Creating a Good Business Plan | Good PCN Governance

Why every Primary Care Network should have a solid business plan

At Scale Director Ken MacNeill is highly experienced in financial and governance transformation, lover of rugby and sunny holidays. Here he discusses the importance of sound business planning for Primary Care Networks.

I have worked through many changes in many public sector areas and have seen the impact of poor business planning but why do PCNs need this now before embarking on their operational delivery?

Creating a good business plan is not just for the private sector or those aiming to make profits. It is for all organisations hoping to meet their objectives – and a key element of good PCN governance.

PCNs Mean More – so Good Business Planning is Essential

Developing a PCN means more activities, more work and more complex arrangements; more opportunities, more people and more money; more stakeholders, more risks and more scrutiny.

Far more complex than life as GP practices, all this “more” for PCNs must be planned so it can be effectively collated and coordinated. What’s more, as time progresses, it will become ever more complex with ever-increasing risks – as well as ever greater expenses to achieve success. To make all this work, planning is imperative.

Creating a Good Business Plan Makes You Consider Your Objectives

While it is all too easy to simply get dragged into merely reacting to the NHS’ seemingly endless stream of directions, your PCN should, in fact, target its own objectives within the context of NHS reforms.

Business planning should therefore begin with what you aim to achieve for yourself and your:

  • Patients & staff;
  • Health & social care partners, and, of course, your
  • Wider community

In short, business planning is about taking your PCN’s destiny into your own hands amidst the maelstrom of others’ requirements.

Business Planning Communicates and Brings Everything Together

Going well through the planning process means you will communicate, consult and debate; compromise and agree. It means you will achieve and agree upon a set of objectives and a plan on how to achieve these goals.

This is not only the first (but by no means the only) step towards everyone pulling together but will also provide you with a coherent story you can tell your commissioners, partners and patients.

Good Business Plans Make Sense of Everything

Success means bringing HR, premises and equipment; clinical, finance and risk management together into a single plan that makes sense. Without his, chaos is likely to follow. Every one of these elements requires work, as does putting the correct administrative process into place.

A Good Business Plan is Short

William Shakespeare was not referring to humour when he said: “brevity is the soul of wit”. If a PCN’s business plan exceeds 10 pages, it is most likely too long. This does not mean the details behind it will not require work – your goal is to try and make that work as efficient and effective as possible.

Good Business Plans Start Early

Setting your strategy from the very beginning, business plans can and most likely will be amended as you go. Few plans – of whatever kind they happen to be – ever go precisely how they were laid out in the beginning, but having one allows you to amend what must be done to help you stay on track with your objectives – so make having a good, short business plan your gift for the festive season!