Developing a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is used to develop decisions and actions that help shape and guide what an organization becomes. Strategic planning requires exhaustive information gathering. It also involves an exploration of alternatives as well as putting much emphasis on the future effects or consequences of present decisions. Senior managers usually engage chiefly in strategic or long range planning and it is essential to have this ability in order to become effective at their position.

Strategic planning helps formulate the objectives that tries to achieve the purpose of an organization. It helps develop strategies that organizations follow in order to remain more competitive in the future. Through strategic planning, managers try to clarify the mission of the organization and set goals that it follows.

Every organization works to achieve a certain goal or mission. It is part of the strategic planning process to develop and analyze an organization’s mission and overall goals in order to formulate general strategies and allocate the resources needed to achieve them.

Strategic planning provides the road map which become the ends that an organization strives to attain. Strategic planning can be a very exhaustive process, making use of a wide range of factors that are put together to help managers come out with effective plans to achieve goals.

The strategic planning process makes use of a scientific approach to problem solving. It usually consists of a logical and orderly series of steps in order to come up with the general strategies where all other plans of the organization can be based.

Defining the mission.

A mission is the purpose of why an organization exists. Creating a mission statement that is broad, yet clear, concise and summarizes what the organization does is the first step in the strategic planning process. A mission statement can be just single sentence yet say everything that an organization does and plans to achieve. Having a clear mission can guide employees to work independently and collectively as a group towards a definite goal.

Conduct a situation or SWOT analysis.

A situation or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is important during the strategic planning process. It formulates the assumptions and facts on which a strategic plan will be based on. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses involves the internal evaluation of the organization.

The SWOT analysis begins with an examination of the external environment in order to seek out poosible opportunities and monitor threats.

The SWOT analysis can be used as a measure for future improvement, as well as to gap analysis. Comparing the organization to external benchmarks (the best practices) is used to assess current capabilities.

Benchmarking systematically compares performance measures such as efficiency, effectiveness, or outcomes of an organization against similar measures from other internal or external organizations. This analysis helps uncover best practices that can be adopted for improvement.

Setting goals and objectives.

Strategic goals and objectives are developed to help bring an organization from where it is at present to where it is going to be in the future as defined by the mission. The goals and objectives are made based from the organization’s mission which will then form the basis for the action plans.

Developing tactical and operational strategies.

Tactical plans are created based on the organization’s strategic plan from which operational plans will be based on. These are plans that break down general goals and objectives into more specific tasks or supportive activities comprising the whole. They put an organization’s strategic plans to work.

Monitoring the plan.

A method of monitoring the environment as well as the underlying conditions can help continuously improve the strategic planning process.

Carefully monitoring if a certain strategic plan is working can help managers able to evaluate a current situation to see if a certain plan must be revised or changed altogether. That is the challenge posed to managers because of certain environmental factors undermine every plan made.

Being on the alert for changes enable managers to make more timely decisions and follow a more proactive approach to the organizational planning process. Effective monitoring encourages the use of feedback to help determine if goals and objectives are feasible.

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