How to set your strategic objectives using the Quarterly Business Review

3-minute masterclass
ProjectiveBlog_3MM_photobySunbeam
ProjectiveBlog_3MM_photobySunbeam

Lucas Reitsema | Ruben Claes

Financial Services organisations who are currently transforming their operating model towards a system based on Agile, Lean and BizDevOps short term delivery principles, often struggle to bring Business and IT smoothly into their transformation journey. We believe one of the key reasons is the lack of an effective process which helps businesses translate their strategic ambitions into clear and prioritised chunks of work for the respective tactical (quarterly planning) and operational (sprint planning) levels. On top of that, we see that the business value of the strategic investment teams is not always sufficiently drilled down and measured into the value delivery chains.

How does the Quarterly Business Review (QBR) fill this gap

  • It engages businesses to develop a clear visionary split into different prioritised investment teams
  • It helps to define objectives and key results (OKR’s) to measure and validate successes
  • The quarterly change cycle aims to translate the company’s vision into the tactical and operational levels for the next quarter and beyond
  • It creates an alignment on cross dependencies
  • At the end of the QBR, the QBR marketplace will help clarify and resolve all priorities company-wide. Besides, major risks will also be identified and mitigated

Challenges and prerequisites

The following  points need to be considered during the set-up of your quarterly business review or need an accepted workaround if not yet in place:

  1. Leading and owning the initiative – There are several roles and mandates to make the process work; engagement lead for the QBR process, a content quality assurance and a vision on consistently improving the QBR process itself integrated with the existing portfolio processes
  2. IT legacy and deployment complexity – Still a blocker within many organisations which are needed to enable Agile delivery. Therefore, it is key to balance your QBR rhythm on a feasible release planning based on current vendor deployment possibilities if applicable
  3. Company delivery dependency and internal alignment – Ideally a large part of the planned delivery can be delivered autonomously but at many of our clients we see for each quarterly planning that at least 30% to 40% is based on cross-business unit features. This means that the QBR process can be leveraged as a platform to resolve possible alignment unclarities and planning impediments
  4. Budgeting and capacity management in a traditional manner – The agile way of working often causes friction towards the old way of budgeting change and  IT initiatives. It’s important that the team size is fixed out of budget perspective. The workload is defined by effort versus impact within a consistent prioritisation tool. These are critical to make your QBR a success
  5. Using OKRs and KPIs wisely – It can be hard for organisations to define new objectives and key results out of their current KPI structure. Therefore, it is key to define OKRs which are widely accepted in the organisation and trigger the right conversations to realise your strategic objectives

But how do you get your QBR started?

  1. Define your audience – different levels and seniority is key to get the right conversations
  2. Keep it pragmatic and simple – make sure to not over-engineer, get everybody on board. Start with pilots to build trust
  3. Stick to a defined process during the first rounds – communicate process and guidelines clearly. Only start to improve your process when you have enough input and ownership on your new methods
  4. Surprise and engage your customers – blow them away, promise the basics but deliver additional product proposals to give them perspective on possibilities

Interested in chatting more about this subject? Drop us a line. We can share how to avoid the first pitfalls, and make sure you can continue on your own.