Are you conducting thorough monthly business reviews?
As they grow, many companies don’t take the time to review, reflect and reset what happening in their business every month. They usually look at an income statement and maybe the balance sheet. Although this is a good start, it’s often not deep enough to identify the most impactful opportunities or problems.
These are the companies missing an opportunity to course-correct, learn and improve. So, whether a part of a deeper monthly strategic meeting, or a stand-alone meeting, this review is a critical discipline worth mastering.
If you wait for the quarterly meeting, it might take another quarter – or two – to make changes that could benefit you, right now.
There are many stories within Profit & Loss that could make the difference between a 1% to 5% or 10% to 20% profit and growth – things that help to make you smarter, to understand and make better decisions in the future.
Walmart is famous for their weekly Saturday morning meetings when all the managers and key leaders come together to do a full review of the business, and to make changes that take effect immediately. They don’t waste a week. That’s a discipline.
deep Monthly Business Reviews
Here’s how to do a full, 60 to 90 minute review and analysis of the entire business, by the CEO and leadership team. Think of it as a sporting match – at quarter- or half-time – when you look at the scoreboard, review what’s going, watch the game tape, and adjust your strategy.
By the way, this is also a great learning opportunity for the team as they participate in the review, ask questions and hear explanations.
1. Create a core discipline
- Schedule time every month to reflect and ask questions at a deep level.
- Understand what is going on: what’s working, what’s not working and what affects all the parts of your profit and loss.
- Make key decisions to leverage a better opportunity or resolve important problems.
2. What to review
- Financials – The score at the end of the month, the output and cost of the machine.
- How you did on the income statement and balance sheet versus budget/expectations.
- KPIs – The operational indicators of what’s happening in all moving parts of the machine, from all departments.
- What’s going on in terms of time, speed, quality and cost or effectiveness.
- How are people performing compared to their goals and KPIs?
- How strong is your culture and engagement? Look at any feedback and anything that affects culture and their ability to do their work.
- How are we performing in terms of what customers expect from us?
- Are we on time, on quality or spec?
- Look at feedback and anything that affects customer satisfaction and efficiency.
3. Present the data
Ask the accountable party to present the best data available to get to the root causes of greatness or problems. No excuses, just data. Here’s what to include about Financials, KPIs and People:
- A report against budget, and against last year with a detailed breakdown of what has influenced the outcome and what matters most.
- Insights and recommendations.
- Progress on goals, where you’re stuck, and where you need help.
When you know you are accountable, you’ll do your homework to understand, and you’ll grow. It may not be perfect, to start, but you’ll get more sophisticated, over time.
4. Give context for the data.
Look at your key numbers, ideally in line charts, with up to five years of monthly data, to get context and see patterns – especially in businesses with any form of seasonality. You’ll know, at a glance, exactly what’s going on.
Create bridges for EBITA, gross margins and any other key number you need to pay attention to. A bridge starts off where the budget was, and then shows every single variable that makes up that number, and whether each individual variable is above or below what was expected. This gives you a very detailed visual breakdown of why the the actual ended up different from the initial budget.
5. Appreciate what’s working and where you are winning.
This is often forgotten when things are working well. Make sure you acknowledge and celebrate the wins. This is where tremendous value can be created in the meeting if there’s time.
6. Clarify decisions and actions.
- Be crystal clear on decisions you have agreed to and actions that need to happen before or at the next meeting – who is going to do what, by when.
- Book any follow-up meetings or actions to take place in the next few days.
- While you’re fresh, take a couple of minutes to reflect and iterate:
- What was really good about today’s meeting?
- How do you make it better next time?
Note: If you’re not capturing a bunch of action items in the meeting, there’s no accountability – nothing will happen and nothing will change.
The discipline to read and prepare in advance is extremely powerful. You know you are super pro when all the good information goes out a few days in advance, for people to pre-digest and come to the meeting with even more intelligent questions.
You can at least scan and get grounded.
- What can you do to make your monthly reporting and monthly business reviews 10% better?
Want to hear more? Listen to Episode 108 of The Growth Whisperers.
Learn the habits you need to be ready for the week and how to hold your team accountable.
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