Redefine your strategic planning process. Dynamic planning with radical simplicity connects planning, execution, and success for Strategy and Operations leaders.Learn More
Elate puts everything you need to build your Strategic Plan right at your fingertips. From setting your long-term vision and annual goals to tracking quarterly objectives, it’s never been easier to create a plan that helps you reach your goals.
Rather than working out of dozens of spreadsheets or endless presentations, Elate helps you build a simple, intuitive plan that can be easily shared with team members.
The longevity of any business can be traced back to one essential element, a strategic plan. Without one, your company is doomed to struggle and ultimately fail before it ever truly gets off the ground. 30% of businesses pointed to communication failures as the greatest challenge to being successful with their strategy. There are a variety of common tools at a business's disposal to aid them in their planning process, but they can often be unnecessarily complex and simply aren't as engaging as they need to be in order to be successful. More on those later.
A successful strategic planning framework will allow you and your team to fill in the critical elements of your overall plan and act as a blueprint for the process.
Before diving in too far, there is an important clarification that needs to be made. The terms business plan and strategic plan can be viewed as two separate processes depending on where you look online. For our sake, and a majority of companies' sake, these two terms can be used interchangeably. The differences you can find between them are minuscule.
In essence, the business plan explains how the day-to-day tactical execution will work, and the strategic plan identifies how you will achieve key initiatives to move the business in a positive direction.
If some of this sounds a bit "in the clouds," don't worry. We have put together this comprehensive guide to deconstruct strategic planning and show you available tools to make the entire process easier.
While we could spend all day discussing what strategic planning could mean, we can save time by looking at the fundamentals. As we briefly mentioned above, a strategic plan is a management practice used to establish high-level priorities and strengthen operational practices. Your strategic plan will also guide your organization on what it is, provides, and why it does the work they do. It should also feature a heavy focus on the future. A successful plan will unify all departments under a common goal that pushes the business forward. All operational decisions should be able to link back to the strategic plan
While a basic strategic planning model or plan focuses on newer organizations and helps with their purpose, different types of strategic planning can help with a company's direction. Here are a few common strategies or tools that any successful business will likely conduct at some point.
These strategic planning tools fall under three major strategy levels:
While all of these tools are at your disposal, it is not always easy to perform them without some help. An organization like Elate can assist with what metrics to track, when to automate them, and how to structure them to drive outcomes.
Take a step to honestly answer, "How much time do you spend on your strategy each month?" If your answer is not that much, you aren't alone. A Harvard Business Review study found that 85% of leadership teams spend less than one hour each month discussing strategy. This is a leading factor in why so many businesses fail to hit the targets outlined in their initial strategy. Those numbers are helpful to study, but are there documented benefits of strategic planning? Plenty! Here are a few to get you started.
The elements of good strategy are developed out of a necessity for direction to move a business forward. Your strategic plan can look completely different from a direct competitor in the same industry—and that’s ok! A quick Google search or consultation meeting with various agencies will expose you to a variety of different plans that all claim to be the best fit for you. The good news is that there are basic steps that a successful strategic plan will align with. So what are the steps in strategic planning?
Any successful strategic planning examples will be more in-depth than the abovementioned steps. Use them as a template to begin your own process and expand or retract where necessary.
There is a lot to undertake when creating a strategic business plan, and even for larger organizations with hundreds of employees, it can be challenging to perform on your own. Fear not, you are not alone in this process, and there are still more tools you can utilize.
The use of cutting-edge software can aid the strategic planning process to add longevity to your business. When you search for software to assist in this process, you can get bogged down in the research and not realize that many of these agencies offer services that only solve one singular pain point. These can feel like band-aids that are solving one small issue today, without helping you get to the root of a problem.
Instead, strategic planning software should assist your team in getting into a rhythm with their work while providing a solution that supports the operating framework you've chosen to implement at your company. Software can help you plan for milestones down the road.
Whether it is your first or 50th strategic planning session, software should aid in revisiting a 3, 5, or 10-year plan. To help get a better understanding of what reviewing these plans can do, let's look at a 5-year strategic plan example.
To start, you should identify anywhere from three to five milestones that you want to achieve five years from now. These themes or focus areas will help measure future success. First, to clarify, these themes can be anything related to sales, a new product launch, or even company culture. For our example, let's use customer success. The theme could be to help 100 new businesses experience 5% revenue growth after partnering with your company.
Regardless of what you end up choosing as your milestones for your 3, 5, or 10-year plan, a major factor that can help set up any plan for success is timing. Take time to research your main competitors and where a gap in your industry exists that you can fill. Rushing into creating a business strategy will result in shortcomings that could have been avoided if more time had been put in before creating the plan.
Some may call us biased, but you can't deny what works. Our team at Elate has been helping teams execute on their plans at the highest level, and you could even say that we wrote the playbook on strategic planning. Don't just take our word for it; shop around and see what is available to you. When looking for the best software, you should keep a few things in mind. Any service that you end up choosing should, at the bare minimum, do the following:
Your business could have seen a fraction of its potential success using Objectives and Key Results (OKR) warehouses, generic performance management tools, and status quo, but were you aware of the flaws they present to your operation?
An OKR warehouse is a business framework where an organization can establish and measure goals. On paper, OKRs can help drive alignment within your company. The problem is that OKRs are just one piece of strategic planning and execution. OKRs are great for driving the execution component of the plan, but just focusing on OKRs may limit your ability to create a holistic strategic planning framework. Additionally, a few of the major faults in OKRs warehouses include;
Today's business world is in non-stop motion, and implementing a system like OKR should help create a more simplified, dynamic approach to growing your business.
This strategy is used to maintain current operating procedures based on past success. It is inherently flawed as it does not naturally push progression within a company. Discovering something that works is fantastic, but there needs to be constant innovation as well. The status quo is also commonly the continued use of excel spreadsheets or powerpoint to track a company's strategic plan, which is highly outdated and less accurate than modern methods. Here are a handful of flaws we have identified with the status quo method.
Operating from the status quo lacks, in general, a clear sense of direction. As we have mentioned throughout this piece, a lack of direction can be detrimental to any business regardless of previous successes.
Performance management tools can provide a great avenue for HR leaders to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction and feedback to help improve the culture of your organization. However, when it comes to driving execution and action, performance management tools can create a major roadblock for employees.
Blending performance management with strategic planning and execution, will naturally lead to a culture where employees feel like any misstep or failure is being judged by their managers in a way that can impact their performance, job, or even salary. Employees working out of fear for their job security are never going to perform to the best of their ability.
Your company has big goals and an incredible vision. So let your strategic planning reflect that. Don't force employees to feel as though they are being graded by performance, because you will lead them to lowering their goals or attainable targets to feel like they can meet expectations.
Here are a few other complications you can run into with performance management tools.
We are so confident because we've used these systems and understand their flaws at their core. That is why, if your company has found success with using OKRs, we can still help. We will meet with your team to understand your goals, assist in the rollout process and share best practices every step of the way to ensure you have lasting OKR success in no time.
At Elate, we are here to help you through every stage of the planning process, as we don't feel we've succeeded until you do. OKR implementation, transferring your business objectives, operations strategy/recommendations, and a complete dashboard migration are our four focus areas.
We bring a concise focus to your strategic planning, so while you embrace changes and focus on building the best team possible, alignment will never be a concern. We are able to provide this by enabling your team to easily share updates, measure performance, and streamline data for the whole organization to consume.
A strategic plan can drive alignment and make all the difference in the longevity of a business. Contact us today to take your strategy to the next level.