Business planning has been used, reworked and contorted in numerous ways to suit the needs of individual organizations. When writing a paper, you are instructed to formulate an outline; when deciding what needs to get done today or this month, you jot down a to-do list or create a goals and budget spreadsheet.
On a larger scope, organizations set goals and make plans to improve their business and create a visualization of their future. However, to sustain long-term objectives, many organizations benefit from going a step further by creating a strategic plan to drive growth.
What is a Strategic Plan?
For those of you who don’t know, a strategic plan for business purposes is a set of clearly defined, long-term goals created by setting objectives and priorities. It shapes and guides who, what, when, why and how an organization’s mold or structure impacts the progression of its future.
The overall goal of a strategic plan is to transition static goals into clearly defined and easily digestible objectives through strategy.
To ensure the longevity of a sustainable organization, Forbes has identified Five Steps to a Strategic Plan. These aren't the steps of a five step-plan; they are five best practices to use when formulating and implementing a strategic plan to grow your business.
Forbes mentions five topical steps for creating a strategic plan; however, there are a few more specific aspects to focus on when creating a strategic plan which includes a:
- Mission statement which should clearly express the general embodiment of the organization. It should strive to answer who you are and why you do what you do.
- Vision statement that shares the direction of the organization in brevity.
- Value statement expressing the passions that drive and guide the overall decision making patterns of the organization.
- SWOT analysis that depicts the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Comparison between the organization and its competitors.
- List of long and short term goals that the company wishes to perform.
- Strategic method on how the organization will reach its goals.
- Financial assessment that takes a snapshot of previous records and future goals.
Each strategic plan varies depending on the organization's size and objectives, but one thing is constant: strategic planning benefits organizations of all sizes.
Putting the Plan into Practice
Larger manufacturers are more likely to adhere to strategic planning; while smaller manufacturing organizations tend to be more reluctant to adhering to a strategic plan. These smaller manufacturers can expect benefits equivalent to their larger manufacturing counterparts. Here are some guidelines for smaller manufacturers to keep in mind:
When manufacturers create and implement strategic goals and plans they:
- Will have a roadmap to guide their day-to-day decisions without having to stop and think about every decision that needs to be made.
- Avoid chasing opportunities that do not align with the strategic direction of the company.
- Have milestones so that they can measure their progress toward achieving the goals in the plan.
- Can focus on the things the company does well.
As you can see, all sizes of manufacturing organizations are able to benefit from strategic planning--not just larger manufacturing organizations. Strategic planning may help smaller sized manufacturing organizations improve their growth and become industry leaders.
What can Strategic Planning do for me?
There isn’t a one size fits all strategic plan; a strategic plan is developed based on the needs and goals of an individual organization. Some businesses require certain assessments and areas evaluated, while others may not require so many areas of refining.
Creating, implementing, assessing and revising an organization’s strategic plan helps an organization stay focused on their goals and grow in more ways than they might imagine. Strategic planning creates structure and sustainability within an organization.
Today's business leaders make plans in the forms of tasks lists, spreadsheets and calendars to stay on track and keep organized; wouldn’t you want to do the same for your organization?