Why and how you should carry out a half-year business review

Published on Business stage: Scaling, Starting, Unlocking

The second half of the year starts next week (where does the time go?), which means it’s a good time for businesses to take stock and to look forward with a fresh outlook. A good way to do this is to carry out a ‘mid-year business review’. You might prefer to do this halfway through your financial year, but, either way, the aims are to:

  • Evaluate performance against goals: With half a year done, you’ve got a good idea how things are shaping up against your full-year targets. By taking the time to understand what has worked and what hasn’t, you’re better equipped to chase them down in the remaining months.
  • Revise goals and reallocate resources: Depending on how things are going, you may want to update your full-year goals. If you realise something is unachievable then you can adjust the target to be more realistic, or you may want to up your targets in areas that are overperforming. Rather than adjusting targets, though, you may just be able to move money and employee time around so that the likelihood of achieving different targets is balanced out across the business.
  • Address problems and find shortcuts: It’s always worth recognising that some things worth doing don’t necessarily contribute neatly to one target or other. Ensuring there is time put aside for additional activities that can help the business can make a big difference. Even small HR, operations or systems issues can have a big impact on the bottom line, for example, while some small, low-resource experiments can deliver better results than you ever expected.
  • Refocus the business and workforce: With a better understanding of where you are, what you need to do and what can help the business, you can distil a refreshed vision and approach for the remainder of the year. Not only will this help your business achieve success, but it can be used as a new mission statement with which to re-galvanise your workforce.

So, there are good reasons for carrying out a mid-year review, but how do you go about doing it? While they don’t need to be huge, formal undertakings, they do need some thought in order to give you the useful information you want as an output.

  • Know what you want to achieve: Every business is different and, although mid-year reviews will all be largely similar, some tailoring is sensible to ensure you get the most out of yours. B2B service firms may want a strong focus on customer satisfaction levels, for example, while manufacturers may want a stronger focus on operations and quality.
  • Plan your approach: Identify where your main focuses need to be (likely on your businesses) and work out a way to delve into them efficiently. Key individuals may need to dig into their departmental performance before any meeting and, when you do meet, you need a clear agenda.
  • Invite just those you need: Speaking of individuals in the business, don’t involve any that you don’t need. Not only is it a waste of their time that can impact the bottom line, but it inflates the time the process takes through additional discussion and debate. Ensure all individuals are involved who need to be, but only those who need to be.
  • Stick to the script: When it comes to reviewing performance and looking ahead, remember what you are there for. The mid-year review is about helping the business to run better, not apportioning blame. Keep to the agenda and avoid going down tangents that won’t ultimately help to improve performance going forward.
  • Turn outputs into actions: Finally, and crucially, don’t just write up a report that won’t then inform change within the organisation. There’s no point in going through this whole process if that’s what will happen. For a mid-year review to be worthwhile, you need to identify actions that can help to drive improvements and assign them to individuals for delivery.

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