How strategic planning benefits your company
Strategy is more than just achieving business goals, it creates clarity, alignment and organization-wide engagement.
We’ve assembled a handful of sample strategic plans, some of which are from our clients, whereas others are just generic examples worth considering for your organization. All of them reflect good general guidelines and structure, which can be incorporated into your own strategy design.
Strategic planning is important to an organization to define values, create a cohesive vision, chart a direction and set goals for future growth. This process begins with setting out a company’s vision and objectives, as well as a SWOT analysis of the current company Strengths, Weaknesses, available Opportunities and possible Threats. Management can then develop, implement and monitor a successful strategy based on the aforementioned analysis.
What Makes a Good Example of a Strategic Plan?
Many companies are looking for help, searching for an example of a strategic plan as a yardstick they can use to compare their own plans. But strategic plans can come in many forms, shapes and sizes; they are not a “one size fits all” document.
There are simple strategic plans that include goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, as well as complex plan structures that include multiple levels and layers.
How developed your plan needs to be depends on several factors, including the level of accountability your are trying to create, the time frame for implementing the plan, and the culture of your organization. In this post, you’ll see an example of a strategic plan that is most common among businesses today.
Strategic Plan Example: Basic Structure
At its most basic, strategic and operational plans contain three levels that serve specific functions. These are listed in inverse order as they appear in a plan, to demonstrate the linkage from bottom-up:
- + Tactics: These are task assignments that must be carried out on an individual basis. These action items comprise the strategies.
- For instance, if you have a client satisfaction strategy that focuses on an annual client event, there are a number of things that must be completed in order for the event to happen. These are the tactics, which include due dates, deliverables, and are assigned to specific people for execution.
- + Strategies: The collection of the tactics need a name, and this name is the strategy. The name of the strategy provides the focus for something specific, and the strategy itself contains the individual tactics. As such, strategies are the broad action-oriented items that we implement to achieve the objectives.
- In this example, the client event strategy is designed to improve overall client satisfaction. We may have additional strategies aimed at improving client satisfaction, and each of these other strategies will have a collection of tactics, too.
- + Objectives: These are quantifiable and measurable targets that answer the questions of how much needs to be done and by when. There is an old adage that you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
- As such, plans without measurable objectives are not plans at all; they are merely task lists. Objectives include baseline performance, targeted performance, and an established date for achieving the objective. Any example of a strategic plan must include objectives tailored to each department, as they are the foundation for planning.
- In this example, our objective is to increase client satisfaction from 82% to 90% by December 31, 2017. How we accomplish that is the business of strategies and tactics.
Think Big With Vision Planning
Vision planning is the basic template for a strategic plan. A vision plan is more broad-based and can be implemented by companies new to the strategic planning process.
Vision planning closely mirrors a standard business goal-setting process: A company creates a vision statement, sets overall objectives, performs a strategic assessments such as a SWOT analysis, lists stated goals, implements a plan to reach the goals and then regularly monitors the goals long the way.
The vision planning process yields to a longer term focus, aligning goals and specific planning to time frames that are often years into the future.
Narrow the Focus With Scenario Planning
Scenario planning relies heavily on a SWOT analysis to determine opportunities and threats and develops strategic plans based on the most probable occurrences. For example, if a company has a strategic vision to develop products to market internationally, the company would set the objective to develop plans for entering a specific overseas market. You can find lots of free SWOT templates in Excel and PPT formats online, check the link for some examples.
After a SWOT analysis, the company chooses a specific country but finds that several competitors with similar products have entered that market recently. The company then develops plans to challenge the competitors, researching aggressive marketing efforts in order to introduce a new product that could challenge competitors successfully.
In scenario planning, the vision and objectives narrow in focus to address the most pressing threats or the most promising opportunities.
Any organization, whether it is a small business, a nonprofit or a huge multinational company, that aims for long-term success must have a solid business strategy and a coherent action plan.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are many different types and formats of strategic plans, and one of the most important factors for its success is choosing the correct one for you. Some companies prefer the one-page approach and others don’t adhere to specific approaches other than perhaps implementing a basic structure like the ones above. Either way, remember that creating a strategic plan is only the beginning; the hard part is executing it.