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What is strategic planning?

We explain what strategic planning is and what this process consists of. Why it is important and strategic planning models.

  1. What is strategic planning?

For strategic planning or strategic planning we are usually referring to a process systematic, ie, methodical, in implementing plans to achieve desired goals and outcomes . It is a type of tactical planning that contemplates the best ways to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves, both within an organization ( company , institution, etc.) and in personal life.

Strategic planning is an organizational tool commonly used , especially in the military field (military strategy) or in business ( business strategy or financial strategy). Likewise, it also applies to a varied set of areas of life , in which it is necessary to lay the foundations for the achievement of a goal, anticipating possible inconveniences and proceeding according to the most suitable route given the resources that are available.

The task of all this is to find a good strategy , that is, with a good path or a good set of procedures to reach the goal. This translates into:

  • Define and then achieve the proposed objective .
  • Take advantage of competitive advantages to stand out from the rest.
  • Design an appropriate methodology for available resources, the environment in which it is located and the dynamics it faces.
  • Achieve a dynamic, flexible and adaptable method to the unforeseen, that allows to solve the problems that arise.
  • Propose a plan that is measurable and correctable in terms of effectiveness.

Good planning lays the groundwork for other administrative processes , such as organization, management and control.

  1. Strategic planning process

Strategic planning
Once the goals have been established, an analysis of the available resources should be carried out.

Planning is considered the first stage of every productive cycle  and this always starts from the definition of strategic objectives. This is the name of the nuclear, central objectives, upon which the organization is based, that is, the primary goals without which all effort is meaningless and which, in turn, allows other subsequent goals to be achieved.

Once the goals have been established, an analysis of the available resources (material, human, technological, etc.) and of the environment variables (the challenges, the difficulties, the competition , etc.) must be carried out. The consideration of these elements is essential for any strategic planning process since strategies cannot be undertaken for which resources are not available, nor should it be wasted or ignored the potential present in the organization, even at its starting point.

Once the strategic analysis is completed , a basic plan or a minimum strategy should be designed , which can be complexed as the needs of the organization so require. For this, the main plan must be segmented into low-level operations, that is, short-term goals, easy to see and conceive over time, whose articulation generates the long-term plan. This process of translation into concrete actions is known as strategic execution.

Finally, the process must be controlled and subjected to diagnostic dynamics and strategic evaluation, to know how closely its results approximate what was initially projected and where the failures, difficulties or challenges are and how they can be solved to obtain greater efficiency and optimal results

In summary, the strategic planning process consists of:

  • Define or review the values, mission and vision of the organization.
  • Carry out an environment analysis.
  • (Re) define long-term strategic objectives.
  • Develop a strategic action plan to comply with them.
  • Develop short-term procedures and actions that lead in the direction of the goal.
  • Evaluate the result and reapply the method.
  1. Importance of strategic planning

Strategic planning
Strategic planning makes decisions evaluating possible risks.

On many occasions in life, the difference between success and failure will depend on the strategy implemented . And in that sense, strategic planning becomes a very important organizational tool.

While no plan is infallible, the best plans are those that start from a thorough evaluation of the resources available, the challenges that will be faced and other factors involved in decision making . It is not about foreseeing the future but about taking forecasts:  assessing risk and walking safely  so that the journey towards the goal is as productive and efficient as possible. What is the use of investing efforts in a path that does not lead to the desired goal? What is the use of investing resources in foreseeing impossible, leaving other real risks to neglect ?

Strategic planning is thus imposed in the financial and business world as the heart of decision-making , as well as the diagnosis and resolution of problems . That is why many organizations rely on third parties ( outsourcing ) to carry out this type of intervention and receive help to redirect their efforts to obtain more and better results.

  1. Strategic Planning Models

Strategic planning - strategic map
The strategic map is useful for communicating the strategic plan of the organization.

There are several conceptual models for thinking or defining strategic planning, each one endowed with ways of representation and more or less didactic procedures. The best known of these models are:

  • Balanced scorecard. From four areas of interest, understood as independent but interconnected cards, it allows defining the functioning of an organization. These four areas are: the financial perspective, the client perspective, the process perspective and the learning and knowledge perspective (control). Each strategic card sets out the strategic objectives of rigor and the issues to which particular attention should be paid. So you have a global look at the strategy of the organization.
  • Strategic map. Designed as a hierarchical organizational chart , useful for communicating the strategic plan of the organization, contemplating the same four areas of understanding of the previous example: finance, client, internal processes and control. From each one, the link lines that determine in a kind of family tree come first, what comes first and what comes next, and what depends on who in terms of resources or processes.
  • SWOT analysis. Of very common use in various areas, its name comes from the acronym of the four elements that it seeks to evaluate in any organization: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The first two concern the internal and the last two the external, which draws a rather didactic grid of the strategic situation of the organization and allows future design.
  • PEST analysis. Its name comes from the words: politics, economics, sociocultural and technological. These are the four strategic areas proposed by this model to understand any organization. This analysis is ideal for industrial environments and usually represents these four factors through concatenated circles (since they depend on each other in many ways).

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