5 Tips for Better Annual Planning

'Tis the season of annual planning — and it's not any easy one to get through. From project calendar scheduling to OKR goal-setting, annual planning meetings are some of the most challenging gatherings of the year. (If you don't count dealing with the in-laws during your holiday dinner.)

If you've just finished mapping out your 2015 and you're already dreading your next planning session, or if you're getting ready to add the final touches to your plan before submitting it to your manager, here are a few tips from our Wrike customers on how to successfully complete your annual planning.

1. Use last year as a reference

"I find it invaluable to draw reports of time spent per project, and see where we over- or underestimated [last year] (and see which tasks tend to drain studio resources). This allows us to do better planning and invoicing for 2015." — Karien Bredenkamp

"Reflect on last year's statistics from Wrike and put together a plan with a 10% increase in activity included if you are a growing company." — Christina Anstett

2. Set realistic goals

"Be realistic.  It's easy to get carried away when planning for the new year, particularly as part of a new, fast-growing organization." — Nick Stelmazuk

3. Break down big plans into individual steps

"Start by focusing on the goals of the company, then outline your key objectives that align with those." — Nathan Hirst

"Make sure that all know where their place is in each task; break things down and keep to realistic deadlines." — Matthew Miller

4. Delegate tasks according to strengths & weaknesses

"Be specific in your tasks and delegate responsibility." — Tony Dirk Trone

"Keep a close eye on your employees so you know their abilities and their weaknesses. Assign specific tasks according to specific abilities, and help them overcome their weaknesses." — Ivana Reyes

5. Involve the whole team

"Start early, plan ahead, and keep everyone involved in the process. Save time by including everyone and it will be easier to overcome obstacles. " — Sammy

"Be sure you involve your team in the planning process. By doing so you can save yourself some time by delegating research, data collection, and more. Additionally, you will learn from the front line what obstacles they may be facing that will affect the timeline. Another bonus is taking another step toward transparency (overused buzzword... and I hate buzzwords), and you gain their trust and support for the plan and even for the Wrike process. I have found that using Wrike as a part of the process is not only helpful, but the team also keeps learning how to use the system more efficiently." — Jerry Shelton

The best advice for annual planning

Now we want to hear your first-hand advice in the comments below. Help other managers out — what tips can you share to make everyone's annual planning a little bit better?

Related Reads: If You're Not Using OKRs for Quarterly Planning, Stop and Read This 3 Ways to Create Your Project Management Calendar

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