Planning the Fourth Quarter
The resolutions, the fresh-from-the-printer diary and the classy table calendars are all ready when 31st approaches. Apart from the calendar, anything else hardly has longevity. The problem is the planning begins on the afternoon before New Year’s Eve. Business houses and software firms cannot allow such disastrous failures. It is for this reason that planning for the next year begins from October itself, and continues till January. These last three months of the year, known as the fourth quarter, is the platform to clean the slate, organize your accounts and kick-start the next financial year (beginning in April) with a vengeance.
The first thing is clearing the tax pile. There are a number of clearances that are nearing the deadline around this period. A careful monitoring will help you do this by yourself. If you are unsure, hire a professional or have one in-house so that the process is going on through the year. Take care that you do not rely on floating assets for your tax payments. Be prepared for fluctuations – in incoming cash or charged taxes; you should be able to absorb a negative wave. The last thing you want is to be fined for late payment. You might be able to pay the fines, but your reputation gets damaged in the process.
Another resource, apart from money, that comes in and goes out on a regular basis is man-power. Employees may leave or come-in in huge numbers into your organization, especially if it is large scale. Certain policies – keeping minimum bench strength or satisfying institutional commitments, may force you to hire a fixed number without requirement. You have to look at your finances and see what you need to do to accommodate these new employees. This change has also to be viewed in case of other resources – technical accessories, infrastructural amendments etc.
The most important function of fourth quarter planning is analyzing the year gone by and predicting the future course of your company. Your profit numbers need to be flaunted to attract newer and better customers. The difference between estimated and actual profits is a stark indicator of your efficiency. The goals should be real, clear and ambitious at the same time. They signal the scaling of your enterprise – it has to be ascending.