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Track Your Business-Planning Process and Progress

Two simple tools can go a long way toward streamlining the business-plan assembly process — and keeping everyone involved calm and happy. One tool is a simple tracking sheet that shows at a glance where every part of the process is at any given time. The other tool is a loose-leaf notebook.

The master tracker

Use a master tracking sheet to track every piece of the plan, who’s in charge of each piece, the key steps involved in completing them, and where each piece stands at any given moment. This is especially important when your plan has a large number of sections and appendixes.

You can create your master tracking sheet online, on a blackboard, or on paper. Whatever you choose, make sure you make it readily available to every member of your planning team and that you update it regularly.

The old-fashioned loose-leaf notebook

All the razzle-dazzle online resources and state-of-the-art software tools are great, but you should also consider using an old-fashioned loose-leaf notebook to keep your project organized.

You have to juggle a lot of information — versions of your mission and vision statements, biographies of your key managers, financial statements, charts and graphs, product specifications, and more — so each time you revise and reorganize, pop open the rings, slip an old section out, and pop a new one in.

A loose-leaf notebook is also one of the best — and most cost-effective — technologies around for capturing the big picture of your plan. As proof, try making sense of a long, complicated document as you scroll up and down on your computer screen.

If your planning effort involves a team of people, a loose-leaf notebook can serve as the master working document. Make sure that you make it easily accessible to everyone on your team, and be clear that the team leader must approve changes or additions before team members add them into the master document.

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