Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.
–Tom Landry, football coach, Dallas Cowboys
Many small to mid-size businesses undertake strategic planning and budgeting as a regular process during the last quarter of the year. If your agency does not yet follow a planning model, it is well worth considering. The benefits of implementing strategic and tactical planning on a yearly basis far outweigh the time invested in the process. The time and focus required yields valuable results, creates a sense of ownership among team members, and defines a clear path for future activities. After the uncertainty resulting from the ongoing pandemic, engaging in the planning process also may help refocus the organization as you work together to identify the lessons learned from the past two years.
Strategic and tactical planning involves creating a course of action to achieve short- and long-term goals. Strategic plans reflect your company’s mission statement, purpose and direction, and generally encompass a broad scope, perhaps18 to 24 months down the road. Tactical plans are designed to achieve short-term goals focused on the upcoming fiscal year. The tactical plan should address elements and initiatives related to sustaining and growing the operation that ultimately will move the company toward its strategic objectives.
Developing a successful planning process generally includes the following elements:
- Define the Purpose – Traditional planning and budgeting focused on predictability and control. In a post-pandemic marketplace, the purpose may shift toward improving outcomes for customers, employees and investors.
- Create a Model – Determine the elements you want to address such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, key issues, environmental assessment, risk management, action plans, and budget projections. Rather than defining the “right” path, the model may acknowledge current and future uncertainties and seek to identify strategies to adapt to obstacles as they arise.
- Plan Regularly and Adjust as Needed – Many companies address strategic planning annually, but it doesn’t take an event as dramatic as a global health crisis to derail a budget that is set in stone. Identifying an overall annual forecast with opportunities to make adjustments on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis tends to improve accuracy and increase the chance of achieving strategic success.
One of the key elements in any corporate planning process is involving your team. Clearly communicate goals, expectations, and deadlines to executives, managers, and others involved in the planning process. Update the entire team on a regular basis through staff meetings or reports reflecting the status of the organization’s goals and objectives. Providing information, education, and transparency for managers and employees helps to increase their sense of ownership and fosters “buy-in” of the plan and its goals. Creating a culture of team empowerment on all levels strengthens the ability of the organization to achieve its shared goals, particularly during times of perceived market unpredictability and increased uncertainty.
President and CEO