Strategic Planning Software
Have you ever wondered why some companies excel while others never make it off the ground? It all comes down to the strategic business plan that a company chooses to follow, and whether they have a vision and goals that support that plan.
How do they get that strategic plan? Some use strategic planning software. Strategic planning software can help align the vision of a business with a growth strategy. This may sound complicated, but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step to help you gain a better understanding of business strategy and how it can help you attain your goals.
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is the process taken to create a business strategy. It involves the management of priorities, sets a focal point on resources and operations, and makes sure the stakeholders and employees are all on the same page when it comes to your business plan and execution.
There are four primary steps in strategic planning:
- Determining where you stand now
- Developing vision and mission statements that define where you want to go
- Setting short and long-term objectives
- Monitoring performance of your strategic plan
How you carry out each step will likely be unique to your organisation as no one universal method works for every company, but the general outcome of each step should be the same.
What is a Business Strategy?
A business strategy is a long-term plan devised to help your business reach a goal in the future. It includes your goals, objectives, the type of goods and services you will provide for customers, and the markets you intend to profit from.
In other words, a road map from point A (where your business is) to point B (where you want your business to be). A good business strategy will help you make wise investments, improve resources, and make profits that are well above average. All businesses are only as good as their business strategy. Make sure yours aligns with the wants and needs of your intended consumers.
Create Your Own Business Strategy
Step One: Determine Your Current Standing
If you’re ready to practice a bit of strategic planning and create your own business strategy, you’ll want to start by gathering your team and determining where your company stands as is. One of the easiest ways to do this is to perform a S.W.O.T (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment.
Your strengths should be viewed from the perspective of your target market. What does your company offer that no one else can? What unique processes or equipment do you have that no one else does? What makes your company stand out?
Your weaknesses are the aspects of your business that are hurting your bottom line. What’s the most common complaint your customers have? What do your competitors have that you don’t? Are there any areas of your business that aren’t efficient?
Your opportunities are goals you could make to eliminate your weaknesses while increasing your strengths. Is there an untapped market you could take advantage of? Are there any new trends applicable to your product? What can you do to make your operation better?
Finally, your threats are what stands in the way of your opportunities or stands behind your weaknesses. Who’s your biggest competitor? Is there anything wrong internally in your company that’s affecting your productivity? Are there any looming political factors that could threaten your operation?
The value of a S.W.O.T analysis lies in the accuracy of its content. You really want to take a realistic look at your company and draft an honest report. It may even be helpful to use an independent evaluator.
Additionally, some small business software also offer programs to aid in S.W.O.T creation via the inclusion of data directly from your servers and templates, but even so, they can’t guarantee the accuracy of the evaluation you or your team make based on that information.
Step Two: Develop a Vision and Mission Statement
Once you’ve got a firm idea of where your company stands, the next step is to come up with a vision and mission for your company.
Your vision statement outlines the direction that you foresee your business taking in the future—your business’s goals in the short term and long term. You’ll want to ask yourself where you envision your business in the next 5 to 10 years. The opportunities section of your S.W.O.T can be particularly helpful during this process.
Your mission statement is all about who or what your business stands for—what you do and why. Your vision and mission statement are closely related. The main difference is that your vision statement focuses on the direction your company will take in the future, while your mission statement is more in the now.
While your entire staff doesn’t have to be involved in the full strategic planning process, it is a good idea to pull input from your team in this step. Not only does brainstorming often spur a superior pool of ideas but involving all members of your organisation fosters a feeling of belonging and a stronger commitment to both the plan you create and your company. Strong employee involvement is a great way to reduce employee turnover.
Step Three: Set Short and Long-term Objectives
The next step is to begin creating realistic objectives for your company to achieve its vision.
This should involve both short and long-term goals that are broken into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related) mini-goals or tasks.
These small steps towards a greater goal help keep employee morale high, enable better control of the direction of your company, increase the accuracy of your timing estimate for projects, and allow you to track your progress easily.
Step Four: Performance Management
By the end of step three, you now have successfully completed your business strategy, and all you have to do now is ensure you follow it and that it remains pertinent.
It’s important to realise that strategic planning is an ongoing process and your business strategy may evolve as your business does—as it should. One of the most destructive mistakes a company can make is refusing to adapt. A business strategy should be monitored on a constant basis for performance and improvements.
Strategic Planning Software for your Business
As you can imagine, not only is creating a business strategy a huge and important task but maintaining it is a flat-out monstrous endeavour. One way to simplify both tasks is to invest in strategic planning software for your business.
Strategic planning software offers a wealth of tools to streamline strategic planning and the task management that follows. Just a few benefits include:
- Centralisation: The objectives of your business plan will likely include a great deal of moving parts across various platforms including Excel, Powerpoint, your internal file management system, and more. Strategic planning software allows you to move all these pieces to one centralised system increasing productivity and decreasing complications such as multiple logins and lost files.
- Better communication and teamwork: That same centralisation also makes sharing information and aspects of your business plan across your company easier. Better communication often translates to more teamwork between groups or departments.
It likewise increases the possibility that part of your team may be able to work from home at least part of the time. Offering the option to work from home can increase employee satisfaction and lower overhead.
- Progress tracking: As you can quickly look into your objectives to see the progress of tasks leading to their completion, strategic planning software offers an excellent way to ensure your strategy is functioning at optimal performance. It also enables you to provide or receive straight-forward, quick updates on the status of your progress.
- Better accountability: With progress tracking comes increased accountability. If someone has dropped the ball—or picked up a few too many—you can easily spot those issues and rectify them. This also allows you to reward those who are doing well and offer a hand to those who are struggling. When polled, the vast majority of employees who leave an organisation state that feeling alone in their company, as if they were just another cog, was a primary motivator for their exit.
Of course, all these benefits depend on one critical element—choosing the right software. A quality strategic planning software should be:
- Customizable to the needs of your organisation and existing infrastructure/tools.-Easy to use without excessive training or specialised knowledge.
- Easy to update and adjust in the event your goals change.
- Secure and accessible from anywhere.
- Reliable with a solid system for backing up your data.
- Affordable providing ample value for the cost—both monetarily and in labour hours for set-up and utilisation
How Stratplan can help your business
Strategic planning and a solid business strategy are key elements to maintaining an upward trajectory for your business. The process of creating and following a business strategy is involved, but well worth the work, and can be made easier with the use of quality strategic planning software.