Run on Numbers: New Year, the time to set new goals and targets

How the government plan affects us all. Picture: Independent Newspapers.

How the government plan affects us all. Picture: Independent Newspapers.

Published Jan 15, 2024


Planning is essential for individuals, companies, government institutions and NGOs. There is a well-known adage: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. The beginning of the year is a suitable time to plan.

There are various timelines for planning, such as short-term plans, medium-term plans and long-term plans. An example of a long-term plan is The World Energy Outlook, which drafted an integrated road map for net zero emissions by 2050. The organisation offers world aggregated data for all three modelled scenarios (Steps, APS, NZE) and selected data for key regions and countries for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2050, as well as historical data (2010, 2021and 2022).

1. One must, however, distinguish between planning and strategy. Planning involves determining what needs to be done. Strategy determines how we intend to make the shift from where we are to where we want to be. Strategy is a broader concept that encompasses planning but involves the overall approach or method used to achieve a goal. It is about making high-level decisions and formulating a plan of action that considers the larger context, including resources, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strategy involves setting objectives, identifying the best course of action and allocating resources effectively. It is about gaining a competitive advantage or achieving a long-term vision.

2. Comprehensive business goals and marketing budgets are non-negotiable actions for companies. Setting goals and establishing target-oriented strategies are pivotal steps for companies to navigate their journey towards success. A comprehensive approach involves meticulous planning, encompassing all facets of business, particularly when it comes to outlining marketing budgets.

Defining Strategic Objectives. Foundational to any business is the establishment of clear and measurable objectives. The objectives must be aligned with the overarching mission and vision of the company. The alignment ensures a cohesive direction and purpose across all operational levels.

Understanding Market Dynamics requires the act of analysing market trends, consumer behaviour and competition is imperative in formulating data-driven goals. It involves a thorough assessment of industry shifts, consumer preferences and emerging technologies. The knowledge forms the basis for setting realistic and achievable targets.

Companies often delineate their target audience through segmentation, allowing for a more focused and personalised approach. The process involves identifying key demographics, psychographics, and behavioural patterns. Targeted marketing strategies can then be devised to cater to the specific audience segments.

Implementing the Smart (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) framework is integral. The method ensures that goals are clearly defined, quantifiable, attainable, pertinent to business objectives and bound by a set time limit. Smart goals provide a structured approach to goal setting, enhancing clarity and accountability.

Budget Allocation and Resource Planning. Once the objectives are delineated, allocating financial resources becomes crucial. Determining marketing budgets involves assessing the cost implications of various strategies and aligning them with the anticipated outcomes. A balanced approach is necessary, considering traditional and digital marketing channels.

Measuring return on investment is pivotal in evaluating the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. Establishing relevant performance metrics allows for continuous monitoring and assessment. Key performance indicators aid in gauging the success of implemented strategies and facilitating necessary adjustments for optimal results.

Setting goals and allocating budgets is not a one-time task but rather an iterative process. Businesses need to remain adaptable and flexible in response to dynamic market conditions. Regular reviews and adjustments to goals and budgets ensure relevance and agility in the ever-evolving business landscape.

Achieving comprehensive business goals involves a collaborative effort across departments. Departments such as marketing, finance, operations and sales must synergise their efforts toward achieving common organisational objectives. The collaboration fosters an integrated approach, maximising the overall impact of strategies.

In conclusion, the process of setting comprehensive business goals and allocating marketing budgets is multifaceted. It demands a strategic approach, incorporating data analysis, targeted strategies, clear objectives and continual assessment. The methodical approach ensures that businesses remain agile, adaptable and on track toward achieving their desired outcomes.

3. The Department of Energy Affairs published its plans and contains some remarkably interesting numbers in the Government Gazette on January 4, 2024 No. 49974.

Unrealistic goals or a lack of a clear plan can make resolutions challenging to achieve. Instead, setting specific, achievable and measurable goals, along with a plan of action, can significantly increase the likelihood of success.

Eskom chair Mpho Makwana said it had embarked on a turnaround journey to improve plant performance and reduce load shedding. Makwana set targets of 60% Energy Availability Factor (EAF) by March 31, 2023, 65% by March 31, 2024, and 70% by March 31, 2025. In the financials of 2022, Eskom had “planned” to have an EAF of 74%. It achieved 60%. The graph below illustrates just how naïve and amateurish the statement is. Planning that consists of empty words intended to be pleasing to the ear is misleading and only leads to misuse and squandering of resources. It is unthinkable that the board of Eskom earns more than R41 million a year, and the statements above reflect their collective irresponsible nature in that it is not close to reality. Former president Jacob Zuma promised South Africa that by December 2016 there would be no more load shedding. The statement is repeated as if it were ever a possibility.

4. Alarm bells should ring out loud

The following paragraph forms part of the publication for comments: Integrated Resource Plan, issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. The National Environmental Management Act: Air Quality (Act No 39 of 2004) provides that coal power plants under Eskom’s fleet amongst others, must meet the minimum emission standard by a certain time, or they would be non-compliant and cannot be legally operated. If implemented, the decision will result in the loss of baseload generation of capacity in the short to medium term of approximately 16 000 megawatts immediately and 30 000MW after March 2025.

To give perspective to the numbers, consider this data: Stage 1 load shedding means that up to 1 000MW of capacity needs to be shed. Consumers can expect to be shed up to three times over four days for two hours at a time, or three times over eight days for four hours at a time. Stage 2 load shedding means that up to 2 000MW of capacity needs to be shed.

It is interesting to note what happened to the potato price in 2023. It escalated by 50% year on year. The reason given by the bureau for food and agricultural policy is that the continuous effect of load shedding has prevented farmers from pumping sufficient water to their potato fields which resulted in a 25% reduction in the crop size for the year.

If we were to hold a referendum on the topic, it would be no surprise if the voters state that we can tolerate the air as is, provided the power cuts are resolved.

5. Setting goals and producing a report is merely the beginning, it needs to be accompanied by a strategy to implement it. Accountability for the plan from the highest level down to the lowest level in the organisation hierarchy.

No more high salaries and performance bonuses should be tolerated. How can South Africa afford 55 000 government officials earning more than R1m a year while we have the highest unemployment rate in the world?

On a personal level, my advice to individuals is to learn new skills via the vast available free platforms there are. Know how artificial intelligence can contribute to your skills in the workplace.

* Kruger is an independent analyst.