Model Your Strategic Planning Process

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Model Your Strategic Planning Process

Strategic Planning Process Model

Having a plan is the best way to ensure your business achieves its goals. But making this plan, putting it into practice, and tracking how well it’s being followed is a huge task. In fact, 61% of businesses say they struggle with implementing regular strategic planning.

That’s why we’ve created this handy guide for learning all there is to know about making, implementing, and following up on your own strategic plan. Keep reading to find out how to take your business to the next level with its strategic planning process.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process Model?

The strategic planning process is the series of steps a business takes to develop the best strategy to meet their desired short- and long-term goals. When you add the word model to the end, a strategic planning process model means creating a prototype that the business can use to inform its decisions.

You can also think about a strategic planning process model as a blueprint for your company to follow to get where it wants to go. To make this blueprint the most useful, you want to look at what the company is already doing, what resources are available, and what the company would like to achieve in the future. By combining all this information in one place and setting aside time to truly strategize the best way to achieve the desired result, a company has the best chance of achieving their overall vision.

What Are the Strategic Planning Process Model Steps?

Now that we know what a strategic planning process model is, we can focus on how to make it happen. These are some of the most common steps an organization will tackle when developing their strategic planning process model.

Step 1: Develop a Set of Rules for Creating Business Goals

Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals that align with the mission of your company is the first step in strategic planning.

  • Define and list the metrics for success for your specific business
  • Use past performance and relevant industry data to set future goals for these metrics
  • Use this rules you develop to set specific goals in each of these areas, including quarter and annual benchmarks

Here’s an example to show how this might work for Runners Are Us, a hypothetical Software as a Service (SaaS) company that tracks runners' activity and recommends personalized running plans. Runners Are Us would start their strategic planning process model by listing all relevant metrics for measuring their performance. This can include things like:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Annual recurring revenue
  • Churn rate
  • Net dollar retention
  • Customer acquisition cost 

They would then look at past performance and what other similar companies are doing to create a template for how to set their targets. This set of rules they use as a template for making goals could be that customer satisfaction should increase by 5% each quarter until it reaches 90%, that annual recurring revenue should increase by 10% each year for the next three years, and so on for each metric. Using a good strategic planning software, like Elate, can make it easy to track specific goals like these and regularly check in on them to make sure you’re on track to achieving your goals.

Step 2: Choose which Goals to Focus On

Understanding what goals are important for your business will help you focus on what should take time and resources.

  • Create or reference your company’s mission statement to clearly define priorities
  • Pick which specific goals matter most to this top priority

Looking at our Runners Are Us example again, in the last step, they may well have listed 20 different metrics to track and goals for each of them. But if they try to equally focus on 20 high-level goals all at once, they won’t be able to devote enough energy to any one of them to make a big difference. 

But Runners Are Us has a mission statement of “Data-driven running plans so every runner can have their best race.” With that mission statement in mind, customer satisfaction may be the most important metric for ensuring they are aligned with their mission, while annual recurring revenue might be the best way to see if they are growing as desired.

Step 3: Manage and Track these Goals

Once you have goals set for your business, it’s important to begin the process and follow the progress of the plan.

  • Set up a system that tracks and records these selected metrics
  • Plan for regular times to review performance

Continuing with our Runners Are Us example, let’s focus on customer satisfaction as their main goal. To manage and track customer satisfaction, they would need to send out regular surveys to collect customer feedback, incentivize customers to fill them out, quantify and record responses, and schedule at least quarterly review sessions to talk about the results. This tracking and managing step can be made easier with the right tools, like Elate, which keeps all your important goals top of mind with easy-to-understand graphics and at-a-glance progress reports.

Other Important Strategic Planning Concepts

We’ve covered the basics of strategic planning, but there are a few other concepts you might run into in this realm that are important to understand.

What Are Strategy Frameworks?

A strategic framework is what allows you to choose which goals to focus on. It provides the context of what’s important to your business and makes sure that those critical principles are integrated into your goal-setting and planning process. This strategic framework model can help you categorize your goals (as in, these metrics are about creating our best product and these metrics are about making sure it’s delivered to customers in the best way). 

A best practice is to first choose your strategy models, then frameworks to apply to those models. You can apply more than one framework to your overall model, since most businesses have multiple principles that are important to them.

