Strategic Plans are more than just a plan of action. Strategic Planning is a continuous process that requires input from all levels of an organization.
Strategic plans can be created by individuals, groups, or most often by organizations with the goal to achieve the desired goals.
However, a plan is just a plan. Without strategy execution, a strategic plan is just a piece of paper with ideas. Strategy Execution is where leaders and organizations step up to complete their initiatives and accomplish their goals.
But strategy execution is HARD. Done effectively, strategy execution is more like change management. It’s mapping the process of getting from where you are to where you want to be.
And for most organizations, this process relies on spreadsheets and manual processes. This process creates challenges like limited visibility, siloed work, poor accountability, and more.
So, what’s a solution to overcome these challenges? Enter strategic planning software.
What is Strategic Planning Software?
Strategic planning software is a tool that can help you create, track, and manage your strategic plans and projects.
It helps you set goals, track progress, collect updates, and adjust your plan as needed. Used effectively, it can also help you share your plan with employees, partners, and the communities you support.
Strategic planning software enables you to better communicate what is happening at your company and it gives everyone in your organization the information they need to make good decisions.
Why is Strategic Planning Software Important?
Strategic planning software enables you to see the big picture, but it also focuses on how each piece of your plan will contribute to achieving company goals.
Your strategic plans are more than just documents. To increase the likelihood of success, they need to be continuously reviewed and updated as needed. As progress continues and priorities change, the strategies should continue to align with the overall company direction.
When everyone on your team is collaborating through a strong strategic planning software and process, it keeps everyone on the same page and makes it easier to track progress.
Leveraged properly, strategic planning software can help overcome some of the previous challenges and:
- Automate the update collection process & streamline efforts
- Increase visibility into how key initiatives are performing
- Connect information across siloed teams and systems
- Create a culture of accountability within your organization
- Improve performance and strategy execution
So, if you’ve made it this far, hopefully, you’re convinced that leveraging strategic planning software can improve your organization’s results. But it’s important to consider all the elements that contribute to effective selection and implementation.
Strategic Plan Template
This five level strategic plan template will help you create a plan that’s built around best practices for optimized execution.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Strategic Planning Software
When looking into acquiring strategic planning software you can easily find yourself quickly overwhelmed.
There’s an abundance of choices, features, functionalities, and, of course, price points to consider. Your shortlist will dramatically grow as you investigate potential partners.
I say partner quite deliberately. This is perhaps the most important quality to consider as you evaluate your options.
You should be looking for a robust solution, of course, but one that is accompanied by a robust customer success team (and services) to ensure you have a well-rounded solution. The success of your implementation is tethered to your partner of choice, and they are tethered to the long-term success of your organization.
Be sure to choose a provider that plans to partner with you.
Once you’ve established organizations and products that can provide a true partnership here are a few focus areas to ensure your software includes.
- Ensure alignment
- Create accountability
- Enhance visibility
- Enable flexibility across the organization
Your Process and Software Should Center Around Alignment
The software should center around alignment. One of the biggest mistakes I see organizations make is to not center their forward-looking plans around a central hierarchy.
Your provider of choice should deliver a solution that drives alignment when it is required. But it also should be flexible enough to handle one-off projects that may not fit perfectly into an organizational-wide hierarchy. This keeps your plans consistent and your teams speaking the same language.
A Software Should Establish a Cadence of Accountability
Ensure your provider can establish a customized cadence of accountability. It would be great to live in a dream world where users make their updates on time without being asked. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Users need to have a streamlined way to make updates to their strategic plans. And you as a leader need to be able to quickly understand where updates are late. Not only does this drive adoption but, more importantly, it ensures your information is up to date.
Lastly, the software should be able to handle different cadences for different plans. A strategic plan likely will not need to be updated as often as an operational plan or project.
Enable Visibility with Custom Dashboards
You need custom dashboards that deliver the right information to the right places at the right time. Too often I speak with groups used to referencing “the dashboard” or “the report”. But that’s likely the wrong way to look at it.
Each team, meeting, or company gathering may require a unique set of information. You need the capability to quickly build and deliver customized reports that keep your team focused on what is most important.
Your Process Should Enable Flexibility Across the Organization
While many conversations around strategic planning relate to a single strategic plan, it’s likely not the ONLY plan your organization is working on. Strategic initiatives, operational plans, key programs, and project plans are only a few of the items likely being tracked across your organization.
Too often organizations focus their process and software decisions around a SINGLE plan, without considering how to track everything else in their organization. And more importantly, how these plans connect across the organization.
When implementing a new solution, ensure you select a platform that enables tracking plans of different types AND viewing progress across all your plans in the organization.
Selecting Your Strategic Planning Software
While there are many considerations in creating an effective strategic plan, it’s equally important to focus on execution. And selecting the proper strategic planning software is a key decision in that process.
When selecting a strategic planning software, it is important to consider the key features that will be most beneficial to your organization. Strategic planning software should enable the alignment of plans, establish accountability, and provide visibility into plan progress. Lastly, the software should be flexible enough to accommodate different types of plans and be used across the organization.
In reality, this list is the tip of the iceberg, but it highlights some of the most important requirements for you to consider as you evaluate potential options. Keep in mind, you’re selecting a partner as much as your evaluating a software solution.
Not sure what system is right for you? Request a demo or a proof of concept for your organization. On the call, we can discuss the pros and cons of various systems to ensure you select the best choice for your organization.
AchieveIt is the platform that organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. There are so many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line because there’s no real way to keep everyone on track. You’ve got to:
- Get everything in view in real-time
- Get everyone engaged while also holding them accountable
- Get every possible advantage drawing on the experience and best practices of our execution experts
Ready to improve your plan execution?
Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to connect, manage, and execute their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.