« Numbers Bring Understanding | Main | Unhappy News for Florida Business Owners »
Feb092011 Brings Planning to the Cloud

When we do strategic planning with clients the tools we use most often are whiteboards, flip charts, excel spreadsheets and junk food. Over the years we've adopted and adapted several templates, paradigms and models while assembling a quiver of arrows to help clients envision, articulate and execute their plans. After being introduced to (MSP) through The C12 Group I was excited to see what this robust planning tool had to offer. After a couple of weeks of poking and prodding here are my initial impressions. 

  1. It is robust. MSP looks like a web page version of a tired MS Word business plan template...until you get into the goals section. Most strategic plans fall off the tracks because businesses can't set measurable goals. MSP allows businesses to track goal progress in any number of ways and if those goals aren't measurable you start to understand that problem early in the process. The reporting and delegation features make MSP ideal for management groups and the executives charged with overseeing their plan progress.

  2. It starts out easy. Going through the MSP process feels like starting a liesurely hike along gently rolling trails. There are examples and queus to help you understand what mission, vision and values look like. The information on strategies, customer groups and competitive advantage is really good. Then you get to the part on setting organization wide goals and it feels like you are standing at the base of the Matterhorn. In my opinion MSP doesn't offer the user enough assistance in transitioning from 3-5 initiatives, to 1 year goals, to quarterly priorities. You can do it but it is tortuous.

  3. It is probably not suited to small business. Companies without a professional management layer will feel swallowed up by the process. The same robust reporting and granular progress tracking that make MSP a standout dictate that customers adopt the MSP way of assembling, executing, monitoring and revising their plan. In other words, in for a penny in for a pound. If you are going to use MSP use all of it. Don't build reporting and monitoring tools in Excel, Sharepoint, Access, Saleforce, etc. Bight the bullet and commit the time to getting everything in MSP. If your business doesn't have a middle management layer there probably will not be enough margin in the participants schedules to implement and monitor in MSP.

  4. It is a paradigm. As robust and flexible as MSP is you quickly understand that it is almost impossible to build a tool like this without imprinting a paradigm on top of it. I have become a big fan of Verne Harnish's planning paradigm and more than once I felt like I was trying to shove a square peg in a round hole. For companies that have never done strategic planning MSP can serve two valuable functions. It can show you what a planning process looks like and then it can help you put legs under that process. Those companies would still be wise to hire a planning expert to assist them in the process, but the tool itself is a good roadmap. If your company has been doing strategic planning or if your leader is already strategy minded the migration to MSP's paradigm may be painful until you finish pounding that peg through the hole.

Overall I like the tool. MSP appears best suited for organizations with a CEO champion who determines once and for all that the company is going to do strategic planning. There are lots of these companies in the middle market. They are run by executives long on operations and sales expereience and short on leadership and strategy background. I think it would take a bully pulpit and a clean slate free from prior planning to make an efficient run at MSP by a company with the DIY mindset MSP seems to be pushing.  Consultants looking at MSP for their clients need to buy into MSP's paradigm and tailor their planning process to the tool. That is easier said than done because different tools fit different clients in different ways. 

In summary, if a client came in dead set on using MSP I'd be more than happy to make it happen. I like it a lot. But when I am asked to come in and do strategic planning for a company MSP won't be my starting point. I think most experts in the field will be able to assemble a strategic plan and help the company build the tools to monitor progress more efficiently using their year's of experience and the arrows they have already assembled in their quiver.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Axiom CPA, P.A. - Axiom CPA Blog - Brings Planning to the Cloud

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks For Your valuable posting, it was very informative. Am working in Cloud Erp In India

March 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBharathi Baskar.B

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>