Strategic planning is an organizational management activity. It defines what an organization is from the get-go, what it does, why it does it, and who it serves. The focus is always looking ahead to the future. Strategic planning establishes the groundwork for the way a business defines everything it does moving forward. It affects everything about the way the company makes decisions, including how resources are allocated, priorities are established, agreements are made, and training manuals are written. Since it serves as the base of all decisions, there is nothing more important than defining a clear plan for what your business is really about before investing time and money into it.
The process of strategic planning is a multi-step one. The first step involves analysis or assessment of the corporation. This is done to gain a full understanding of both the internal and external environments of the business. After this step, a strategy is formed along with an organizational structure documenting how the business shall proceed. The next step is to translate the directives into a functioning operational schema of everybody’s roles and priorities. The final step in development is the evaluative sustainment phase, which allows for refinement and tweaks based on changes in communication, metrics, or other concerns. While it is important to be very clear at the beginning of a strategic plan, it’s just as important to be flexible in the maintenance of one.
It cannot be stressed enough that a strategic plan is vital for any company planning on long-term goals like expansion. Contrary to popular belief, strategic plans are different than business plans, which is about the short-term goals of a company. Strategy means taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture and how you see your company years from now. It also puts you in a different frame of mind. Once you make the decision to expand a business, you must also take into account the risks that accompany that decision. These must all be included in the plan. In addition, the larger and more complex your business becomes, the more strategic your planning should be as it adapts to new responsibilities. This includes more due diligence about your market and competition, as well as current and future demographics and how to reach them.