Strategic Planning is an organizational tool that is used by groups and corporations globally to refine their goals and maximize their resources. Drawing from the concepts of strategic military planning, the strategic planning process is one way in which businesses strive to attain a competitive edge. Strategic planning involves defining goals, creating an adaptable business plan and measuring core competencies of staff to increase productivity and results. The understanding and implementation of strategic planning can significantly affect a company's ability to maximize revenue and growth. The process has been used effectively in many fields of business, education, and government to formulate productive business systems and resource management solutions.
While there are several different approaches to implementing a strategic planning process, most models use the following definitions:
- Mission definition: The mission definition stage of strategic planning encourages an organization to develop a brief description of the purpose to inform potential stockholders, employees, and customers what they can expect from the company. From the mission definition, a mission statement can be developed that serves as a company's calling card and core focus description.
- Vision/Trend Analysis: The next facet of strategic planning directs a company to analyze current market trends and make committed decisions about where the business is heading. Defining long-term goals and visualizing the future of the organization can help to focus on current activities and important financial decisions.
- Strategic Objectives: Once long term goals have been set, the strategic objectives phase consists of formulating actual business plans to achieve the visualized goals. One acronym used frequently in this stage of strategic planning is SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time frame assessed. Ensuring all objectives meet the SMART criteria improves increases the odds of goal achievement.
- Critical Success Factors: Important milestones and achievements key to goal realization should be identified at the critical success factor stage of strategic planning. Singling out these factors provides an easy means for measuring the ongoing success of the business plan.
- Actions to be implemented: After critical success factors have been identified, the next phase involves the development of action plans need to realize success. Specific tasks and management strategies are designed to effectively implement the business plan. Task management is often defined by the core competencies required for each position in the company.
- Performance Analysis and Progress Measurement: The last of the most common steps is comprised of formulating methods by which to measure the organization's progress. Comprehensive performance analysis tools and measurement criteria are developed to effectively monitor the success of the current system. These tools can be used to report both internally and externally on the progress and growth of the company.
Creating a defined strategic plan will maximize the use of resources to achieve organizational success and sustainability.