One of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is perfectly suited to your ideal approach to building a ClearFactr Plan:
Begin With The End In Mind
With ClearFactr, this translates to:
Think of what your audience is going to be looking for and lay out your plan with obvious steps leading to that conclusion.
The audience of your plan could be one or more investors, a boss, a co-worker, a spouse – maybe a single person represents all of those people! Answer the question: What are they going to want to see that will make them as excited as you are about your plan?
But before going any further, let’s address one basic topic…
What’s a “Plan”, anyway?
In ClearFactr, a Plan can represent any series of numerical events over time. Yes, that’s pretty abstract. In reality, it could mean a number of things:
As a working example, let’s assume you have a business plan that can show a Net Profit that’s growing over time.
Think backwards from that Net Profit… where does it come from? Almost certainly there is some kind of Revenue, and very likely there are one or more Expenses, with the Net Profit being the Total Revenue – Total Expenses.
Keep digging… Where does the Revenue come from? What types of Expenses are there? How can all of these things fluctuate in the real world? Assuming that your revenue or expense components are going to be the same each month or quarter isn’t realistic. ClearFactr allows you to easily simulate reality instead.
Some other terms
Each of those above aspects of the plan are going to become rows in ClearFactr’s grid, and ClearFactr calls those Attributes. (You may find ClearFactr’s Glossary to be helpful at this time, too).
The other dimension of the grid is time – each column in ClearFactr is called a Timepoint. Timepoints are typically regularly spaced: months, quarters or years, for example.
A Plan starts by defining a time frame and detail level, say, “3 years, quarterly.” From ClearFactr’s Dashboard, you can click on the New… button and a panel will appear from which you define the plan’s time frame.
Once you’ve defined the time frame for your plan, you need to start adding Attributes to it on the left side of the grid. But to get the most out of ClearFactr, you’ll want to add Attributes in a way that the Simulator can work with them.
In practice, that simply means not embedding things into formulas that might change over time.
For example, in Excel, it might be common to have a cell labeled “Sales Growth Rate”, in cell “B3” for example, and then a bunch of other cells which refer to it.
In ClearFactr, if you make that “Sales Growth Rate” an Attribute, the Simulator can then vary that rate and others through a blizzard of variations to better simulate future possibilities. You know that realistically, your “sales growth rate” isn’t going to be the same in each subsequent month, quarter, or year. Factoring it out into its own row allows you to capture that reality.
So instead of your formula for this quarter’s Sales representing the last quarter’s sales times 1.1 (a growth rate of 10%), the formula is better represented as last quarter’s sales times this quarter’s sales growth rate.
The above is best represented in ClearFactr like this:
Now the Sales Growth Rate can be modified on a per period basis, either manually to represent specific Scenarios, or automatically, in a Simulation. Either way, you’ll wind up with a more detailed and more realistic plan.