Lewis Carrol wrote in Alice in Wonderland:

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Organisations are consciously coordinated social units established to achieve a purpose and goals. In a commercial entity this is generally profit – profit is therefore the ultimate criterion which decides survival or failure.

Purpose should be supported by clear strategic direction which defines clear and measurable goals and objectives – as the Cat shrewdly asked – where do you want to get to?  Well defined planning activities are essential to achievement of purpose.

Effective and successful strategic and business planning will require a clear determination and understanding of the internal and external business environment, available capability and resourcing as well as risks and opportunities. Knowing the business environment means knowing your customers, competitors, suppliers and employees as well economic, legal, political and other relevant issues. The term environment means all those organisations or forces which can impact on your purpose or affect your performance in meeting your business goals.

This is all Strategic and Business Planning 101 and surprise, surprise, this is now embodied within the new Annexure SL series of management standards. If you wish to be certified you are now asked to identify your internal and external business environment, your interested parties and their needs. You must clearly and measurably define your business objectives and cascade them across the organisation.

So, throw out your quality and safety manuals and write a business plan!

System theory views an organisation as a unified system made up of many parts. This effectively acknowledges how all functions and activities are interrelated and can impact on each other. Systems theory includes inputs, delivery or transformational processes and outputs. Delivery or transformational process must be carefully designed to ensure your outputs meet customer needs and therefore ultimately meet your business objective of profitability.  Processes usually transcend departmental or functional boundaries. Annexure SL asks you to ‘determine’ these processes as well as their objectives (success outcomes), performance measures (KPIs), inputs, outputs, sequence, interactions, acceptance criteria, methodology as well as their risks and any opportunities. Think internal supplier and customer. Additionally the risk based philosophy of these Standards allows you to filter and prioritise your many processes to identify your key processes and predominately focus on these. Remember that no control is really needed until you have identified a risk. Use the hierarchy of control model when considering controls – procedures are at the bottom!

Annexure SL is an elegant model that is intricately interlinked. Use one section to support decisions in another – for example, the mindless, endless and useless survey of every known customer can be ditched. Now leverage off your already completed ‘Context’ customer analysis to only focus on your key customers by spend, and then only on those indiviual ‘decision makers’.

The Standards no longer require much documentation – you don’t have to write much down, just ensure that there are results – you are meeting your objectives!  Are you meeting your objectives at business and process levels? If not, we can assume something is not working and now need to dig deeper.