As the new year approaches we find that there are more and more small businesses turning to our management consultants to help them with their strategic planning.
Your businesses' specific concerns are dictated by whats happening in your everyday environment, and the strategic planning process is useful to allow you to take a step back from the day to day operations in order to identify areas that might need attention.
In our experience there are two key types of strategic planning that organizations undertake: General strategic planning, and competitive strategy.
Internal strategic planning.
The key aspect of strategic planning is aligning all members of the management team with the purpose and vision of the organization; both in the short and long term.
Once an organization is on the same page as far as where they want to go and what they want to achieve, they then need to create the action plans to get there.
We find that strategic planning is most beneficial for SME's because they have limited resources ( Time, money and people) and they need to make the most of every decision.
By making decisions that are not directly inline with their goals and objectives, an organization risks wasting valuable time and money, and who wants that?
Strategic planning of this nature can be done by any company at any time; many companies do it yearly, but some have strategy meetings quarterly, monthly and as often as weekly.
We think that the management teams of SME's should meet at least quarterly to evaluate prior performance as well as track changes in the business environment. We also advise that teams should have a longer session once a year to establish the goals and visions of the organization for the upcoming year and beyond.
Depending on the scope of the planning session and the experience in the group, here are some of the things that we at SME Strategy like to cover:
- What is the purpose of the meeting? What are we here to do?
- What is the mission and vision of the organization?
- Where are we now?
- Where are we trying to go? (what does success look like?)
- What do we need to do to get there?
- Who's responsible?
If possible, leave time for key questions and concerns as a group discussion.
In more complex strategy planning sessions we would include: organizational values, a SWOT analysis, and a marketing strategy as part of the implementation.
These sessions can last for a 1-2 days so leaving time for team building and brainstorming activities is equally important to creating an effective and fun strategic planning process.
Competitive strategic planning.
Once you have a good understanding of what your organization is, and where they are going, you may find your company operating in a highly competitive environment. (You'll discover this though your SWAT analysis, and discussions with your team if you didn't realize it already)
All companies have competitors, but in some industries, the actions and decisions that your competitors make have a greater impact on how you run your organization.
Competitive strategy requires you to focus part of your attention outside your own organization to what's happening in the marketplace, and guiding your decision making based on your current and desired position in the market.
Whether that means:
- increase product offerings existing customers,
- launching a product into a different market,
- increasing current customer revenue,
- or maintaining existing marketshare,
Your decisions are a based on what your competitors are doing, and what you anticipate them to do in the future.
Every company should be aware of their competitors activities, but competitive strategic planning is a focused approach to creating a competitive advantage within the organization; with the goal of increasing marketshare and beating your competitors.
Strategic planning not only helps align your people with your business vision, but it can also help you get a deeper understanding of the current and ever changing environment that your business operates in.
Whether you hire consultants to help facilitate your strategic planning sessions, or you do it on your own, we encourage you to take some time with your team, ideally off site, and dedicate time (a few hours, or a few days) to strategic planning.
You'll find that you'll come out with a better idea of where your company is going, you'll be more prepared for risk and uncertainty, and you'll have a detailed action plan with responsibilities to take you into the next quarters and years ahead.
For more information on how a strategic planning facilitator can help your company make the most of their strategic planning efforts contact us today. SME Strategy- Because every great business, has a great strategy.