What is a strategic plan

A strategic plan is a document that describes the goals, objectives and strategies of an organization. It can be used to guide organizational operations and decision making.

Preparing a strategic plan is an essential but not an easy task, especially if you are an entrepreneur or business owner of a small and medium business. There is no single methodology on how to create a strategic plan. It will vary depending on the specific industry, business model, and goals of your organization.

However, there are a number of steps you can take to develop a good strategic plan. These steps include conducting a situation analysis, setting goals and objectives, developing strategies, and creating an action plan:

Brainstorming concept, Sticky Notes on gray wall.

Step 1. Define (or revise) your company’s vision, mission, and values.

Many times we forget this first reflection and immediately go on to establish objectives and projects. Your company vision should be a long-term statement that describes what you hope to achieve, while your mission should be a more concise statement that describes what you do and why you do it. Values ​​should be the guiding principles that inform everything you do as a company.

Building the house forgetting the foundations is a mistake that is paid dearly at the first inclemency that arises. Mission, vision and values ​​are the foundation of your strategic plan.

Step 2. Do a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis is a useful tool that you can use to identify your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Keep in mind that the difference between strengths and opportunities and weaknesses and threats is, fundamentally, that the former come from within your organization and the latter from outside.

This information can be used to inform the overall strategic direction of Your company. Obviously, it must be aligned with what was defined in step 1.

Step 3. Set clear goals and objectives.

Your business goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Once you have set goals, you can develop specific objectives that will help you achieve them.

So that you can have a certain methodology in this step, I advise you to first set three or four goals. Try to make them ambitious and avoid adjusting them too quantitatively (the indicators correspond to the objectives). Once you have done so, you will be able to assign three or four objectives to each goal, establishing measurement criteria and the levels of achievement of each one of them.

Step 4. Develop strategies to reach your goals.

The strategies of your company must be aligned with the goals and objectives. You will need to consider what actions you need to take to achieve the desired results. Many times these strategies correspond to projects that you must undertake if you want to achieve.

Each of these strategic lines must have a person in charge and an assigned execution budget. It is not uncommon to be too optimistic and want to develop actions that apply to the goals but that are either financially unaffordable or you do not have the human capital to carry them out.

And do not forget that these strategies are ordered in an implementation plan. In it you should detail how you will put the strategies into action. This plan should include specific timelines, budget information, and assigned responsibilities.

Step 5. Monitor and adjust your plan as needed.

Your strategic plan should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated as needed. Be sure to monitor your progress and make changes as needed to ensure you’re on track to achieve your desired results.

Finally, you should create a dashboard that tracks progress and helps you identify areas for improvement.

The importance of the strategy team

To develop a strategic plan it is important to involve stakeholders in the planning process. As much as you are an entrepreneur or the owner of a small and medium business, you cannot do it alone, it is not advisable. With the strategy team, you ensure that the plan is relevant and responds to the needs of those it will affect. Additionally, involving stakeholders in the planning process can help build buy-in and commitment to the plan and its implementation. These stakeholders can be partners and employees but also customers or suppliers.

There are several ways to engage stakeholders in the strategic planning process. One way to do this is to hold a series of meetings or workshops where they can provide input and feedback on the plan. Another way to engage stakeholders is to solicit their input through surveys or questionnaires.

Once stakeholder input has been collected, it is important to analyze and use it to inform the development of the strategic plan. The plan should be designed to address the needs and concerns of stakeholders and to help the organization achieve its goals.

If you want to know some additional guidelines to make the crucial leap from plans to decisions, I advise you to take a look at the now classic McKinsey article, Can strategic planning pay off?