A strategic planning framework is essential in any industry. For example, strategic planning in healthcare is essential to improving patient care quality.
That said, what is strategic planning? Simply put, strategic planning is the business practice of creating a long-term plan that will achieve an ideal set of goals for a profit-making organization. This is the most commonly accepted strategic planning definition.
Benefits of Strategic Planning
Asking “what is strategic planning?” and “what is the strategic planning process?” helps answer essential questions about your organization. Moreover, strategic planning allows you to have a defined roadmap towards a clear set of goals.
Strategic Planning Misconceptions
"I already have a business plan!"
Strategic plans are not business plans. Instead, a business plan is a medium-term executional business document. Business plans at their longest only span 1 year and include action items that are executed in the course of business quarters. Strategic plans are far longer in scope (up to 15 years).
“Strategic plans are only for large businesses.”
Strategic plans are for every business, including small ones. In the beginning, the strategic plan will focus on research and high-level discussions. As your business progresses this will be replaced by a long-term analysis of business outcomes.
“Strategic plans are only needed once.”
This is absolutely not true. Strategic plans should be updated every two to three years, incorporating new learnings and the results of business actions as part of the analysis.
What Makes Strategic Planning Successful?
Several factors go into creating a successful business strategic plan. These include:
Collaboration and inclusion in the process
The strategic plan and roadmap should include all levels of management, all employees, and outside stakeholders in a planned manner.
Data, not feelings
Topics and decisions must be based on objective, verified data, gathered from inside and outside the organization.
Everyone involved owns the process (shared responsibility and expectations)
When the strategic plan is created, everyone involved should be held responsible for the accuracy and thoroughness of their own piece and held to the same overall timeline and schedules.
Transparency in communications
This is the other side of the shared responsibility point. Everyone involved must be honest in their opinion and share all data requested.
Looking beyond the strategic business plan
Implementation of a strategic plan is an ongoing process, and ideally, the strategic plan should be renewed once every two to three years.
Buy-in from management
All of this is meaningless if management does not set aside a budget and does not commit to the changes set forth in the strategic plan.
Where do Strategic Plans Go Wrong?
What is strategic planning failure?
Generally, not following through on the above points will cause a strategic plan to go awry. Inaction on behalf of the C-suite and lack of buy-in can stall a strategic plan.
The strategic planning process explained
Here are five steps that can help you outline your strategic planning process:
Determine your vision and mission
Perform a gap analysis
Determine goals, create a strategic plan template, and map
Monitor progress and refresh
A Strategic Plan Example
This is, of course, an outline. But a strategic plan may look like this:
Dynamo Toys, a company specializing in classic robot toys and figurines, is losing sales over each quarter. Management has decided that it’s time to create a strategic plan for the next 10 years.
This plan includes:
An overview of Dynamo Toy’s vision and mission statements, which include making the most fun toys for children and collectors of the giant robot genre.
A strategic overview of the market (which includes demographic information for Dynamo Toys and its market segments), a SWOT analysis, and a large scale overview of current economic conditions and suppliers.
A gap analysis, which identifies the gaps between where Dynamo is currently and where it wants to be.
Finally, a strategic map, which illustrates how Dynamo will shift from its current position to its defined goals. This includes the various long-term tactics and plans that will be employed. In the case of Dynamo, it talks about how to market to new segments and to strengthen old ones, how to counter competitor moves, what media franchising partnerships to pursue, and how to market to a new generation of kids who have grown up on mobile. This will be included in the entire strategic plan. The steps detailed will be conducted in accordance with Dynamo’s vision and mission statements.
Strategic Planning for Higher Education
Colleges and universities regularly create strategic plans to keep pace with student, market, and economic demands. Strategic planning in higher education is a multi-faceted process where institutional leaders and representatives gather together and visualize a better future for their college or university.
Some institutions us a strategic planning template or framework created in a spreadsheet, however, these strategic plan templates are often difficult to adapt to changing conditions or scenarios.
Synario offers a dynamic solution to the higher education strategic planning challenge. Synario offers financial modeling intelligence that enables higher education finance leaders to create agile strategic plans, making it the go-to strategic planning software for higher education.
To learn more about how Synario helps colleges and universities across the U.S build, analyze, and present their strategic plans, check out this page on Strategic Planning in Higher Education.
Synario Can Help You with Strategic Planning
Synario’s suite of intelligent financial modeling software can help you craft a strategic plan that can help your company navigate the shifting seas of business. We’d love to discuss challenges involved in strategic planning and actionable solutions. Contact us today to learn more.