How to Do Strategic Planning
Reaching your goals without a plan can be incredibly difficult. The same can be said for many businesses, which is why strategic planning is a popular management activity among the most successful organizations. Strategic planning helps owners and managers set company priorities, strengthen their operations, and identify how to improve their business.Strategic planning is all about developing a strategy to achieve goals for a business and determining the details and tactics that will help you attain these aims. If you develop a balanced plan and always aim to improve and examine your strategy, you can help your business achieve new heights.
Developing Your Strategic Plan
Call a meeting of top team leaders and managers.Before you can start devising a strategic plan, you need to make sure that the people developing the overall strategy can get feedback from those that must implement it on the ground. Talk to team leaders and management and get their perspective on the problems in your organization. Include them on discussions in development and planning so that they can evaluate the plan's feasibility and uncover any unforeseen costs that may be incurred when trying to implement it.
- Including top management into developing strategic plans will also get them to feel a sense of ownership over the strategy, which will help with implementation.
- Consider the time and human capital that's required for your strategic plan and talk to managers to see if it's possible that employees can adapt or change their schedules to meet their new goals.
- Create an agenda that lays out a presentation of your strategic visions and that leaves time for managers and team leaders to provide feedback.
Analyze your strengths and opportunities.Think of your organization's competitive advantages, or the set of traits that gives your company an advantage over its competitors, such as a lower manufacturing cost or proprietary technology. Reflect on how you can use your strengths to take advantage of opportunities you have available due to the consumer demand, or changes in the social or cultural climate that may help drive sales of your product or service.
- Strengths may include a highly successful or efficient team, such as a good marketing an advertising department or strong sales department.
- To find more opportunities that play to your strengths, make sure that your team is watching external factors like consumer buying habits or social trends.
- For instance, an opportunity may include a growing infrastructure in another country if you are a utility provider or construction company.
Assess your weaknesses and threats.Weaknesses are internal factors that make your organization more inefficient and that waste time and money. Threats are external factors that could hinder your business and include things like an economic downturn or a competitor. Find the departments within your company that are struggling and determine their weaknesses.
- Weaknesses could include things like poor leadership, a lack of skills or expertise, or a poor reputation with customers.
- Internal factors can be solved with additional training or re-allocation of responsibility.
- External threats that can be combated by concentrating on your company's strengths to overcome what is happening in the industry.
- Be honest about your weaknesses so that you can devise a plan that targets specific portions of your organization.
- Sometimes team leaders or employees can have valuable input on threats and weaknesses.
Set goals for your business.Determine what goals you want your company to achieve. Make sure that there is a significant driver behind the strategic decisions that you make, and that these decisions are always made with your goals in mind. Once you have goals in mind, you can begin to create strategies to achieve them.
- Some goals may include increasing revenue, getting a larger customer base, or increasing employee productivity.
- Keep your goals realistic and attainable so that your team strives to accomplish them instead of giving up.
- Make sure to set a timeline to accomplish your goals.
Create a strategy and short-term tactics.Your strategy will be determined by the type of industry that you're in or the type of work that your organization does. An overall strategy is your plan on how to achieve long-term goals.Tactics are more easily measurable and are actions that you can take that will help you reach your strategy. Think of what will assist in achieving your goals and create an action plan with tactics that you can use to reach it.
- Strategies can include things like increasing profits by reducing manufacturing costs or increasing employee satisfaction by improving employee training.
- Tactics include things like changing employee hours or updating the packaging on a product.
Develop a vision for the business.The vision for your business is the long-term goals that you want your organization to be able to achieve. Develop a cohesive vision by making sure that your strategy adheres to your company culture, branding, and your current consumers. Build your strategic plan around accomplishing your end vision.
- Being able to explain your vision will give an idea to stakeholders, investors, and employees clarity in understanding the reason for your strategic planning and your goals.
- A vision may be something like achieving much greater eco-friendly standards by 2025 or becoming one of the largest companies within an industry.
Implementing Your Strategy
Task managers with developing an operational plan.Once your overall plan is complete, you'll need to work alongside top managers to make sure that they can develop a meaningful operations plan to accomplish their goal. For instance, it's not enough to install equipment that will save workers time to construct auto parts; you must also factor in the time and cost of re-training employees and details like installing and receiving the new equipment.
