Management is greatly about foreseeing and shaping the future. It is about anticipating the future. That is why budgeting and overall business planning are important for the business success.
They allow to project the business into the future. Strategic planning is about setting the objectives and defining the means to achieve these objectives. Usually it is a quite repetitive process. As in the course of a realistic and conservative planning process it might be realized that the objectives are to stretching and unachievable within the specified timeframe and with the available resources.
The core of the strategic planning process is to create a plan that allows to achieve the desired time specific objectives with available recourses. Good plan should balance time, quality, scope and resource (people, money, etc.). I.e. if the desired scope and quality cannot be achieved with the available resources by the stipulated time then either additional resources should be acquired, time should be extended, and scope changed or quality sacrificed.
Good strategic plan should define the objectives that should be achieved by specific time and define the actions that should be taken to achieve these objectives. Recourse planning (people, production capacity, finances, eternal resources, etc.) is an important part of this process.
In the course of strategic planning the following areas should be covered:
· External environment. Classic example is PEST analysis framework which looks at political, economic, social and technological current and anticipated situation. Within this context some thoughts might be given to legislative, tax, environmental and other external factors which might affect the business
· Internal (resources which covers people, finances, latest performance, production resources, etc.)
· Industry and competition. Porter five forces model might be useful in this analysis
· Business brand/product portfolio assessment
· Vendor/business partners assessment
· SWOT analysis might be performed
Once the analysis is performed the future objectives might be drafted based on the thorough understanding of the past and future trends, resources, competitive dynamics, and possible changes in the external and internal environments. It is important to be conservative in sales number estimation and allocation of proper resources to deliver these sales projections. It goes hand in hand, in order to sell 1000 widgets certain resources should be used to produce 1000 widgets, job should be done to sell them, certain overhead resources such as office rent, bookkeeping, phone, transportation expenses should be incurred. Sales and expenses should be matched in financial projections. Strategic plan should tell when and what kind of resource to acquire, what to do in order to achieve the objectives.
The plan is not cast in stone once and forever. It is absolutely important to be methodical, persistent and follow through. However, the plan should be constantly amended to reflect new relevant, material information and make sure that time, resources, scope or quality of what the business is intended to accomplish are still in the balance.
or if you are serious about the strategic planning try Michael Porter, Henry Mintzberg or Gary Hamel.