Strategic management and strategic planning are two very broad terms that may leave you a little lost and wondering whether it’s something that’s necessary to be implemented in your business. You may think that strategic management is just planning for the future, and identifying opportunities for growth in your chosen market. When in reality, it is so much more than that.
Having a strategic business policy can be broken down into two major parts, the first being strategic planning. Looking internally at your company and performing an analysis on your current performance and forming a plan for the future. The second part is strategic management which is actioning upon your strategic plans.
Keep in mind as well, that all plans should be living documents. Implementing strategy is not just a one-time thing and you will be continuously updating your plan as your business grows and consumer needs change. Strategy also takes time. Be aware of the risks that cutting corners brings and that skipping over anything could cause disaster down the line.
Below is a basic breakdown of the steps you need to take when implementing a strategic plan. This is not definitive, nor is it in-depth, and it is highly recommended that you hire a strategic manager before starting on anything on this list.
Assess Your Company
Assess what your company is at its core. What is your vision statement? As a refresher, your vision statement is your company’s long-term goals for the future. You also need to understand your mission statement, which describes what your company does in the present. What problem is your service fixing right now? You also need to have a clear understanding of your company’s core values.
You need to clearly outline your company’s yearly objectives and define your targets. In other words, how is your company doing right now, and does everyone within the company understand your vision, mission, values and targets? All these things need to be clearly laid out and everyone needs to be on the same page as to what they are.
SWOT and TOWS Analysis
The next step is to do an internal analysis of the company’s performance. This is known as a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis is most effectively done when in a group. So have a meeting with people from different levels and different departments and encourage everyone to brainstorm together. Be as honest as possible.
Compare and contrast everyone’s thoughts and put together a list under each of the four categories. Keep in mind that all points should be specific and should help lead towards actionable planning. Your points should also focus on things that set you apart from your competitors, not things that you have in common with them. Avoid being too vague or too grandiose in your analysis.
Now, you’re going to do a TOWS analysis, which is just SWOT backwards. This is an external analysis of your company’s competitors. This should include market analysis, research and business analysis.
Build Your Plan and Balanced Scorecard
After looking at your company internally and analyzing your competitors, what have you identified as next steps for your company? Your two analyses should have given you some clear ideas as to where your company needs to go from here. Now it’s time to put together a plan. Outline your goals and establish the steps you need to take in order to reach your goals.
From this, you should be able to build your Balanced Scorecard. Your scorecard outlines the metrics and targets in your plan and ensures that all goals are being met on time. It outlines the day-to-day tasks that need to be completed, as well as your finances and any other data required.
Your plan and scorecard should be shared throughout the organization so everyone has a clear understanding of the part they play in the implementation of the plan.
Now it’s time to act on your strategy. This is where a strategic manager shines since they are the guardian of the scorecard. They are the one actioning the plan and coordinating all those involved to ensure that the steps outlined in the plan are being completed effectively.
Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer