Strategic planning is essentially the creation of a roadmap to success.
Although the strategic planning process varies from one organization to the next, an effective business strategy articulates the course your company will take to achieve its goals and discusses the resources you will leverage along the way.
A common framework for strategic planning is the SWOT technique. The SWOT technique analyzes the company's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and forecasts the processes that will be necessary to achieve targets and objectives. The execution of the strategy may require midstream course corrections, but if it's done right the strategic plan should offer a baseline for business activities and decision-making.
Since there is no set formula for the strategic planning process, you will need to design a planning process that incorporates your company's business culture. Here are several things you'll want to consider before and during the creation of a strategic plan.
- Envision success. Many strategic planning processes fail because they lack a clear vision of success. If a strategic plan is your company's roadmap, your vision of success is the destination. Before you discuss strategy, carefully consider what success will look like so you can construct your strategy around that vision.
- Study strategic concepts. Strategic analysis is a field of study that has produced an abundance of resources. Given the important role your business strategy will play in the future of your company, it's worth familiarizing yourself with proven strategic concepts before launching a strategic planning project.
- Identify working models. Every company has a business strategy, even if it is simply reacting to developments in the marketplace. Some strategies are more effective than others, so it's necessary to evaluate other companies' business strategies and determine whether they are applicable to your business.
- Define and document your strategy. A good strategic planning process should result in a clearly defined strategy that is documented and communicated throughout the organization. Buy-in is essential; you'll want to make sure everyone has had a chance to weigh in on their role before you set the strategy in stone.
- Monitor implementation. Until it's implemented, a business strategy is just a document. Careful monitoring and scheduled strategy reviews are needed to assess implementation progress, and to make adjustments based on changing conditions and business realities.