- An operational plan may include things like re-training, or changing an existing operation to be more efficient or utilize newly acquired equipment or hardware.
- Another operational plan may include notifying or sending out memos to employees on a change in policy.
Hold team members to deadlines and results.Holding team members accountable for their results will make a more reliable team. Having the right team is critical for implementing a strategic plan effectively. Make sure to be specific about deadlines and the consequences for not completing a task.
- Have an open and honest conversation with employees who meet deadlines. If they consistently miss them, consider finding someone else that can meet the requirements for the job.
- If you must talk to an employee, you can say something like, "Bill, I know that there's been a lot of operational disruption this month, but you've consistently missed the last three deadlines in a row. Can you explain what you think is stopping you from meeting the deadlines?"
- If you need to fire someone because they miss deadlines, you can say something like "Joe, your progress has been less than acceptable for the last month or two and your missed deadlines are affecting the rest of the team's progress. I'm going to have to ask you to pack your stuff and leave."
- Check with HR to make sure that firing the employee is consistent with legal guidelines and company policy.
Evaluate your strategic plan's effectiveness.Continue to monitor the progress of your strategic plan once you implement it. Consider whether your plan or tactics have helped you reach your goals. If you haven't reached your goals, it's time to evaluate your plan again and figure out if it's an aspect of the plan that's preventing you from achieving them, or if the plan and tactics are not being implemented correctly.
- Check in with managers and team leaders to see if your plan is being implemented. If the changes that your strategic plan have not taken place, then you can't hope to achieve your goals.
- Use benchmarks to check in on the progress of your plan as it develops.
- For instance, if your plan included increasing revenue in the first quarter of 2019, but you failed to meet your goals, go back and evaluate where your plan is failing.
Adapt to improve your plan.When you are developing your strategic plan, you should also develop a process on how to change and adapt with the market. New technology, changes in the industry, or unforeseen operational difficulties may make your plan ineffective. Instead of letting a weak program continue, you should change your course of action and alter it to fit the current reality of your company and industry.
- For instance, if you change your customer service system to an automated system which saves money on employee cost, but the majority of clients threaten to leave because of the modification, it may be time to alter your original plan and offer limited operator services as well.
Improving Your Strategy
Hold productive meetings.The most productive meetings have clearly stated objectives and allow everyone to put in their unique input and perspective. Keep an agenda for the meeting and don't allow it to go off topic or break down into conjecture. Good meetings should have employees walking away with a better understanding of what their colleagues are working on and how it ties into their work. It should also provide them clarity on how their tasks influence the overall strategic plan.Take new problems and create short-term tactics and solutions.
- Meetings will also help you gauge the effectiveness of any strategic plan by getting input from employees.
- Create a printout of the agenda before the meeting so that everyone can stay on the same page.
Use the right people.Once you set up your strategic plan, it's important that you allocate the best employees to the task to maximize your plan's efficiency. If you are monitoring the success of the plan and notice that team members skills or talents aren't being used in the best way, look to reorganize your team. Talk to managers to help you evaluate who is best for what department and move people around if you have to.
- Place people in the roles that they have experience in.
- In order to successfully implement some strategic plans, you'll need to hire new talent.
- Make sure that you choose people who work well together, as well as basing people's placement upon their own skills or personalities.
Listen to the demands of the consumer.Strategic plans are only as useful if it creates additional value for the customer in some way. If your strategic plan is something that your customers don't agree with, they can potentially stop buying your products. Develop a strategic plan with the customer in mind. Come up with strategies that will give them additional value or that they can appreciate.
- Read market research to see trends in the industry that you're in.
- Communicate with customers via social media or polls to determine what they like about your strategic plan.
- For instance, if consumer spending skyrockets on internet streaming services, your company should consider going into that space even if the company has sold traditional media in the past.
What would I be strategically planning for?
To do strategic planning, the first thing you should do is call a meeting of top team leaders and managers and work together to determine your business' strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Once you have a set of goals you want to accomplish, create a strategy for achieving them and break it down into short-term tactics you can use to carry it out. For example, if your goal is to increase revenue, and your strategy is reducing manufacturing costs, a short-term tactic could be updating the packaging on a product so it's cheaper.
Video: What is Strategic Planning, Really?
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