Developing Planning Modules: Compartmentalizing your plan by developing planning modules or "chunks" allows you to attack the plan in parts, yet still maintain a cohesive plan. I have found that developing an annual plan made up of quarterly targets _ thus becoming a rolling quarterly forecast financial model _ allows for a cohesive structure along with the nimbleness to react to market conditions. At the end of each quarter, a true_up process to align results to annual targets needs to be re_forecast and adjustments made.
Strategic Planning & Goals: The first step is to identify the key company goals which will be the over_arching direction of the plan. These goals should be focused on three areas: financial, growth initiatives and alignment to the company's vision/mission. This provides the overall direction of the company by establishing high_level goals that will be achieved by tactical initiatives. The overall plan should be 1 to 3 years with measurement mileposts monthly, quarterly and annually. While the plan is put in place at the onset of the year, it should be constantly re_forecast with actual results throughout the year.