7 min

Best Practices to Run a Well-Organized Quarterly Planning Meeting

Discover quarterly planning best practices that keep your business agile and productive for success.

A quarterly planning meeting is an organizational meeting in which managers, supervisors, and staff discuss their goals and plans for the next three months.

Quarterly planning is a crucial component of the agile business model. Top organizations worldwide, spanning all industries, conduct quarterly planning meetings to review progress, set short-term goals, and stay on track with business growth.

By breaking the year into short-term planning, it allows organizations to stay agile and pivot as necessary.

In this article, we'll dive into quarterly planning meetings, who needs them, and how to execute them effectively to drive your organization forward.

Quarterly Planning Meeting: An Agile Strategy

Quarterly and annual planning oscillate as an operating rhythm in the agile business model strategy.

Annual planning meetings help you determine your big goals for the year. It is when you'll choose and evaluate most of your strategic planning for the year. Often, however, these high-level strategies don't give your team a specific direction of which way to go.

Quarterly planning meetings address what your team needs to do through short-term planning. These meetings are a period to analyze how you're doing and recalibrate your team's performance to reach your yearly goals.

Think of it like flying a plane. Imagine you want to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo. It's not as easy as planning a flight path in a straight line from Los Angeles to Tokyo.

There are many things to consider, such as safe flight paths, airport schedules, the weather, where you need to refuel, and so on. That's why you break down the flight path with short-term milestones, such as going to Sydney, Singapore, Manila, and finally, Tokyo.

The same concept of breaking down your path applies to yearly and quarterly meetings. Annual planning meetings determine what you want to achieve by the end of the year. Quarterly planning meetings chart the course from where you are now to where you want to be.

Who Needs to Do Quarterly Planning Meetings?

Whether you're a small-scale entrepreneurship or a big corporation, quarterly plans are essential to keep you on track with your company's overall mission and vision. The quarterly meeting is a way to:

  • Break down your yearly goals into short-term operational strategies
  • Keep your team focused and aligned on specific quarterly KPIs
  • Clarifying any misunderstandings about the company's goals or strategies
  • See how goals are being met or not met
  • Identify potential problems and the methods to avoid them
  • Determine solutions to resolve current roadblocks
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of present policies or plans

Quarterly planning meetings may not apply to fresh startups just getting started and working hard to make it through another day of chaos.

However, once a company is over the initial hump of building a product or differentiating its service, the need for regular meetings to align goals and resources becomes crucial.

Best Practices of an Effective Quarterly Planning Meeting

When conducted effectively, quarterly planning meetings recalibrate your team so your organisation can fast-track towards your yearly goals. Here are some best practices of quarterly planning meetings to get your team ready to go full steam ahead.

  1. Prepare an organisational vision
    Before the meeting, the organiser or person responsible for the meeting outcomes needs to prepare an organisational vision — the long-term goals you want to achieve in the coming year.

    The quarterly planning meeting should start with a review of your organizational goal. Doing this will unite the team around one focus to effectively plan your quarterly milestones and goals.
  2. Invite a cross-section of members and key stakeholders to the meeting.
    It’s essential to have key stakeholders from each department in the meeting. Not having a voice present from every department could end up wasting everyone’s time.

    Imagine if you had a quarterly planning meeting with only your project managers and marketing team. You create a fantastic plan for expansion over the next quarter, only to later find out from the finance team that the company doesn’t have the resources to support the program.

