In order to proceed with the realisation of a strategic plan in advance, it is necessary to define a plan before carrying it out. This is because often several phases and steps are necessary, without the realisation of previous activities and steps it will not be possible to move on to the next ones. It will be necessary, for example, to
Define who will be responsible for each of the processes.
Specify the time frame for the completion of each step, activity and process.
Who will be responsible for intervening in each stage, activity and process, and at the same time, specifying the moments within each of them.
Work prior to planning
Prior to planning, it is necessary to establish the period of validity of the plan. It is not recommended to establish strategic plans with a duration of less than two years, unless the internal or external circumstances of the organisation change in a transcendental way. This does not mean that evaluations of the plans and the changes of course that these evaluations may suggest, if we are moving away from the objectives set, should be dispensed with.
There are different times in the life cycle of an organisation when it seems necessary to establish a strategic plan. We will need a new strategic plan when we are going to carry out a new project which, due to its characteristics, is new and breaks with the previous schemes carried out in the organisation.
Being aware of this, it will be necessary for the formulation of a strategic plan:
Formation of the planning team
The organisation or unit must be clear about who will be the participants in the plan development group and what will be the responsibility of each one of them within this team. Often the planning team will need to have a team of external consultants in certain areas.
Organisational leaders should be aware of this need and facilitate this by resourcing the planning team. However, having these resources often leads to significant cost overruns in the development phase of the plan, so it is important to be clear on which part of the objectives the external consultancy team will assist and to establish the importance and priority of having such assistance. Likewise, the consulting teams are not permanently available to the planning team, so it is essential to specify the times and circumstances in which they must be available to the planning team.
It is possible that, in order to achieve a certain objective, different activities can be carried out, but the unification of criteria can be a hindrance. This makes it necessary to clearly establish and define the activities to be carried out during the development of the plan. It is essential to know the activities and the results that each of them will offer, as well as the resources that will be necessary, in addition to the deadlines and timeframes for completing each of the activities.
In order to define the activities it is necessary to consider:
The resources available to us and the need for each one of them. The more resources we have, the more feasible it will be to incorporate more elements into the activities. However, we must not forget that having more resources can lead us to introduce niches of inefficiency in the project.
Support available. Although it may not seem an important aspect, it will be necessary to know who are the people who support the project and if they are key people within the organisation. The lack of support or the doubts of key people are factors that can lead to the failure of the planning project.
Objectives to be achieved. It is essential that these objectives are properly prioritised and whether these objectives are key or ancillary. Depending on their classification, it will be possible to establish the time and deadlines in which the progress of their achievement should be observed.
One of the biggest shortcomings of a strategic planning process is the lack of people participating in it. It is therefore necessary to identify all the people who will be affected by the plan and thus involve them in its design and development. This is also key, as participation in the development of the plan will be a motivating element for its subsequent implementation.
It is necessary to have a timetable that organises the processes of formulating a strategic plan, knowing:
– What we want to achieve, the results of the process.
– The steps that need to be followed, those that are key and should not be skipped.
– The additional steps we may need, as well as the necessary resources, in case we have to carry them out.
– Priority. Not all of them have the same importance, therefore it is necessary to mark those that are a priority, emphasising their correct elaboration and development.
– Flexibility. It is important in what way we can be flexible in the development of the activities, the slack to carry out each one of the steps that compose it in order not to introduce deviations in its realisation.