This is the time of year that many businesses focus on strategic planning for the year ahead. And why? For starters, a number of quantifiable studies have validated that a comprehensive strategic plan effects quality performance in heightened operating ratios, increased market share and an excellent return on investment.
Strategic planning also helps you accomplish the following:
- Review business objectives, and the means required to achieve those objectives;
- Setting priorities;
- Determining organizational focus;
- Strengthening operations; and
- Goal setting.
We want you to be successful in your strategic planning efforts, which is why we’re sharing our best tips and guidelines!
Set Yourself Up For Success: How To Create Your Strategic Plan
There are five critical elements that should be implemented when setting your strategic plan.
- Where are you? Before you can successfully put a strategic plan on paper, you must determine where your organization currently stands. It’s not uncommon for people to view themselves how they want to see themselves, versus how they actually appear.
- What’s most important? Where do you want to take your organization over time? Narrow in on that, and then you’re able to determine the direction you want to take your organization, as well as clearly define the mission and vision for your organization.
- What must you achieve? Clearly define your organization’s objectives, and what is required to achieve those objectives. The more you can hone in on your priority issues, the better off your plan will be.
- Who is accountable? Here’s the bottom line: by defining who is accountable, this will allow you to get to where you want to go. Your strategy, action plan and budget are all important steps, and will help you clearly communicate how you will allocate the time, resources and budget needed to achieve your defined objectives. If you don’t assign someone responsible for the tasks, it won’t get accomplished.
- Review, review, and then review some more. Once you have your plan on paper, this process does not end. We recommend revisiting your plan at least once a quarter to ensure your plan is performing as you had designed it to do. Reviewing your strategic plan also allows you to make edits and tweaks as needed. If you make a change, make sure the change is really required, and not just changed because someone doesn’t have time.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)
To assist in assessing your company in contrast to your competitors and in setting quality strategies, a SWOT analysis (Strengths and Weaknesses, which relate to internal factors, in addition to Opportunities and Threats, which relate to external factors), should be performed. This analysis will depict your internal strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in addition to your external threats. When a SWOT analysis is performed, goals and objectives are established for 1 to 5 years, although some companies will look beyond this timeframe. If a SWOT analysis is not performed, it typically ties to a current plan that covers a period of 3+ year. A SWOT analysis should be performed, however, periodically to ensure strategies are in concert with current strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities with the recognition of current and future threats.
Successful strategic planning doesn’t happen overnight. This process takes time, but we can assure you that if you put in the effort you will absolutely see results.
Have a question when it comes to strategic planning? Need some assistance? We would love to help you! Send us an email, and let’s get started.