Strategic Planning – setting your priorities

A business's strategy is its long-term plan. The strategy considers where the company is and where it is going. Since there is less information available about the future, the strategy should aim to be more specific about the near future than the distant future. Strategic plans should be broken down into periods of time that sections of the strategy will be implemented in. A strategic plan should include what business and technological goals it is trying to achieve, what periods are operating within it, what status it is at, who is responsible for it, and its duration.

The business and technology goals should explain what result the strategy is aiming for. The goals should be divided based on the type of goal. Business goals include goals like becoming the leader in a specific area. Technological goals include goals like updating all business computers to a new operating system. The goals are important because they describe what the business is trying to achieve with the strategy, and thus, can be used to define future improvements.

The operating periods of the strategy are sub-divisions of the strategy. Each operating period will aim to complete part of the business and technology goals. The periods are important because they are the sections that the strategy is completed in, and can be used to roughly track progress.

The strategy's status is the stage of completion it has progressed to. The statuses should include planning, approved, executing, completed, on hold, and abandoned. These statuses let the business know when the strategy is ready to be implemented, and when it has been completed. Furthermore, abandoned strategies let the business know that the approach was flawed in some way, so that they can determine what the problem was before they try a similar strategy.

The people responsible for the strategy are the people who have to decide what the strategy is and implement it. They are consulted if the strategy changes. Strategies should have a governance team and an owner. The governance team and owner are important because they determine the direction of the strategy.

The duration of the strategy is its start and end dates. These should be defined before the strategy begins and are used to determine if the strategy is proceeding according to schedule.

Once a strategic plan has been created, it can be implemented to add business and technical value to the business. Information about strategies should be retained, so that the business can consider what it has done before when creating new strategies.