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10 Characteristics of a Great Strategic Plan
Although the concept of strategic planning is not new, it is an activity that many organizations typically struggle with. The strategic planning process often results in a significant investment of management time for a strategic plan with limited perceived value. A robust strategic plan should be a powerful management tool that guides an organization’s resource allocation and helps define where attention should be focused. But how do you know if you’ve developed a great strategic plan? Here are the ten things we look for in successful strategic plans; ensuring that these elements are covered will provide a significant leg up in developing a valuable strategic plan for your organization.
1. Cover an appropriate time horizon (18 – 36 months)
Strategic planning closes the gap between the organizational strategy that may occur once every five to ten years and the tactical planning and budgeting that most companies perform annually. The strategic plan is materially informed by the organization’s strategy, mission and vision, and should be used as input to the budgeting process. In the past, strategic plans may have stretched over longer time horizons, but with today’s pace of change in technology and markets, we recommend a horizon of 18 – 36 months to take on in this process. In rare cases, some larger organizations with high capital costs and significant interdependencies may stretch this to 5 years.
2. Be informed by the past but focused on the future
An organization’s strategic plan is fundamentally a forward looking document that defines where the organization is going. However, do not make the mistake of separating the future from the past. Past performance is a good indicator of future success. Using historical comparisons, growth rates for similar markets or products, and implementation timelines from prior projects will add realism to your plan and increase confidence in its outcomes.
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