Having been involved in a few strategic planning processes, I have found that most management teams struggle with the concept of developing strategies versus implementing projects.  Most management teams jump directly into the projects and more often than not, these do not result in the desired strategic outcome.

Successful companies are typically those that develop strategic plans that drive toward their vision and mission.  These plans are summarised by establishing 3 to 5 strategic goals with set objectives.

These goals must be timely and measurable, that’s why we have objectives so that success can be monitored.  An example of a strategic goal might be to increase revenue over the next 3 years, the objective would be to increase sales over the next 3 years by 15% annually, the goal is now measurable.  To achieve this goal, specific strategies would be developed and implemented.  One of these strategies might be to design a social media marketing campaign.  This campaign could include strategies for an interactive website, bulk emails, SMS’s, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and specific projects to drive each of these elements. This is a structured approach to move toward a specific goal, this is Strategy.

Many companies just jump in at the project level without giving the Strategy much attention.  They decide to build a more effective website, but without the other social media components that all interrelate, they end up with less than optimum results. Additionally, this piecemeal approach may or may not result in increased revenue, as that may or may not have been the driver for the website redesign.

Strategic planning is a very valuable process for companies of all sizes and at all stages of development.  The process helps to provide clear and measurable objectives which focus capital, funding and human resources on things that ultimately produce long-term results for the business.