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19 Feb 2015
If you're in business, or in fact in a controlling position in any organisation, the beginning of the year is the right time to be asking yourself these questions:
If you want to do better, or differently than you have been, are you going to hope that things will get better over time? Or are you going to plan for it to be different?
Hope is good, but a plan is better.
Every organisation that wants to achieve it's potential should have a written strategic plan. A comprehensive plan will have 3 components, addressing the following:
1. The Business Plan, which examines where the organisation is now: including the state of the leadership and ownership, the culture of the organisation, it's finances, the staffing, the range of products and services, competition, facilities and equipment etc, and concluding with a summary of it's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
2. Where do we we want to take the organisation? How would we like it to be improved, or changed? What goals can we set?
3. The Strategic Plan: This section sets out the goals, and the strategies. It outlines exactly what we have decided to do about achieving the goals, when we're going to do it, and who's responsible for making sure that it gets done.
It's not uncommon for the challenges facing an organisation to appear to be insurmountable: an overworked owner, surrounded by competition and financial challenges, staffing problems, equipment problems etc etc. The solution is like the elephant problem: "How do you eat an elephant"? Answer: "One bite at a time". And the way to approach such a mammoth task, is to plan it.
In the many years that I have spent working on business development, the more I have come to appreciate that whilst goals and plans can easily be dreamed up, making the plans happen is the hard part. Breaking them into bite sized chunks is part of the solution, and working on one chunk at a time is the other part of the solution. At PKF Francis Aickin we now break our annual plans down into 90 day plans. That way we have a short list of strategies to focus on over a short time frame, and as such we are far more likely to complete the smaller strategy sets than if we try to nibble away at a whole years worth of plans at once.
To summarise, the basic principles of strategic planning are:
1. If you aim at nothing, that's probably what you'll hit.
2. You've got a better chance of achieving a plan if it's a written plan.
3. Plans are far more likely to be achieved if they are broken down into small stages over short time periods.
4. And often, it's best to include an external observer in your brain storming team: someone that can take an objective view, looking in from the outside.
We are frequently asked to assist clients with their Business Plans. We can give advice on content, layout, and process, or as facilitators in client planning meetings. If you need help, don't hesitate to call to discuss this.
For more information on how we can help your business, get in touch