What Are the Steps to Developing an Effective Business Strategy?
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
The importance of having an effective business strategy in place should never be underestimated. A strategic plan defines how to actually achieve the goals you want to attain for the business. If you want your organization to achieve growth and evolve within the marketplace, having clear goals and tasks in place with achievable deadlines is essential. It will define any challenges and provide an opportunity for innovation and development. It will also keep you competitive and identify areas where you can stand out from the crowd.
The key outline points essential to the success of a working business strategy to note at this stage are:
1. Communicate and align - Make sure everyone within the organization understands what you want to achieve and exactly how it will be achieved.
2. Drive accountability – Group meetings, discussions and deadlines will highlight what is being achieved and compare the required actions to the schedule relative to the agreed deadlines.
3. Create focus – Make sure goals, actions and deadlines are clearly defined and ultimately achievable for each area of the business.
4. Be action focused – Make sure that practical actions are being taken to achieve the desired outcomes.
5. Track progress – Clear communication across all departments will allow others to see how their individual responsibilities interlink with others and understand it must be a joint and considered effort by all involved.
Step 1 – Gather as much information as possible
In order to put a working plan in place for the future, you’ll need to understand where the organization currently is. A deep dive into your organization will be required and its essential no areas are shied away from. This involves evaluating each department to identify what currently works and what doesn’t. This is typically achieved with a strategic SWOT Analysis. Divided into 4 main categories of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, this approach highlights and identifies current and future business needs, from both an internal and external point of view.
Step 2 – Identify your Strategic Objectives
Be clear on what you want to achieve moving forward, whether it’s digital transformation, attracting more clients/customers, moving into a new territory or product growth. These objectives should be aligned with the organization's mission statement. Define the outcomes that need to be achieved and make them measurable and attainable. These objectives will form the measurable steps which will allow the organization to reach its strategic goals over an agreed time period.
Step 3 – Develop and implement your strategic plans
These will need to be both short and long term plans to follow in order to achieve your overall objectives and to move your organization forward. Any strategic or tactical plan will cover the core goals in broad terms, allowing you to define the processes at the stage implementation. Assigning core areas of responsibility will be vital to the success of your strategic business plan.
Step 4 – Continuous Improvement and Management
As with anything in life, plans are subject to change. Managing strategic plans can be complex, so you’ll need to find the best way to capture the information you want to review. It’s essential to review ongoing processes at the top level, weekly and monthly, depending on the scale and impact of the actions at each stage. Holding the people who are responsible accountable and ensuring overall tasks are delegated to the correct people is paramount. Those people will then have to develop more detailed action plans to delegate and manage the tasks further down the reporting line of management.
Some of the additional challenges to be aware of when you’re looking to develop a business strategy include the following:
· Be aware when you’re setting deadlines, there is a need to build in a buffer to provide some flexibility. As you implement your tactical plans there will certainly be some challenges you’ll need to overcome, which may require extra time.
· Employees can be resistant to change, so involving members of the different departments will also encourage uptake, and drive employee engagement across new projects and process changes.
· Initial software choices made when looking at how to manage strategic plans may require more user licenses as projects move forward, so allow for this within your project budget.
Overall developing a strategic business plan is a chance to take stock and look towards the future growth of your organization. Technology and the marketplace are continuously evolving and those who don’t embrace change will be left behind. New competition will always be around the corner and it’s vital to stay ahead of the curve.
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