Strategic planning is a management tool that can be used to initially focus or re-focus a business or organization. It is a process that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment or forecast.
Below are elements of the strategic planning process.
A situation analysis is a concept of business planning that involves a thorough review of the internal and external environment to provide a foundation for businesses to determine their goals and objectives. The collection of this data is used as an input into a SWOT analysis–the consideration of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the business faces.
Alignment is a critical concept of business planning. Every business should have a clearly defined explanation for why it exists, what it offers and who it serves; a mission and vision. Values provide an indication of the company’s beliefs in terms of how it operates. In business planning, goals and objectives should be aligned with the mission, vision and values of an organization.
Clearly Defined Goals and Objectives
Clear goals and objectives in business planning ensure that everyone involved in implementing the plan know what they are attempting to achieve. In addition, clear goals and objectives provide an indication of the resources that will be necessary for success. The basis for implementation of the plan and measurement of plan progress lies in measurable goals and objectives.
Focused Strategies and Tactics
This is where your SWOT, the analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business, will give you clearly defined information to plan. What goals and objectives have you established? Your strategies and tactics should be designed to achieve these. Strategies are broad and are designed to either capitalize on your strengths and weaknesses or overcome your weaknesses and threats.
It is important to detect trends in relation to the market environment in which your business operates, detecting the motivating causes of past, current or forecasted situations. This type of data has the ability to influence one or more critical success factors positively or negatively for your business.
Planning with the end in mind, this is strategic planning in a nutshell. It is essential for any business to thrive. Taking the time to go through the process initially will set the expectations and standards for your operation and allow you to tackle goals and obstacles with a plan in mind.