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The 4 Steps of Strategic Planning Process

 |  4 Min Read

Strategic planning is a crucial part of any business’s future. The ones best suited to organize strategic planning process are business school graduates. More specifically, MBA graduates. Their finely tuned coursework will help them develop the skills needed to succeed. Graduates from OLLU’s MBA program will know how to develop strategic plans and how to enact them in a number of different fields.

The world’s greatest companies all have one thing in common — vision. The process of achieving that vision is called strategic planning. Even the smallest companies have to engage in some level of strategic planning if they want to create a formidable, enduring business model. Individuals who are interested in business leadership will find that embracing the four strategic planning process steps is an important part of being successful, regardless of the industry they’re in.

So what are the four phases of strategic planning? Continue reading to better understand the process of strategic planning, and learn how business leaders use the four strategic planning process steps to reach their goals.

1. Environmental Scanning

Environmental scanning is the process of gathering, organizing and analyzing information. In addition, it’s a process that surveys and analyzes relevant data to identify opportunities and threats. The goal of this strategic planning process step is to gain a clear understanding of your industry’s current landscape in order to better inform future decisions and achieve your long-term vision.

How a company goes about this process depends on many factors, including long-term goals and size. A large company may decide to form a smaller committee comprised of cross-functional team members, while a small company may limit it to the executive team. Depending on a company’s objectives, this can entail gathering internal and/or external data.

For example, if one of your company’s primary objectives is to improve overall company culture and internal communication, you may want to explore how other successful companies have achieved this — have they adopted new software, integrated more common areas into the office design, or sent out quarterly employee surveys? By identifying existing processes, challenges, and potential solutions, you can begin to formulate a winning strategy.

2. Strategy Formulation

Based on the information gathered during environmental scanning, you should hopefully have a clear picture of what needs to be addressed in order to accomplish your business goals. You can also build on things you found are working well to date. From there, you can begin prioritizing your objectives and formulate individual strategies to address each one. This is also an important time to identify what internal resources and/or funding you may have at your disposal, as well as what resources you may need to budget and plan for.

By the end of this planning process, you should have a list of measurable goals and objectives and a series of steps designed to accomplish each one. Simply put, strategy formulation is the process an organization uses to reach the most appropriate and plausible course of action to achieve its goals.

3. Strategy Implementation

The most important part of implementing a strategy may be communicating it clearly to begin with. The entire company should be engaged and made aware of the company’s long-term vision. Each individual should understand how their role contributes to the bigger picture. Once everyone in the organization — and in particular, stakeholders and owners of specific action items — are aligned, it’s time for “a little less conversation, a little more action.” All the steps outlined during the strategy formulation process should be put into motion during strategy implementation.

4. Strategy Evaluation

Every organization should strive for continuous improvement, and so part of the strategic planning process is taking a moment to monitor and adjust as needed. By implementing checkpoints into your overall plan, business leaders can identify what’s working and what’s not, and pivot accordingly. Strategy evaluation involves setting and adjusting benchmarks as needed, gathering feedback and measuring performance. The results of strategy evaluation can help establish best practices and inform future strategies.

Properly managing the four strategic planning process steps is critical to managing a successful business. During the course of your MBA program, you’ll gain an understanding of the process of strategic planning and learn fundamental skills and techniques for applying the strategic planning process in your current or future business endeavors. If you have any more questions, request more information from Our Lady of the Lake University’s online MBA program.

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