Strategic planning is the process through which many successful companies and individuals make decisions about future goals and the path to achieving them. If you are at all uncertain about what strategic planning is, be sure to read this article on that matter before proceeding any further with this one.
Strategic planning tools are the techniques commonly used to help you and your organization set the clearest goals, choose the most effective means to achieving them, and, in general, ensure substantial progress. These various tools should help with all stages of the strategic planning process.
If you were to place all of these tools in the same order that they are used in, visioning would be the first. This tool is the group effort of deciding on a clear vision for your organization, including its mission and values. This should be done with all individuals who will play any role at all in the success of your organization, to ensure a common understanding among them. Be sure to choose specific goals so that progress can be measured along the way. The simplest way to ‘vision’ is with a large informal meeting where members from all areas of your organization can share suggestions and brainstorm.
When deciding on how it is that you will achieve your organization’s goals, it is essential to take into account both internal and external factors which will affect your course. A well-executed SWOT analysis is, in its own nature, perfect for this. Through looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, you can grasp an understanding of the positive and negative factors which should be accounted for in your plan. For more information about this too, check out our article “What is a SWOT Analysis?”
On a website called PESTLEAnalysis.com, you’re bound to find plenty of information which links back to a good old PEST analysis. PEST analyses, which are also sometimes referred to as PESTLE, STEP, or STEEPLE analyses (depending on how many factors are taken into account) look at various different aspects of the present or future environments of your organization or venture. From the Political factors to the Technological ones, including everything in between, a good PESTLE analysis will reveal everything you need to know about your organization’s circumstances.
If you have identified (or perhaps predicted) any favourable or unfavourable scenarios you might find your organization in, it’s good to have a plan ready for them. This tool will help you to analyse the damage or opportunity that a certain situation may present, and will reveal ways to adjust it as much to your benefit as possible. Thankfully, too, scenario planning is a very simple tool — just ask “what if?”
As a strong external force, competitors in any market can be detrimental to your organization’s own success. If you find yourself coming up against plenty of other similar companies, be sure to carry out some specific competitor analysis, as detailed in our article on the topic.
Which tools you choose to use in your strategic planning is entirely up to you, but will very much depend on what sort of a strategic planning model you have opted for.
These are some of the most effective strategic planning tools you can apply on your own, without requiring too much time or effort. Visioning, various analyses, and a few different sub-plans can go a long way if used properly. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these tools to great success, or if they’ve proved ineffective for you — we’d love to hear!