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Business Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is a process which looks at your present and future organization and environment and considers three key questions:
  • Where are we today?
  • Where do we want to be? When will we get to what we want to be?
  • How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be?
Today, most managers are so busy focusing on fighting "brush fires" they do not realize that they have missed business opportunities. Strategic planing forces management's attention away from daily tasks and refocuses it on the longer term issues and opportunities.

An organization's strategic plan is not a document developed by one visionary. Rather, it is a comprehensive set of documents that reflect the thoughts and beliefs of the senior management team which has representation from every part of the organization. This "planning team" is responsible for answering the three main strategic planning questions. The following definitions will help us all: In our strategic planning framework we are using the following definitions: Mission: Reason for being; purpose. Goal: On-going behavioral target related to the mission. Objective: Measurable step supporting a goal. Achieving an objective consumes resources. Strategy: The approach chosen to achieve an objective; the set of activities or projects designed to achieve the objective. Tactic: An activity or project that supports a strategy. Task: A discrete, measurable step that is part of a tactic.

Where are we today?

The first deliverable of the planning team will be four lists. One addressing each of the following areas:
  • Internal Strengths - what are the characteristics of the organization which place it at a significant competitive advantage e.g. research department, lowest cost producer of product.
  • Internal Weaknesses - what are the characteristics of your orgnanization which place it at a significant disadvantage e.g. high employee turn over, aging senior management, aging equipment.
  • External Opportunities - what opportunities factors which you might choose to pursue e.g. outsource non critical business functions, horizontal diversification , form strategic alliance.
  • External Threats - factors that threaten your firm with harm. e.g. sales to 1 large client accounts for 70% of sales, patent expiring, new competitor entering market place, low cost foreign produced goods entering market

Where do we want to be and when?

The question, "Where do we want to be? When will we get to what we want to be?" leads to the development of your organizatoin's mission statement, goals and objectives.

The mission statement is a broad statement of the purpose of the organization. It provides overall direction to the organization by establishing the scope of the organization's activities. A mission statement should be no longer than two sentences.
The mission statement provides the framework of "playing field" and justification for the organization's goals and objectives.

Goals are high level statements that provide overall context for what the organization is trying to achieve.

Objectives relate to a specific goal (you can have several objectives supporting each goal). Objective statements should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART). For example: a financial objective might set an annual minimum level of net profit or return on investment. A marketing objective might call for an annual specific sales level, sales growth rate, or market share. An operating objective might measure improvement in productivity or efficiency year over year.

How do we get from here to there?

Knowing "where we are today?" and "Where do we want to be? When will we get to what we want to be?," the planning team now assembles a set of strategies to address "how do we get from here to there?". For each objective identified, a strategy or road map must be developed which demonstrates how the organization will evolve from the status quo to the target situation. These strategies must factor in the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities as they will play a key role in meeting the objectives.