How to Put a Strategic Plan Together

A Strategic Plan is a roadmap into the future. It describes the processes that a business will follow in order to achieve its goals. The document breaks these up into detailed phases, and describes how each individual member will contribute towards the program. Every business needs strategic planning in order to be able to outdo its competition. This is how to go about designing one in straightforward terms.

o The plan needs to be both simple and internally consistent. Key elements include employing people who underwrite it, and having short-term focus points and interim strategies that target the overall long-term goal.

o Although as business owner or business manager you may already have the goals in mind that you believe are appropriate to your business, it is vital to hold a planning session that involves key staff. Here is where you express your vision, listen to your people and together refine the plan. Having key contributors on board at this early stage is half the battle won.

o Take customer and employee feedback seriously. Between these thoughts, you will find rough diamonds. When polished, these could show you exactly how your business needs to evolve, and where to focus on, in the detail of your Strategic Plan.

o Begin by agreeing an overarching goal. This core purpose must be measurable, like “Last year our total sales were ₤4, 75 million. This year they will total ₤6, 25 million. Without measurability like this, an overarching statement remains vacuous – one could no more measure the current situation than describe the goal.

o Next, ask each key contributor to indicate how he or she could contribute towards this core objective. Without going into any detail they could say:

SALES will target the following sectors to achieve new sales

PURCHASING will negotiate more consignment stock

ACCOUNTING will appoint an additional creditors / debtors clerk

STORES will install more racking

DELIVERIES will develop improved routing plans.

When each role-player has cascaded the same process down through their own segment of the organization, they will be able to draw up mini strategic plans themselves. A second high-level meeting will check these for inter- and intra-consistency. Following adaption where necessary, a simple internally consistent strategic program will emerge that everybody understands, and that everybody supports too.

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