How to create an advanced quarterly plan for your product

This is a detailed walk through for product managers and leads to create an advanced quarterly plan for their product.

There is a simplified guide if you have a small number of Goals or not working across multiple streams/managing multiple teams.

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4 steps to effective quarterly planning

Step 1 - Create your initiative.ly account
You'll increase your chances of success, because - even though a quarter is just 90 days - there's still plenty of scope to get side tracked, lose focus, lose track of initiatives and underresource some goals inadvertently. Initiative.ly is a purpose built tool to drive visibility and transparency around Goals and their Initiatives helping you sharpen your strategy execution.

Step 2 - Log in and head to the 'Goals' screen
The Goal screen pictured here already has some goals created - this is in the case you started with the simplified set up and want to scale your quarter up.

Click on (+) Tree from the right hand side column. A 'Tree' is a holder for your goals and could represent many things. We want to create one tree for each theme, team or stream of work/area of priority.

  • Area of focus examples: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral
  • Team examples: Core team, Data team, Mobile team
  • Theme examples: Customer satisfaction, Core product, Innovation, Marketing excellence

Create trees to represent areas of importance themes or teams

You can assign any of the Goals already created to one or more newly created Trees. Initiatives assigned to existing goals will only be retained for the first tree you assign that goal too.

Step 3 - Create Goals for each Tree
Create relevant Goals, both measureable and not measureable for each Tree. You can assign existing Goals to Trees. You can assign existing goals to more than one Tree.

You can add, edit, delete Goals at any time over the course of your quarter.

Create goals for your trees

Keep going till all your goals have Initiatives, and all your Initiatives have their first update. Your Goal screen would end up looking something like this.

Step 4 - Add Initiatives for each Goal
Initiatives are where the rubber meets the road. These are the streams, programs of work, lines of enquiry and broadly development work that'll happen to acheive the goal or milestone.

By writing down (into the app) how we're going after our goals - we're giving ourselves a place to journal progress and next steps - if we've invited colleagues to collaborate in initiative.ly - this drives transparency which can keep folks accountable - also, reduce teams working in opposing directions.

Create Initiatives for your Goals and leave the first update for your initiative

Keep going till all your goals have Initiatives, and all your Initiatives have their first update. Your Goal screen would end up looking something like this.

Initiatives are now created for all Goals

Step 5 - Add progress & status regularly
Click your last update to get started. When you press edit, you see the text from your last update. Updates are editable for 24hrs - after 24hrs your update will be saved as a new update. This means less clutter when you're looking back through your notes - you'll only see one update per day.

The act of writing your updates is very important. It will help organize your thoughts and clarify your actions. It will give you a sense of progress and accomplishment. If you're not feeling that sense of progress - pick an Initiative, make some progress!

Journal progress and status for your initiative regularly

Previous updates can be seen by clicking on the Initiative title:

Access the update history and more, click on the Initiative's title

If you've followed these steps, you have the basic groundwork to win this quarter. To realise this potential, adopt the following daily habits:

  1. Scan the daily email from initiative.ly or log straight in and pick an initiative to work on
  2. Make an update declaring what you'll try to get done today
  3. Once complete, or partially complete log back in and update your progress and next steps
  4. Repeat, because "Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out - Robert Collier"

You may be able to work on several initiatives in a day, just one or two - the important thing is to make progress each day - and log that progress!

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