Plan Do Review Conclude

I went on a management away day over 10 years ago and these little four words have stuck with me since … Plan – Do – Review – Conclude

I remember this management away day mainly because I had to help lift some heavyweight colleagues through tyres suspended from trees without complaining about a twinge in my back.

I also remember the event organiser droning on and on about the need to Plan, and Do, and Review and Conclude and whilst I put it out of my head immediately as we got back to the cafe for a cuppa, I have to admit these four little words have stuck with me as a good basis for improving things on a day to day basis in simple terms.

What’s made me write about these today is that yesterday we went live for a fairly large customer. The call volumes and patterns were unknown and since we are offering a completely outsourced out of hours call handling service for their large uk nationwide consumer customer base, I wanted us to have a plan in place that was the best it could be with the information that was known without causing any delays or negative impact to customer service.

Our client chose us rather than our competitors who are market leaders in the inbound call handling sector and industries. Budget was not a key issue. They wanted someone who was easy to do business with, could move quickly, who they could be certain would offer great service and understanding their needs and be flexibly and adaptable and care as much about their customer service as they did.

How flattering that they chose us at The Call Answering Service ! 🙂

So those management away days of lifting the IT manager through a tyre in the spitting rain and tiptoeing through tyres on the ground whilst my leg was tied to the HR advisor must have paid off somewhere along the line. Who would have thought that hey? Here’s some of the bits I remember and have put into context of my own work experiences over the years:

1. Plan
Sounds obvious right? However our ability to plan and the different ways people can go about planning can vary so much. It’s important that you do Plan but can be just as important on how you plan. For some people they plan every eventuality, every scenario, every risk and what if. For others it’s a back of a napkin type of affair. Generally speaking the amount and detail of planning will be dependent on the activity itself so getting that balance between content of the plan and how much time to be spent planning is a lot of people find most tricky. If the consequences are big then the plan needs to have more detail and more content and so more time should be allowed. If things are easy to change and consequences not too great then planning can be quick and straight forward and does not need to be over complicated.

2. Do the thing that is in the plan
Execute the plan and do whatever it is that you said you were going to do. You can move away from the plan if you need to but keep a mental or paper note of what you have changed so you can review it later. It’s a good idea to keep people informed of where you are in terms of the stages of execution so they can help, join in, offer support etc.

3. Review
You can review this by yourself but even better to get others to review it with you such as customers, colleagues, suppliers etc. Make sure they can be honest with their review and share their thoughts in an open manner that gives the most benefit. If appropriate, ask a neutral person to facilitate the discussion or process for you. It’s good to have facts and agreed measures in place sometimes too to be very clear about what was achieved or experienced in an unemotional way. When things are new or uncomfortable people can sometimes exaggerate. This goes both ways and it can either be overly brilliant or overly disastrous depending on who you talk to! The review should be of the plan as well as the actual activity too.

4. Conclude
Really important to conclude things so that you can make a note (mental or documented) of what you will do differently next time and what action you need to take now if any. Make sure the information is easily accessible when you want to review these lessons at a future date.

This is the very last bit that usually always gets missed. People remember to take the immediate actions and carry around a few messages in their head on what to do differently next time but sometimes it’s the least important things that get remembered rather than the bigger things or the things that carried the most influence in terms of budget, timescales, quality etc.

I’m glad I helped to lift that heavy old bugger of an IT Manager all those years ago!

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