Want to develop a winning strategic plan?

Here's how.

Developing a winning strategic plan is incredibly important for every business.  Without one, a business will be hard-pressed to achieve its goals.  An effective strategic plan outlines a clear path for achieving a business’s goals and explicitly links those goals to the actions and resources required to achieve them.

Below are the five key steps for developing a winning strategic plan:

1. Establish a Vision

Every strategic plan should include a clearly articulated vision for the future of the business.  The vision should be inherently linked to underlying goals that the business is working toward achieving within the next one to three years.  When constructed correctly, the vision should provide a clear explanation of business’s goals, where it is heading going forward and define what success looks like in the future.

2. Evaluate your Performance

In order to achieve the vision outlined in the strategic plan, a business must effectively analyze its current state capabilities and performance.  Being able to identify the business’s current state strengths and weaknesses both internally and relative to key competitors is critical in order to effectively drive growth and win in the marketplace.  Without having an understanding of where the business currently stands, it’s virtually impossible to drive improvements and achieve the vision.

3. Identify Opportunities

Clearly identifying and outlining opportunities is a key step in developing a winning strategic plan.  Often, opportunities exist both internally, to drive improvements in areas of weakness, and externally, to expand into new markets, products, services and geographies.  Both types of opportunities should be identified and outlined in the strategic plan.

4. Determine Priorities

Once all potential opportunities have been identified and outlined, determining a subset to focus on is the next step.  Executing on the selected priorities should enable the business to achieve both its goals and broader vision.  If it doesn’t, then the opportunities that have been prioritized are not correct, and the business should reevaluate all identified opportunities and select new priorities that will lead to the business being able to achieve its goals and vision.

5. Develop a Roadmap

The last step in developing a winning strategic plan is building a roadmap for execution.  After priorities have been selected, the business should develop a roadmap that outlines how it plans to execute on the priorities over the next one to three years.  Included in the roadmap should be a list of projects, key milestones for each project and required resources for each project.  Once the aforementioned has been outlined, the business should also outline how it plans to monitor execution and performance across all of the projects listed over time.  The monitoring mechanism should be linked to tracking how executing on each of the projects is helping the business achieve its goals and vision.

Katie Swartz

Katie Swartz is the Founder & CEO of Avant Strategy. She has nearly fifteen of experience working with senior and C-suite executives to drive change within their respective organizations. She's managed transformational projects across strategy, operations, finance and M&A in countries throughout North America, Europe & Asia.

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