What Is Strategic Alignment?

Strategic alignment means making sure everyone involved in your business knows what the overall vision is, and what specific goals are in place to achieve this vision. A business could have developed the best strategic plan, but if only the CEO knows what it is, they are unlikely to achieve much. Detailing your goals for employees and any other stakeholders through monthly, quarterly, and annual review meetings can help promote transparency and strategic alignment.  

What Are the Types of Strategic Planning?

The steps we laid out earlier give you a basic idea of what goes into strategic planning. But there are many ways to carry out these steps. Here are some specific types of strategic planning that businesses use to put this theory into practice. 

  1. The Balanced Scorecard- This uses four metrics to set goals and measure performance: customer, internal process, organizational capacity, and financial. 
  2. Objectives and Key Results (OKR)- This uses big, company-wide goals to create specific objectives and then tracks the most important metrics around these results.
  3. Theory of Change (TOC) - This uses long-term goals and works backward to set intermediate goals and short-term changes that need to be accomplished at set times.
  4. Hoshin Planning - This is an alignment strategic planning model, and aims for communication and understanding of company goals by every employee to most effectively reach goals.
  5. Issue-Based Strategic Planning - This uses a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to find major issues and goals, then develops an action plan for solving them.
  6. Scenario Strategic Planning - This uses brainstorming about best, worst, and reasonable case scenarios about company outcomes to develop business responses. It is best used in conjunction with other plans.
  7. Organic Strategic Planning Model - This uses a more natural approach to planning than other more structured styles. It relies on constant communication and employee alignment on company values and goals that unfold naturally over time.

Strategic Planning Examples

We’ve covered a lot around the topic of strategic planning, now let’s go through some concrete examples to give you a better idea of what this looks like in the real world. If we wanted to draft a conceptual model for creating a strategic plan for a company that can be applied broadly, it might look something like this for OKR strategic planning:

  1. What is your main company goal or most important objective?
  2. What are the best metrics for measuring this objective?
  3. What needs to be done to gather this data?
  4. Who is going to do the gathering and recording?
  5. When is the data going to be analyzed, and who should be there for it? 
  6. How are the results of this analysis going to be implemented to make improvements?

Now we’ll return to our hypothetical Runners Are Us SaaS company from earlier to go through a specific example.

  1. Since their mission is “Data-driven running plans so every runner can have their best race,” they identify customer satisfaction as one of their most important objectives. 
  2. Churn rate, customer satisfaction ratings, time spent on the platform, and the number of runners logging completed races could be identified as the best metrics for measuring this objective.
  3. Much of this data will be metrics available from platform analytics. Creating, distributing, and collecting data from a customer feedback form needs to be a priority.
  4. All of these measuring and collecting tasks need to be assigned to team members and become a part of the regular workflow.
  5. Fortnightly meetings to analyze results should be scheduled between the leadership and customer success teams to compare specific goals for each metric.
  6. Enough bandwidth needs to be kept free for the product and engineering team to address customer complaints and issues that are reported through this feedback.

What Are Strategic Planning Tools?

Strategic planning tools help bring your strategy to life and make your company’s strategic planning process easier. At Elate, we think of Strategic Planning in three phases: Build, Execute, and Review. This means that tools for strategic planning should help facilitate how you build your strategy, execute your strategy, and review your strategy to evolve with the changes to your business. For those looking at a solution to bring strategy to life, it’s important to evaluate a solution that can provide the following: 

  • Pre-made templates and framework for company goal setting that connects with your long-term vision
  • Easy, intuitive tracking to facilitate adoption across your company 
  • Integrations to tools to track progress. Including those for website and traffic analytics like Google Analytics and Hubspot
  • Remove the barrier to entry with collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams

The very best strategic planning tools are ones that can work together between all of these platforms to seamlessly create a simple, unified approach. At Elate, we have created an end-to-end strategic planning platform that allows you to more intuitively build your strategy and execute. We offer integrations with all the favorite tools you’re already using, to get everyone on the same page to achieve your business's overall goals. 

Elate keeps fast-growing companies setting great goals, following through on them, and reviewing their plans as they go along. We help you visualize your most important metrics for success, and share what’s happening with everyone. When you’re ready to take your strategic planning to the next level, request a demo to see how Elate can serve your goals.

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