    In the end, you’ve only wasted everyone’s time. Worse, you’ll have to spend more time in another quarterly planning meeting to create a new plan.
  3. Choose the right KPIs
    One of the most important outcomes of a quarterly planning meeting is clear KPIs for each department. How do you choose the right ones? Here are some quick tips on how to select and track the proper KPIs:
  • Make sure the KPI is quantifiable and measurable.
  • Organise your KPIs based on how they directly contribute to your objectives.
  • Determine if each KPI is a lagging indicator or a leading indicator. A lagging indicator is a measurable result of an activity. A leading indicator is a quantifiable activity that drives the development you want.
  • If you’re unsure what activity will help you reach your goals, you need to choose a lagging indicator KPI. You will then be able to test out different activities and measure the same KPI to determine which activity gives you the best result.
  • If you know which activity gives you the best results for your goals, then you must choose a leading indicator to scale the results you get from that activity. You will then be able to test out different scaling strategies while measuring the same leading indicator.
  • Please don’t make the mistake of choosing a KPI simply because it’s the easiest to measure without assessing whether it’s a lagging or leading indicator for your quarterly goals.
  • Assign the person responsible for measuring and reporting each KPI.
  1. Send out an agenda.
    Send out an agenda in advance with information that can help members prepare for the meeting. It will shorten the meeting and make it more productive.

How to Create an Effective Quarterly Planning Meeting Agenda

One of the most important things you need to do to run a game-changing quarterly meeting is to prepare an effective agenda.

With so much to cover and discuss in a quarterly planning meeting, it can be challenging to keep track of everything. Using a quarterly meeting agenda template or agenda tool, you can ensure you have an agenda that keeps your team focused on the right items at the right time.

Here’s an example of a quarterly planning meeting agenda template with the primary sections you need to cover. Below this template, we’ll dive deeper into each section with example discussions and outcomes.

Quarterly Planning

Example discussion points and outcomes for each section

  • Review of the previous quarter
  1. What went well?
  • We were able to exceed our quarterly goals for new customers.
  • We have successfully managed to increase revenue by 30% from last year.
  • We have been able to improve customer satisfaction by 20%.
  1. What did not go well?
  • There was a decrease in our conversion rate from last quarter.
  1. What were the issues?
  • The marketing team had difficulties with their campaigns and initiatives.
  1. How can things be improved?
  • Conduct a more in-depth analysis of the conversion rates to understand why they decreased this quarter and the corrective steps we can take.
  • Recalibrate for the upcoming quarter
  1. What missed goals from the previous quarter should you focus on?
  • We need to focus on our conversion rates.
  1. Do you need to recalculate or adjust any missed goals to make it more realistic?
  • Reduce the number of marketing campaigns and initiatives. Focus on increasing the quality of one campaign per month.
  1. Which areas that are working well do you want to scale?
  • Run customer surveys with new customers to understand their needs so we can retain them and extend the customer life cycle.
  1. Identify new goals and KPIs.
  • Redesign the online store to make it more user-friendly
  • Decrease website bounce rates
  • Risks and opportunities
  1. What are the risks of each KPI?
  • Redesigning the website could reduce performance in organic search.
  1. What are the opportunities for each KPI?
  • Improving the user experience on the online store can increase conversions.
  1. How can you reduce the risks?
  • Analyse the website bounce data to find out what is working and what needs improvement.
  1. How can you leverage the opportunities?
  • Execute a marketing campaign after launching the new website redesign to increase traffic and boost organic search.
  • Stretch goals
  1. What are your minimum goals for each KPI?
  • Decrease website bounce rates by 15%
  1. What are your stretch goals for each KPI?
  • Decrease website bounce rates by 25%
  • Tracking
  1. Assign a person responsible for each KPI.
  2. Determine the reporting procedure for each KPI.
  • Company cultural health and team performance
  1. Review core values and how employees are living up to them.
  • “Communicate kindly with customers”
    New customer reviews often relay enjoying communicating with the team. This has contributed to improving customer satisfaction.
  1. Are there any leadership issues that need addressing?
  • Absenteeism in one department has gone up and needs investigating to understand if it’s a leadership issue or otherwise.

Get Ready for Your Next Quarterly Planning Meeting

By creating and sending out a results-oriented agenda for strategic planning every quarter, your team can prepare analysis and ideas in advance.

Being well-prepared with a meeting agenda makes your quarterly planning organized, effective, and powerful without wasting everyone’s time on unnecessary discussions, conflicting directions, or unclear objectives.

Visit Agendalink for a convenient and flexible way to design and send out your next quarterly planning meeting agenda. We are continuously improving our features to help your team have more productive meetings that don’t waste people’s time.

Agendalink Team
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