The Goal of Conducting Quarterly Reviews

August 4, 2011

This is the first article in an ongoing series on conducting quarterly reviews at startup and expansion stage organizations.

Effective leaders maximize the performance of their teams and companies by developing great aspirations (mission, vision, and values) and solid long-term goals, and then rigorously executing while iterating on those goals over time. As a leader, your role is to guide this process at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually). A systematic approach for execution will help you realize your goals.

Conducting quarterly operating reviews is a practice that helps managers:

  • Understand the current state of their company and markets
  • Identify and prioritize the best goals/initiatives for the following quarter (i.e., the goals that will keep your company moving forward at the highest velocity toward your long-term goals)

Additionally, operating reviews:

  • Are the heart of integrating strategy with operations
  • Are both intuitively and analytically derived
  • Provide key stakeholders and outside experts with a forum to examine and debate your current state, issues, opportunities, and priorities going forward
  • Ultimately determine the best set of initiatives to execute the following quarter

This series will show you how to formalize the process for conducting quarterly reviews and how to make the most out of them. We’ll show you how to guide your unit heads into preparing the right information for the meetings, how to have productive conversations during the reviews, and how to assess the reviews so that you can continue to improve the practice over time.

Operating Reviews Defined: Purpose and Goals

An operating review is a quarterly meeting that has an ultimate objective of putting the best priority goals in place for each operating unit for the following quarter.

This objective is met through the quarterly review meeting where a department head:

  • Shares key successes
  • Describes the current state of the unit/markets/goals
  • Identifies obstacles and impediments and ways to remove them
  • Suggests ways to improve
  • Solicits advice from others
  • Discusses a list of possible goals for the upcoming quarter

The overall goal is to develop a list of the best possible goals for the following quarter based on the pre-work for the meeting and the discussion during the meeting.

The quarterly operating review is part of a quarterly management rhythm that cycles through six major steps every three months:

  1. Quarterly reviews, where the senior management team and select outside advisors review an operating unit’s performance, current state, longer-term goals, and possible goals for the unit for the following quarter.
  2. Prioritization, where the senior management prioritizes the possible goals for the following quarter.
  3. Planning, where the unit team creates first-cut plans for accomplishing the prioritized goals, determines how many of the prioritized goals can actually be accomplished the following quarter, and determines the relationship between adjusting resources and the number of prioritized goals the unit can accomplish. The unit head then works with the CEO and CFO to lock in the planned goals and available resources for the quarter.
  4. Execution, where the unit team (and possibly others) executes the plans to realize the quarterly goals.
  5. Check, where the unit team checks progress against the goals.
  6. Retrospectives, where the unit team and other participants reflect on the goals, initiatives, activities, and results for the prior quarter and create a prioritized list of adjustments that the team proposes to make the following quarter.

Quarterly reviews enable the company managers to assess results and realign goals, strategies, staffing, and other resources in a more thoughtful manner. The entire process keeps the executive team better informed of each department’s activities, progress, goals, and needs; keeps the department heads accountable and responsible; and keeps all departments aligned toward the company’s strategic goals.

Take the Next Step: Download the Free eBook

It’s easy for managers to get stuck in the day-to-day execution of their business. They can become burdened with too many goals, conflicting goals, the wrong goals, or, worst of all, have no goals at all.

Quarterly Operating Reviews

Quarterly Operating Reviews: Moving Your Business Forward by Looking Back will show you how to establish a rhythm for operating reviews that will help you realize your most important long-term goals faster and more effectively.

Download this free eBook and learn how to:

  • Align each operating unit’s quarterly goals with the current state of your markets, other operating units, and the company’s long-term goals.
  • Focus each operating unit on the most important goals to accomplish the following quarter and minimize other activities that distract from the focal points
  • Ensure that each unit is clear on its goals; has the appropriate resources, confidence, and conviction to realize those goals; and has taken responsibility for achieving those goals
  • Maximize the opportunity for each unit to accomplish its most important goal


Continue to Part 2: Quarterly Operating Reviews: Where’s the Value?

Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.