Many businesses undertake an annual company “postmortem” to review their goals and gauge their success over the previous year. This process can help organizations understand which processes were or were not successful and what might need to be adjusted for the year ahead.
To successfully course-correct or maintain progress, leaders need to know what questions they need to answer in a year-end review. Below, members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 10 important factors that will give you valuable insights into your company’s performance.
1. What went well
An important factor that lots of businesses and owners overlook is to reflect on what went well. Often we start the new year with goals around fixing issues or creating something new. Part of a successful process — and keeping morale up — is to recall what went well and how you can keep doing the right things for your business. For exactly this reason, one of our values is to celebrate the wins. – Jay Feitlinger, StringCan Interactive
2. Why goals were or were not met
The most important factor in an annual review is to identify what worked and what didn’t in achieving annual goals. If we exceeded a goal, I analyze why so that I can duplicate that in other areas. If we fell short of a goal, I look for what we could have done differently to have a better outcome. We review individual and company goals to understand where to adjust to achieve more success. – Matt Haiker, Q Consulting
3. Business model efficiency
Review the efficiency of your business model. Since most industries have gone digital, we now have to look at how relevant our business model is versus current market developments and competition. If we don’t change when we find that our business model is lagging, then we will surely be left behind. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
4. Where you went off-script and adapted
Look at what you accomplished in this past year — which was rife with variables — and acknowledge what you planned for and what was completely new. We developed products that were not on the agenda — nor did we know we needed them. We changed and we adapted. Agility isn’t going anywhere, so it’s an important factor in these reviews. – Keri Higgins-Bigelow, livingHR, Inc.
5. Sales metrics
Understanding where leads came from, which ones turned into new business and why you lost the ones you did is critical to helping you plan for the coming year. Sales lead to revenue, and you cannot set new goals without making sure this piece of the business engine is humming along. – Susan LaPlante-Dube, Precision Marketing Group
6. Team members’ goals for the year ahead
What goals does each of your employees have for the following year? This could be a skill they want to perfect or a new role that they want to transition into. Talking about these helps the manager clearly understand where the team member wants to be so they can guide them through what they need to do to get there — which will provide a lot of value to both parties. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
7. Company turnover
Numbers aren’t always about dollars or percentages. Look at the turnover in your company. How many people resigned or retired early? Why? Is your company culture changing? If so, how, and how can this be turned around? – Michael Videira, STRAC Institute
8. ROI of specific projects and initiatives
It is easy to have an emotional attachment to pet projects, but it is important to stay objective and let the data be the driver. Reviewing these projects annually is a great way to gauge if targets were achieved and determine what needs to be revised in the coming year. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
9. Original tax projections against returns
As CPAs, we compare original tax projections against tax returns to confirm that final numbers are on target with our projections. If there is an area where we missed our target, we determine the root cause so that it can be resolved in preparation for the subsequent year. This is how we avoid tax surprises. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company
10. How you can improve
We do a “postmortem” after each project and ask two questions: “What went well? What did not go so well?” The tricky part is using this information to improve. As we adjust for the next project, the goal is really to share with the whole staff how to improve and what we each need to do to improve. – Joy Frestedt, Frestedt Incorporated