Strategic planning involves developing a vision for the company’s future, identifying goals and objectives related to that vision, and developing an actionable plan to achieve those objectives. The importance of strategic planning cannot be overemphasized – it puts everyone on the same page and provides them with a plan to follow to facilitate the company’s goals. In this article, we give a step-by-step overview of how the strategic planning process works and what are the benefits of strategic planning.
How strategic planning works
The strategic planning process differs considerably from the project planning process. It envisions the company’s future, so it should be thorough to ensure that the strategic plan covers every detail, regardless of how minute. Here is a brief overview of the five standard steps of strategic planning:
- Determining your strategic position
Knowing where you are is important and necessary before you can determine where to go and how to get there. Essentially, this phase entails setting all your cards on the table, and it sets the foundation for the rest of the process.
You can start by reviewing the company’s vision and mission statements to get an idea of what success looks like. It is also important to consult all internal stakeholders, including the executives and employees, to get a sense of the company’s culture.
Determining your strategic position also entails collecting and analyzing industry and market data, including customer insights. The information gained from this data will help you identify issues that you will need to address in the strategic plan. You will also need to conduct a comprehensive SWOT or PEST analysis to identify your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Determining & prioritizing your objectives & goals
A strategic plan should highlight all of your goals and objectives. Different objectives will help you achieve different goals, so it is important to determine and prioritize the objectives that will help you attain your biggest and most strategic goals first.
Identifying your most urgent initiatives and determining what you need to accomplish your goals is the best way to identify and prioritize your objectives. It is important to make the objectives clear, distinct from each other, and measurable.
- Developing a plan
Developing a plan is the most important step of the strategic planning process. An inefficient plan will not work and can cost the company considerable time, money and other resources.
Developing a plan entails determining solutions to achieve your objectives. These solutions should be clear, practical and measurable tactics that the company can undertake with ease. The plan should also include a timeline of when you intend to reach various milestones and highlight everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
- Executing & managing the plan
Your strategic plan should be practical, and it is advisable to adopt and implement it as soon as possible. Executing the plan entails communicating the strategy to all concerned stakeholders, including employees and integrating it into the company’s broader strategy. Communication is the most important aspect of executing and managing a strategic plan.
- Reviewing & revising the plan
Strategic plans aren’t always perfect, and they should be flexible considering all the variable factors involved. This is why it is important to research the strategic planning process with examples and review and revise your plan regularly. It is worth noting that revising the plan can entail making major changes, such as prioritizing new objectives or developing new tactics.
Practice makes perfect
The strategic planning process can be complex. However, it becomes easy when you know what you are working with. It is advisable to consider reviewing different strategic planning examples and try practicing developing your own plan to familiarize yourself with the process. Remember, the plan will determine your company’s future and success, so it should be foolproof.