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What is Strategic Planning?
To survive in business, organizations have to make tough decisions and create battle plans for success. The recent economic climate has placed more emphasis on the need for a simple, flexible system for making decisions and creating success. More organizations – both big and small alike – are turning to strategic planning as a solution because of its focus on collaboration and its emphasis on accountability and execution. Before you use the power of strategy development, it is important that you understand what is strategic planning.
Before the planning process begins, administrators who are unclear about the process might be afraid to ask, “What is strategic planning?” A common definition for strategic planning is as follows: “Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment.” [i] Because it sounds daunting, many are intimidated by the vastness of the task. But once you understand what is strategic planning, you will realize that the approach is fairly simple and straightforward.
What is Strategic Planning: Strategic Plan vs. Business Plan
In simpler terms, strategic planning is a tool organizations use to answer three questions:
- What is our purpose? (Mission)
- What do we want to achieve? (Vision)
- How are we going to get there? (Plan)
Organizers can use vision- or goal-based planning to articulate their strategy, or develop an action plan based on the specific issues facing the company, and goals they’d like to achieve in the long-term. No matter which way an organization decides to go about it, the actual plan should be a written document with concrete actions the organization needs to take in order to achieve the desired results. This is the simplest approach to answering the question, “What is strategic planning?”
In understanding what is strategic planning, it is important to make the distinction between a strategic plan and a business plan. A strategic plan should look further into the future and be more about the vision of the company rather than the quarterly figures. The simplest of strategic plans includes a set of statements describing the purpose and values for the company, along with a set of statements on how to achieve targets the organization has set. [ii] To ensure that real, meaningful business results are achieved through your plan, always make sure that you include measurable and quantifiable objectives. These objectives provide you with a way to measure progress through the plan implementation and execution phase.
What is Strategic Planning: Execution Management
Some executives consider drafting the plan to be the difficult part, when, in actuality, the implementation of the plan is the most arduous task. Once you’ve answered the question – “What is strategic planning?” – your next question needs to be, “How are we going to execute and manage this plan?”
Many successful organizations have adopted the Execution Flywheel approach to execution management, because of its emphasis on accountability and transparency. The Execution Flywheel includes monitoring and tracking tools such as robust scorecards, dashboards, and electronic reminders and alerts. This approach also ascribes that every plan objective, strategy, and tactic is assigned to individual owners with firm due dates and clear deliverables. By not allowing people to share plan assignments, you elevate accountability and accelerate the results curve.
How AchieveIt Answers the Question, What is Strategic Planning?
AchieveIt’s cloud-based software is the ideal technology for answering the question, what is strategic planning, as it enables organizations to manage and track the execution of every type of plan in real-time – whether strategic plans, operational plans, project plans, or quality improvement plans. This best-of-breed software guides you through AchieveIt’s proven Execution Flywheel that has generated breakthrough results for clients. It contains a full suite of tools that shortens the planning cycle, enables strategic decision-making, and powers accountability and execution. No other cloud-based application guides you through the entire strategy development and execution management life cycle with such focused precision.
Learn how to hardwire strategy and execution into your organization through the use of strategic planning software, strategy development software, business execution software, or quality management software.