Assessing the Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning is an important and essential process for every company regardless of the size of its business and the time and other resources that the company has available to invest in the developing, documenting, implementing and monitoring a strategic plan.  The business environment and relevant technologies are constantly changing and new risks and uncertainties will surface on a regular basis.  It is not uncommon for larger companies to employ teams of experts in a dedicated strategic planning unit to work full-time on the planning process and to solicit input from hundred or thousands of managers throughout the organization.  For smaller companies, however, the process is necessarily more informal and compressed and may even be as simple as the founder or CEO sitting down with a handful of key employees to solicit their opinions on where the company should go over the planning period and what investments will need to be made in order to achieve the mutually recognized goals and objectives.  In any event, there are certain common steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that the development of a strategic plan flows smoothly and that all issues have been carefully considered.  Among the questions that should be asked are the following:

  • Has the company developed and clearly defined a clear mission statement or overall sense of direction?
  • Has the company decided upon a clear definition of the nature of its business, the markets in which it intends to operate, and the products and services it wishes to offer to customers?
  • Has the company clearly articulated the values that it intends to honor and follow in the way it which it conducts its business affairs?
  • Has the company identified and clearly described realistic and objectively definable and measurable business goals and objectives?
  • Has the company established a regular process for periodically evaluating its performance against its stated business goals and objectives and determining whether changes to those goals and objectives are necessary?
  • Has the company established a formal procedure for collecting, storing, organizing, reviewing and disseminating information regarding the company’s external environment?
  • Has the identified and describe the four or five key strengths and weaknesses of its business?
  • Did the process of developing the current strategic business plan include serious and thorough consideration of several possible alternative strategies and is it clear why the company ultimately decided to pursue the chosen strategy?
  • What are the key assumptions regarding environmental factors that have been made in developing the company’s forecasts for the planning period?
  • How effective has the CEO been in involving all of the members of the senior management team and employees in the planning process?
  • Has the strategic plan been clearly and effectively communicated to employees and what steps have been taken to address any concerns that employees may have raised with regard to the implementation of the plan and potential consequences to the employees?
  • Does the strategic plan include a realistic timetable for implementation including milestones that can be used to chart whether the company is making adequate and timely process toward its overall goals and objectives?
  • Does the company have the tools and resources in place to measure performance against the forecasts, goals and objectives included in the strategic plan? 

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