Strategic planning is a crucial business process, and one that should not be undertaken without the right preparation.
As with any major project, you should seek the answers to several key questions before you head into the planning process itself. Only once you've covered all the bases can you commence the project and bring the strategy to life.
What are four questions you should have answered before well before strategy execution?
1. What is our mission?
Every company should have an overarching mission that guides every little process and task within the organisation.
Strategic planning is a good opportunity to refresh everyone in the organisation about the purpose of your business and how this fits in with your strategy. Will your new strategic plan stay in line with the company's mission or veer off track?
2. Who should be involved?
In an increasingly transparent business world, it makes sense to have all the relevant people involved in strategic planning.
Don't limit the planning process to senior management or to a specific department – use the latest strategy mapping software to get everyone on board and contributing to the strategy.
3. How are we doing relative to competitors?
Business does not operate in a vacuum – measuring your company's progress means little if you are not using the performance of your competitors as a yardstick.
You should always incorporate an external market analysis as part of your business's strategic planning. This will allow you to compare your company with others in the industry and see how it is performing from an objective point of view.
4. Where are we now and where do we want to be?
Although analysing the current situation is of course important, strategic planning is essentially a roadmap for the future.
Define a strategic timeframe, be it one, five or ten years, and outline where you want the business to be at each milestone.