Strategic planning is a management activity often used by businesses to better focus their energy, establish priorities, and strengthen operations to achieve targeted goals. Employers, employees, and stakeholders in a company all play a pivotal role in the strategic planning process. While there is no particular timeline that a strategic plan must follow, most organizations strive to look forward two to three years in the future, while others create a fresh plan annually. Learn more about the strategic planning process and how qualified benefits consultants can help you get started with your plan.
What is the Strategic Planning Process?
Strategic planning can be a vital tool for a business as it provides companies with measurable objectives that aid in daily decision-making. This planning process helps prevent companies from aimlessly performing business tasks without set priorities or a real purpose. Without a clear vision in mind for the future, employers may make wrong decisions for their business and employees may be confused about their position in the company. A strategic planning process is designed to drive businesses in the right direction and promote the exchange of useful ideas between people with similar goals.
The strategic planning process is essentially a list of steps that managers should follow to complete and implement a strategy within a company. There are several key components that make up the strategic planning process, including common phases like strategic analysis and strategy formulation, along with implementation and monitoring. Although the strategic planning process requires great patience and can be a challenging undertaking, most businesses can agree that the process can yield highly rewarding results. Here is a closer look at the individual stages of the strategic planning process and how they affect your business.
1. Identify Your Strategic Position
The first stage prepares you for the rest of the strategic planning process. To achieve your goals, you must first have a clear vision. Start by defining both your short-term and long-term objectives. In short, what do you hope to achieve? Next, determine what steps you will take to accomplish these objectives. When identifying your strategic position, remember that your goals should be realistic and measurable. For help with this step, look back to your mission statement, corporate values, and work culture.
2. Gather People and Information
Once you have established your strategic position, you will want to bring in the people who will be involved in the planning process. You will also want to bring in as much up-to-date information to the table as possible. Ensure that any data you use is accurate so that you make informed decisions backed up by facts. Once you have people and information to draw from, examine any internal or external issues that could possibly affect your objectives. It may be useful to ask other people in your business for their input, such as employees, customers, or partners.
3. Perform a SWOT Analysis
SWOT, which is an acronym for strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats, acts as a powerful tool during the strategic planning process. A SWOT analysis is often performed to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of a business, as well as identify any opportunities and threats that could arise. Once the team has identified all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can work together to develop new goals that will help your business face these possibilities in a more positive way. A SWOT analysis can also lead you in the right direction and towards your goals.
4. Formulate a Strategic Plan
Once you have successfully identified your strategic position and have a set of goals that align with your company’s mission, you can begin working on your strategic plan. When developing your plan, consider which initiatives will have the greatest impact on your business and which will help improve your position the most. Also consider which initiatives are most urgent and put these at the front of the line. To ensure that your strategic plan is working, you will need to determine the best way to measure your progress. With measurable goals you can visibly see improvements as they happen.
5. Execute Your Strategic Plan
Once you have your strategic plan in place, you are ready to implement it. This step is the action phase of the strategic planning process. Start by making everyone involved in the plan aware of your strategy. Ideally, you want to distribute tasks among different individuals or departments to prevent one person or group of people from becoming overwhelmed. Also take the time to check back with these individuals or groups to ensure that you are staying on track. If you find that you are not meeting your objectives, make any necessary changes.
6. Constantly Monitor Performance
Your strategic planning process will not be effective unless everyone is doing their part. This requires you to constantly monitor and manage performance and tweak any components that are not leading to satisfactory results. It is also important to hold those involved in the strategic planning process accountable for their assigned tasks. Know that it may be necessary to repeat the strategic management process if any corrective actions you take are not successful. Continue to collect new and relevant data to help with any future strategic planning that may occur.
Learn More About Strategic Planning
Successful businesses have a plan in place and know where they are heading in the future. If you are not yet one of these businesses, you can be. The strategic planning process is specifically designed to lay out your company’s goals and define why they are important. Strategic planning can also help you uncover ways to improve performance in the workplace and meet your unique objectives. It is the ultimate way to help your business reach its full potential. Best of all, your strategic plan can be continuously altered to meet your new and changing needs. For more information about the strategic planning process, speak to the benefits consultants at BBG today.