4 steps to strategic planning

Proper planning is vital to the success of any enterprise. It keeps the company focused on the needs of its customers, and helps it adapt quickly to any changes that might jeopardize its operations. However, regular planning based on forecasts is not enough. Instead, companies should engage in strategic planning, a process through which the goals and strategy of an organization are clearly stated, including at the same time progress evaluation parameters and allowing decision factors to take the steps needed to keep everything going smoothly.

Although that might sound a bit difficult, the strategic planning process only has four main steps:

1. Get a feel of your current situation

The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis will help you obtain the information you need regarding your company’s strong points, the things that can be improved, the current opportunities on the market that can make things easier, and the main threats your company is confronted with. You need to be objective in the analysis, and try to get an idea of how things really are – and not how you perceive them to be.

2. Establishing goals

Based on the information from the SWOT analysis you can develop a plan for the future of your company. You need to make the best use of your strengths and opportunities, and to determine the best way to address the weaknesses and threats. This leads to determining your priorities and stating goals, which should be SMART (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related).

3. Assign people responsible of goals

Reaching these goals means managing resources – budget, time, and human resources. You need to delegate responsibility for easier, more efficient management.

4. Evaluate and adapt

Plans can fail for various reasons, and in order to avoid that, you need to regularly evaluate your progress. This can be done through formal team meetings, preferably once a month – depending on the goals and time needed to see results. If something doesn’t work out as well as you’ve thought, don’t be afraid to adapt.

Strategic planning makes your business more efficient and more responsive to changes on the market. Laying a strategic plan for your business could help you realize what your priorities should be, and keep you focused on them.