Long-range business planning, also called strategic planning, designs the path that the company will travel for the following year, three years, five years or more depending on the organization's need. The plan not only sets the goals to be reached but develops strategic steps to attain the goals. The plan incorporates the entire organization, instead of one department, product or idea, as is the case with a business plan.
What It Does
Long-range business planning allows you to take a careful look at how your company measures up to the competition and design plans to fix any weaknesses. It also provides a foundation for future expansion plans by putting the timeline into perspective. Long-range business planning keeps the company on target as it moves forward.
While there are several strategic planning models to choose from, it is important to compare apples to apples, therefore, using the same plan at least twice in a row is important. Model types include goal-based planning and issue-based planning. Goal based is best suited for the general development of the company's future desires and path to get there. Issue-based planning should be used when problems arise and persist because this style can identify the issue and make plans to correct it.
Who to Include
All members of management should be included in the planning process. Because a good strategic plan applies to the entire organization and moving it forward, it is important to ask for each manager's input. Including all management personnel ensures that when the plan is complete, everybody is on the same page and working in the same direction. Obviously, if the company has security issues and sensitive information involved, it may limit the number of managers to be included in the planning stage, though once the plan is formulated, all members of management should be briefed on it.
Tools to Use
Each long-range plan should include an analysis of past financial records. The planning team also should examine industry trends, as well as company wide trends over the past five years. If using a goal-oriented model, several large long-term goals must be identified and then broken into smaller steps and goals to attain them. If an issue-based model is to be used, the issues at hand must be identified, and then the team can brainstorm possible solutions. All aspects should be addressed, including funding, employment, economic impact, expansion and competitors, so the final plan is a comprehensive report.
The final result will be a report that can be referred to as the company designs and implements future policies, develops additional products and begins its expansion. The long range plan should be copied and distributed to all departments to be used as a backdrop for departmental decisions.