The business world is getting fiercely competitive and to maintain the competitive edge, relying only on forecast-based or budget based planning methods isn’t enough. The need of the hour is engaging in strategic planning where the objectives are clearly defined and strategy is formulated on the basis of the assessment of internal as well as external situations. Strategy formulation is then followed by implementation, evaluation and streamlining the strategy to achieve the goal. Strategic planning begins with defining the desired end and working backwards to the current status to formulate an effective strategy.
Here are the key steps involved in the process of strategic planning:
- Organize Team and Information
As the first step of strategic planning, decide which of employees you want to be involved in the team for planning. Also gather all the necessary information required for the planning. Make sure that the information you use are accurate and up-to-date. Also identify the issues that need attention.
2. Clarify Your Vision and Mission
Your vision is your aspiration that defines where you want your organization or unit to be in future or in the next three to five years. Vision decides the overall direction for the team or unit. It must be inspirational and provide a purpose to everything that your organization is doing. Your mission defines what you do today. Focusing on your mission everyday should lead to your vision.
3. Perform SWOT Analysis
SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. SWOT analysis helps you in identifying your current market position and gives you a clear idea about what should be the focus. With SWOT analysis you can understand the critical issues that your unit is facing and what opportunities you have.
4. Identify Your Priorities
Not only strategic planning, this step is a crucial part of any planning process. Identify and decide what your priorities are. Subsequently, plan a broad strategy to describe how to handle the critical issues and what outcomes are expected. Make sure that all your team members agree on the decided priorities.
5. Formulate the Plan
The next step is about formulating the plan, considering all the information gathered. You can make a detailed document of the plan for better implementation. Documenting will also help you in reviewing the progress on a regular basis.
6. Communicate the Plan
To implement a plan properly, it’s important to communicate it to everyone in your organization. This helps in ensuring that all the employees in your organization are aligned with your plan and are putting efforts in the same direction. It’s not enough to communicate the strategic plan only to the department heads. Make every individual aware of your plan for more focused efforts.
7. Implement the Plan and Assign Tasks
Once you have a well-defined strategic plan and have communicated it to all the departments, start implementing it by taking proper actions and assigning tasks to teams and individuals.
8. Monitor and Streamline
To make your plan effective, you need to ensure that everyone is doing his or her part well. You need to monitor the work constantly and measure the performance through meetings. See if the plan activities are actually being carried out and what corrective actions are required to streamline the process and improve the performances.
Strategic planning helps an organization achieve goals faster and in a better way. Your organization can still work without a strategic plan but the sense of priority and purpose would be missing.