Tips on Surviving Annual Operations Planning: Part 1

How to Assess Your Operations Balance.

Annual operations planning – the time of year when those of us in Life Science Operations consider a change of career. Anything seems preferable to the impending countless questions and seemingly endless meetings. Ahead are sure to be “creative ideas” on enhancing gross margins, along with scenarios mapping decreased capital or headcount (or both).

Yet, as operations professionals, we know with some patience the process can be as healthy as it is painful.

In the following blog series, “Tips on Surviving Annual Operations Planning,” I will share concepts, ideas and a few hard-earned lessons I’ve gained in turning the annual planning pain into more than an academic exercise. Indeed, the annual operating planning process can- and should– be used to further the competitive advantage of the operational supply chain.

Start by getting ahead of the assignment- this can help stave some of the less rational scenarios. I prefer to begin by asking my team to assess:

  • How competitive is our supply chain?
  • How competitive is our fully burdened labor across sites?
  • Where do our opportunities for improvement lie?
  • What is our return on invested capital throughout our sites and how do we stack up against our peers?

These assessment questions are used to measure your operational balance: Are you effectively balancing resources across both larger strategic initiatives and the realities of sustaining and managing legacy products and projects?

Through years of experience, I have found a well-managed operational assessment process critical to determining where the supply chain excels, while also identifying gaps or deficiencies. Although it is not always easy to admit deficiencies, it is critical if you want to make substantial improvements. I have also found it easier to control the critiques if you are the one to state them- along with the goal of addressing these in the annual operating plan.

In other words, by being first to define the successes and challenges your team is facing, you can help frame the ensuing annual operational plan at the start, rather than having one forced upon you.

Keep your head up, stay positive as scenarios are rolled out and ask yourself each time: Does this improve or degrade our operational balance?

In the next segment we discuss “8 Tips to Help Your Team During Annual Operations Planning.”

To find out more about how Argonaut can improve your operational balance, please contact us at (888) 834-8892 or via email at More of this annual operational planning series will be available at

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