It's September already. How did that happen?!

As we approach the final quarter of the calendar year, many of us will have our first thoughts of the 2013 planning process. A few will relish the task. Many more will issue a quiet but discernible sigh.

But while time is still on our hands, perhaps I can offer up a couple of points to place a refreshing perspective on proceedings.

First up, can I ask you what the economy and your particular marketplace will look like this time next year? How about by Easter? Come to that, what will the lie of the land be in January?

Who knows! Let's face it, we live in uncertain times.

So having acknowledged our lack of visibility, why do we still pivot our discipline around a yearly plan? What exactly have marketing and public relations got in common with the time it takes the Earth to complete a particular cycle around the Sun anyway?

A good proportion of our colleagues in IT have moved towards a shorter drumbeat, often between four and twelve weeks, in an approach known as agile development. Anyone for agile PR and agile marketing?

Which brings me to my second point, return on investment. If every one of those shorter cycles is to deliver the goods to help the organisation better live up to its mission and pursue its vision, we have to improve our understanding of what's working and what isn't working more quickly and more accurately than ever.

The pressure is on.

Unfortunately, the marketing and PR professions are struggling to respond. Viewed through the most critical lens, we've moved from not bothering with measurement and evaluation much at all, to measuring what we can rather than what we should. The hypnotic precision of digital media in particular has distracted us from designing a proper, diligent approach to understanding the full picture, and the efforts of associations such as AMEC are more critical than ever.

Hopefully, these two points will provide sufficient new interest and challenge to make the upcoming planning process a little more enjoyable, at least compared to the same old same old.

Should you have the ROI bit between your teeth, I have written at greater length on the topic here.