Steps to Implement a Strategic Plan
The goal of a strategic plan is to bring focus to the day-to-day activities involved in running a business by providing a blueprint the team can follow to meet customer expectations. Implementing the strategic plan and using the plan to manage the business helps lead to success.
Very few companies actually use a strategic plan to operate their business, however, because it can be difficult to implement. Without implementation, the plan will remain a collection of words and the benefits to the business will be lost. Implementation takes focus, dedication and constant follow-up to succeed. The key is to be proactive, and to tie company and employee performance to the plan.
Set measurable goals. Establish goals, objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the organization and individual departments. A KPI is a critical performance-based measurement.
For example, everybody wants 100-percent on-time delivery, but this may be unrealistic due to factors out of our control. Setting an on-time delivery goal of 98.5 percent is a fair option. Do this with every established KPI/measurable and write it down. Then track performance and compare the results to the goals and objectives.
Once corporate goals and objectives are defined, middle management should provide its goals and objectives based on the corporate ones, and then negotiate with management on the final departmental goals and objectives.
Demand accountability. Management must hold middle management accountable for its actions and the results of its efforts, and then middle management must hold its staff accountable for its actions.
Results are what count, and by establishing quantifiable goals and objectives for the company and the people, results can be measured. Quantifiable means those goals and objectives are definable with numbers and thus measurable. The output will be numbers-based instead of thoughts- or feelings based.
Examples of quantifiable goals for this year could be “Increase sales 20 percent in our three main markets,” “Increase margin 5 percent on product line A” and “Reduce inventory dollars by 25 percent.” Each goal will demonstrate progress because each one is definable, measurable and trackable. Keep in mind that, in order for goals and objectives to be achievable, they also need to be realistic.
Follow up. Once the goals, objectives and KPIs are established and communicated to the team, the next and most important step in the process is follow-up. This step is accomplished through managing, mentoring and driving change. It is a time for leadership and communication, which play key roles in implementing a strategic plan. Leadership is what separates winners from losers. Winners take what the numbers tell them and proactively use the results to drive the business. Leaders tie the results to performance and make the changes needed to stay ahead of the competition. Leaders play the game to win.
Write the plan. Develop the measurables, share the plan and the measurables with the team, and establish the expectations. Manage, mentor and follow up to proactively drive the process. Lead the team and continuously make adjustments to the strategic plan and its implementation, staying focused on the results. Before long, there will be a new tool that guides the business: the strategic business plan.
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