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THE BUTTONWOOD GROUP  

Buttonwood VP is a unique approach to planning, the only one that looks at the entire process - from strategy through execution - as part of a single, unified system to drive improved results. The goal of Buttonwood VP is to seamlessly integrate Strategic and Operational Planning with Performance Scorecards, Management Reporting and Rewards. Buttonwood VP employs coordinated mechanisms, processes and policies to make this common sense goal a reality.

A "meat & potatoes" approach. One of the easiest planning solutions to implement.

Improved bottom line results as strategy is translated into measurable action. A company actually achieves what it says it will - the key to managing investor expectations.

All the arrows get aligned, everyone is rowing in the same direction.

Complete implementation guide available in the bestseller Value Planning (John Wiley & Sons).
Managers who now operate with absolute autonomy and independence may resist being made part of a new, integrated effort.

If reducing the cycle time of the budget process is the only goal, this approach is inconsistent with meeting that objective, as the new planning process requires that managers take responsibility for developing and meeting their plans.

Technology systems need to be developed to track initiatives and non-financial metrics.

Care and attention needs to be paid to the selection of the drivers of success and their key measures.


Can this work for my company?
Buttonwood VP is a simple, straight forward approach that can greatly improve the planning process. In fact, it's been dubbed the "meat & potatoes" approach to better planning. It's so straightforward that it can be easy to overlook its value. Here's an analogy. According to the American Automobile Association, the number one thing a car owner can to reduce repair bills and extend the life of her car is to change the oil every 3,000 miles. Since thirty minute oil change garages have popped up like weeds, this shouldn't be a problem, right?

Wrong. Just ask yourself this. Will you, now knowing exactly what you need to do to reduce your repair bills and extend the life of your car, change your car's oil every three 3,000 miles? Chances are very high that if you're not doing it today, you won't in the future, in spite of the fact that "now you know better."

Other things will come up, or you'll simply forget to do it. Even if you've got good intentions, chances are you'll be pretty inconsistent. Instead of consistently going every 3,000 miles, you might first do an oil change after 5,000 miles, and then after 6,300 miles or 7,200 miles.

What's missing is a mechanism to get you to do it. Something as simple as putting a notepad in the glove box with the dates and mileage of each oil change can help. Other people put a desktop reminder on their PCs. The thirty minute oil change garages try to help by putting a sticker on the inside of your windshield to remind you. Some automobile companies are even planning on installing voice reminders in the car's computer system.

The point is that knowing what you should do, and actually doing it, are two different things. You need a mechanism to connect knowing and doing.

That's what Buttonwood VP is all about.

While it might seem obvious that all the components of planning should be integrated in order to be effective, few companies have actually achieved this end. It's no mystery that strategy should drive operational planning, or that consistent performance measures should be used in both and summarized in a performance scorecard. Most people would also agree that this performance scorecard should be integrated into ongoing management reporting. Of course nothing happens without people, so plan goals should be reflected in individual objectives and performance reviews.

Pretty straight forward, so why isn't everyone doing it?

Because many companies lack the mechanisms to fully integrate each aspect of the planning process. Buttonwood VP provides those mechanisms.

The simple objective of Buttonwood VP is to unite all the major components of planning into a single, unified system. To use another analogy, there are distinct components of the "Billing to Cash" cycle from preparing and sending out invoices, to dunning notices, to collecting and depositing checks. The traditional approach was to analyze each component on its own, and try to optimize it. But companies found when they examined the process in its entirety, a whole new picture emerged. They could see the fumbled hand offs, the opportunities for disconnects, how a problem in one area affected all the others. Armed with this information, they were then able to optimize the entire system and see far more dramatic results.

Buttonwood VP takes a similar approach. It examines the entire "Strategy to Execution" planning cycle. And just as in the "Billing to Cash" cycle, the flows and connections from each component are examined and understood. Specifically, Buttonwood VP looks at how the Strategy is developed, and examines the hand offs to operational planning. Buttonwood VP assesses the existing performance measures, and how exactly they are integrated (or not) into strategic and operational planning. Management Reporting is examined as well, to assess if the measures used and targets set in the planning process are effectively being reported. Finally, the human resource policies on performance reviews, merit increases, bonus, and personal development plans are examined to see how they support the achievement of plan goals.

The result is a document that lays out the entire "Strategy to Execution" planning cycle, and highlights both the linkages and disconnects that exist. And as in the "Billing to Cash" cycle, the company can then make whatever improvements are necessary and beneficial.

In implementing a Buttonwood VP approach, there are three basic alternatives:

Alternative #1: Simply audit the existing "Strategy to Execution" planning cycle. Does every aspect pass the "Ten Foot Test"? Typically, each integration point in the planning process looks good until you get to within ten feet, then the opportunities for disconnects emerge. After the audit recommendations for improvement can be made. These improvements should focus on the nuts and bolts mechanisms, policies and procedures necessary to integrate all the components of the "Strategy to Execution" planning cycle.
Alternative #2: Clean the slate. Erase the existing strategic & operational planning processes, performance measures, management reports and rewards systems, and fully implement the Buttonwood VP blueprint as it exists in Buttonwood VP:
The New Approach to Building Value Every Day (John Wiley & Sons).
Alternative #3: Customize the Buttonwood VP™ blueprint to fit the existing needs of the organization, keeping the basic framework as a starting point.

While the Buttonwood VP approach does not have the same "brand name" recognition as, say Rolling Forecast, it is among the most thorough and complete solutions offered, and is proprietary to The Buttonwood Group LLP.

 
  ROLLING FORECASTS
  BUTTONWOOD VP
  BALANCED SCORECARD
  VBM / EVA
  ACTIVITY BASED BUDGETING
  ZERO BASED BUDGETING
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