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As I undertook my planning for 2019 I wondered if other people use the same sorts of tools I have been using to manage my business and nonprofits.

I got to thinking that perhaps it would be useful for some of our clients, partners or readers if I were to share some of the tools I have developed and processes that I use to plan every year.

Planning for me is broken down into multiple categories and for the purpose of today’s post I’m going to break it down into three;

The Critical Path Plan 

What I have referred to as the “Critical Path Plan” is a board full of tasks that are due throughout the year and are critical for remaining compliant in areas such as finance, tax reporting, superannuation, risk management (including occupational health & safety).

I also include a reminder for me to check in on other aspects of the business from a management viewpoint such as staff and volunteer satisfaction, celebrations and building maintenance.

I personally use monday.com a project tracking tool linked to my calendar as an additional reminder. I have added a copy of this document in Excel format as I understand not everyone can afford a project tracking tool (though I highly recommend it).

This is one of the most helpful tools for me where I keep track in one place all items that don’t fall under the direct activities category of the organisation.  When you download, you can delete any item not applicable to your business and add any other items you require.  This resource does not constitute advice and you need to determine all the legal requirements and internal processes you have to follow.

Download example Critical Path Plan here

The Operational Plan

The operational plan is something I prepare with my staff and my volunteers and provide to the Committee of Management or Board. The operational plan for me is best prepared in direct alignment with the strategic plan meaning each activity we undertake directly contributes to one of our strategic goals.

I also include in this planning session a calendar that covers the entire year highlighting key dates such as public holidays and school term dates and any time that we might be closed during the period. I then work with staff to look at the key events/programs/activities and we ensure we appropriately space out the year and gives us an instant visual to comprehend just how much a staff member and the business has on their plate, to determine if it is achievable or if we need to rethink the way we have planned the year. It also gives us a good visual of how each month looks for the organisation as a whole.

Download operational plan example here

Download yearly calendar here

The Content Calendar

The content calendar I have shared is very simple.  I find planning content is much easier when I assign a theme for the month, determine how often I post and select the media (email, blog, socials etc) and assign responsibilities to staff.

It doesn’t mean that you will have to come up with 12 themes it just means you follow a theme for a designated period and you plan the kind of information you will share amongst your network.   You might have multiple calendars for your various stakeholder groups.

When social media, emailing and other communications are shared by multiple people it can help to have the content calendar printed out (the old school way) and posted up in the office. This tool is best used when you have more than one person contributing to its development.  Getting your ideas out in advance, as a team, will ultimately help the person writing, creating or sharing to not get overwhelmed and take less of an ad-hoc approach.Pl

Download blank 2019 content calendar here

Want to learn more? 

If you would like to learn more in-depth about planning or strategizing for the year ahead in areas such as social media, websites, marketing and relating this to the overall business objectives you might like to join our next Strategizer just CLICK HERE to find out more.

In conclusion, I hope that some of the tools I have shared today might help contribute to a prosperous and well planned year for you and your business.


Bel Temby – Director of Digital Services Lab Pty Ltd.

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