Strategic planning is an organization‘s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. Various business analysis techniques can be used in strategic planning, including SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats ) and PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis).
Strategies are different from tactics in that:
1. They are proactive and not re-active as tactics are.
2. They are internal in source and the business venture has absolute control over its application.
3. Strategy can only be applied once, after that it is process of application with no unique element remaining.
4. The outcome is normally a strategic plan which is used as guidance to define functional and divisional plans, including Technology, Marketing, etc.
Strategic planning is the formal consideration of an organization’s future course. All strategic planning deals with at least one of three key questions:
- “What do we do?”
- “For whom do we do it?”
- “How do we excel?”
In business strategic planning, the third question is better phrased “How can we beat or avoid competition?”. (Bradford and Duncan, page 1).
In many organizations, this is viewed as a process for determining where an organization is going over the next year or more -typically 3 to 5 years, although some extend their vision to 20 years.
In order to determine where it is going, the organization needs to know exactly where it stands, then determine where it wants to go and how it will get there. The resulting document is called the “strategic plan”.
It is also true that strategic planning may be a tool for effectively plotting the direction of a company; however, strategic planning itself cannot foretell exactly how the market will evolve and what issues will surface in the coming days in order to plan your organizational strategy. Therefore, strategic innovation and tinkering with the ‘strategic plan’ have to be a cornerstone strategy for an organization to survive the turbulent business climate.