for an afternoon. The reality is, we often set strategic goals, and then as soon as the planning meeting is over, we forget about them. With the rigor of a quarterlyoperations review, not only are you forced to reflect on why you did or did not achieve thosegoals, you have to do it in front of the rest of the management team and potentially even aboard member. It’s an amazing vehicle for focus and honesty.”Pete Gombert, CEO, Balihoo Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 8
  11. 11. 5. ASSIGN ROLES THREE EXECUTION ROLESThere are three primary roles for both the preparation 1. The unit head is responsible for leading the conversa-for and execution of an operating reviews practice (this tion on his or her unit, including:eBook contains several attachments that help each of the • Presenting the unit’s current state and proposed goalspeople involved with the roles to initiate the practice): for the following quarterTHREE PREPARATION ROLES • Absorbing the meeting participants’ points of view, and identifying the insights that will help the unit1. The CEO is responsible for: perform better in the future• Ensuring that the team is fully committed to the oper- • Facilitating a discussion around alternative goals and ating reviews, that the unit has the right set of outside the overall prioritization of those goals advisors, that the first set of KPIs for each operating unit has been established, and that dashboards to 2. The meeting participants (CEO, CFO, other operating report on the KPIs have been established heads, the board of directors, and outside experts) are• Reviewing and commenting on draft presentations responsible for bringing a unique outside view to the management team, including:• Providing support for any necessary changes moving forward • Asking penetrating questions• Helping the unit heads identify better approaches for • Helping the unit heads identify better approaches for assessing their units assessing their units and each unit’s strengths and weaknesses• Helping to identify each unit’s strengths and weak- nesses • Bringing new practices and people to the attention of the operating unit heads to help the units function• Bringing new practices and people to the attention of better the unit heads to help the units function better • Offering possible goals and helping to prioritize the• Offering possible goals and helping to prioritize the list of goals list of goals prior to the meetings 3. The meeting facilitator is responsible for setting the2. The CFO is responsible for: tone by nurturing dynamic, constructive debate. Any of• Ensuring that each operating unit understands its bud- a number of people can serve as facilitator, but ideally get and has the resources it needs to meet its goals the facilitator is the only person playing that role, and is• Educating unit heads about their unit’s economic not a unit head or a meeting participant. models and long-term financial and operational goals; In addition, it’s helpful to assign someone to handle the how their units fit into the company’s overall eco- typical administrative tasks associated with important nomic model; and how their units are measured meetings, including:• Providing top-notch (and independent) objective • Preparing and distributing meeting agendas financial and operating metrics to the unit • Informing participants of the time, date, and location• Ensuring that the appropriate financial and opera- of the meetings tional control systems are in place • Booking the rooms and arranging for the technology3. The unit head is responsible for working with the needed as well as refreshmentsCEO, CFO, and operating unit to develop the material • Updating the people presenting and preparing infor-for the operating review. mation for the meeting • Taking notes during the meetings Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 9
  12. 12. • Following up with individuals regarding action items The first operating review meetings tend to be longer. that were agreed to at the meetings As the senior management team gains experience with• Following up with participants and gathering feed- the rhythm, the preparation materials get better, and back and assessments on how to improve each oper- the participants become more knowledgeable about ating review meeting going forward each unit, the meetings will tend to become shorter. Well-run units with managers who are fully prepared• Preparing and distributing notes from the meetings with the right material tend to have the shortest operat- ing reviews, which last about one hour. 6. SCHEDULE THE REVIEWS INTO Operating reviews should be held at the beginning of YOUR CALENDARS every quarter. A series of meetings (one for each unit) can be scheduled over the course of one or more days,A typical operating review will take one to three hours preferably off-site.of dedicated time depending on the preparation of thematerial, the importance of the unit to the company’s Since many board members will participate in operatingcurrent long-term goals, and the number of issues in reviews and the material from reviews will go into boardthe unit. packages, it is helpful to schedule the operating reviews directly before the company’s quarterly board meeting. “Conducting quarterly business reviews is always a challenge because expansion-stage companies are often understaffed and overworked. The last thing one needs is another review. But this type of thinking can be dangerous. The CEO needs to make surethat these reviews are relevant and consistently done. Good reviews ensure thatyour operating plans stay current.”Michael Sharma, CEO, Exinda Networks Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back | 10

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