A strategic initiative plan identifies the strategies, or initiatives, that a company will undertake to accomplish its identified goals and objectives. The planning process involves a series of steps that include the identification of strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats; the creation of goals and objectives; the development of strategies and tactics; and the use of measures and a process to evaluate results.
The SWOT Analysis
The SWOT analysis is a first step in developing a strategic initiative plan. The SWOT analysis is generally a brainstorming session in which a group of people develop lists of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal; opportunities and threats are external. For example, a strength may be related to a committed staff with long tenure, a weakness may be related to outdated technology. From an external point of view, an opportunity may be related to the loss of a key competitor, while a threat may be related to a shift in the economy.
Creating Goals and Objectives
It is important during the strategic initiative process to clearly develop goals and objectives that will drive the company's activities and the activities of its staff members. Goals are broad statements of intended outcomes, while objectives are developed to support those goals. For instance, the goal of "increase market share," might be supported by an objective that states: "grow market share in the XYZ geographic area, by 25 percent by year-end." Objectives should be SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based.
Developing Strategies and Tactics
Strategies and tactics are developed in an effort to achieve the identified goals and objectives. Their development is aided by a review of the SWOT analysis. The strengths and opportunities identified during the SWOT analysis will point to potential strategies to leverage those strengths and opportunities. The weaknesses and threats developed during the SWOT analysis will point to strategies to minimize or overcome those weaknesses and threats. For instance, the weakness related to aging technology might result in a strategy of: "investigate technology options to enhance productivity and customer service."
Strategic initiatives, once implemented, must be monitored and measured on an ongoing basis. It is important for organizations to establish regular reporting periods where those who are accountable for specific objectives can report on results. Strong performance may point to opportunities to increase or further emphasize existing strategies and tactics. Poor performance may point to the need to change or eliminate certain strategies or tactics. The strategic plan will serve as a flexible guide that changes as results are evaluated.
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