How to Make Strategic Planning Yield Expected Outcomes

Many businesses ply their trade without having any functional strategic plans in place. However, it is proven that strategic planning offers several benefits for businesses in every industry, irrespective of their size. Strategic planning builds a forward-moving attitude in the leaders of every function within an organization. It helps leaders sharpen operational policies and objectives, coordinate functional activities in a more streamlined manner, and establish specific standards for performance for exercising more robust control over resources.

Unlike the usual yearly and long-term plans that help deal with current functional challenges, strategic planning allows different active leaders to adapt to the changing business environment and make the most of the available opportunities. Strategic planning revolves around establishing a process to strike a fit between the functional capabilities and objectives in the changing business market. This process has several steps directed towards making human and material resources effectively contribute to achieving goals of respective functions within an organization. Strategic planning helps leaders to determine not only the mission of different functions but also their long-term goals. What it also does is help them plan their course of actions and resource allocation according to those goals. The steps involve preparing a plan, evaluating the existing situation, and measuring how the plan is affecting functional efficiency daily.

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Taking a strategic approach: Even before leaders start to think about their functional plans, they need to make sure that they are moving ahead with a strategic approach. They should keep themselves away from thoughts that make them worry about short-term goals and other such things. And that includes how they see budgeting and cost management as well. Most functional leaders find themselves in a state of bother due to short-term objectives, operational issues, and concerns over failure. And these preoccupations usually end up digging a hole when it comes to achieving strategic aspirations. Leaders need to get over this negative frame of mind and look at things from business value. They also need to understand that cost optimizations are the most effective way of adequately allocating long-term growth and innovation resources. Leaders need to take an ideal budgeting approach for their particular function.

List down expectations: For strategic planning to pay dividends, all the stakeholders need to understand what business and enterprise stand for. If this isn’t done right initially, it could bring strategic plans off track. Also, every stakeholder and participant should know their responsibilities, the timelines of the process, and the contribution expected from them. This is especially important in functions that involve planning and budgeting. 

Align functional goals with business purposes: Functional leaders need to make sure that they speak to business leaders to understand the existing state of the business and where it is expected to move in the future. They also need to make business leaders define capabilities required to achieve business goals and establish parameters to measure progress at regular intervals. Also, functional leaders need to communicate to business leaders about the impact of business goals and purpose on their function. Thus, amongst the current functional opportunities, imperatives, and risks should they consider essential and which of those should they stop worrying about. 

Evaluate capabilities: To achieve functional goals, leaders need to ensure that they assess the significance of different abilities and their maturity. The results of the internal assessment of the capabilities of other functions shouldn’t be too far off from the perceptions of a business partner. Functional leaders need to create a priority list of capabilities to fill the gaps or boost efforts to achieve business goals. 

Define specific objectives: There needs to be a clear list of goals for every stakeholder. Only then the steps and path to achieve those will work the way they are supposed to. Working aggressively to accomplish specific functional objectives can help achieve its strategic business goals. However, this process could take a year or two to fruition. Every purpose needs to be specific to a function, tangible, actionable, and have a short completion deadline. Also, leaders need to have an action plan in place to track the progress of each objective and tie the progress of each purpose with easily quantifiable metrics.

Fund objectives: No matter how ambitious the growth objectives are defined in strategic planning, they still need to be supported by technology, finances, and talent. Functional leaders, however, have the challenge to overcome – how should they go about allocating resources in a way that critical investment and initiatives aren’t left unsupported? Leaders need to have a clear idea about their baseline budget. They should prioritize the initiatives that have a greater strategic value than others and at the same time, put underutilized resources to better use.

Convey the message: Now, the strategic plan is ready, and it needs to reach every participant. The responsibility of the functional leadership lies in ensuring that the plan is properly communicated and that everyone understands it. The message needs to be as clear and consistent as possible for all the participants to understand and agree. This will also help in its seamless implementation. 


  • 9 Steps to Successful Functional Strategic Planning | Gartner | Jackie Wiles | November 30, 2020
  • Strategic Planning Process: 9 Steps of Setting Proper Strategic Plan | iEduNote

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