The planning process is iterative. It contains a circular flow of action items and requests. Issues that arise in one step may influence the course of action in the next. Implementation and planning must work together for the process to be truly successful. In strategy planning, the challenge is often finding an efficient framework for analysis.
A situational analysis helps strategic planners to identify the current issues. The situation is analyzed for environmental monitoring, competition, internal business culture and knowledge analysis. Each of these issues provides feedback on the current state of affairs.
Strategic planning involves looking at the vision, mission, business model and direction of an organization. Both the vision and mission should evolve with the strategic plan. Planning teams with cross-functional, executive level, leadership can help with planning. CEO/CFO support is very helpful. The team facilitator should decide on team members, the planning timetable, where and how often members will meet, who will conduct research versus business analysis and how information will be communicated with all stakeholders.
Gap Analysis and Implementation
Prior to implementation a gap analysis is performed. A gap analysis is used to identify any gaps between the current state and the planned state. Pilot programs are often used as a way to test changes to procedures or processes before rolling out to a larger population. After gap analysis, implementation of the plan can begin. Implementation is documented using a balanced scorecard (or other reporting format) to document changes and communicate performance measures for goal achievement.
One of the most important processes for strategic plan development is monitoring progress. Creating a feedback system can help to automate corrective actions. The feedback system is usually connected to a centralized data source, and maintained with accurate descriptions, policies, procedures and formulas. If done correctly, the feedback system becomes the documentation process.
Strategic plans must include an allowance for corporate culture. The plan embodies the values of the planning team and organization, and provides directional guidance on profit and growth goals. It also speaks to corporate citizenship, organizational behavior, and operating philosophy.