Writing a good strategic plan can be challenging, but the results are evident in the form of goal-driven focus and direction. Fortunately there are plenty of good resources available to help the formulation process.
There are plenty of free guides to writing strategic business plans. These can be a useful starting point, and serve as an excellent introduction to strategic planning.
Be wary of over-reliance upon generic guides in place of a comprehensive, personalised plan. They might not be:
- Specific to the unique needs of your industry
- Created by authoritative experts
- Reflective of the latest developments
However, they are a good place to begin. Use a recognised source such as Forbes or Business Insider for the most authoritative results.
Be cautious about videos that:
- Promote the ideas of a guru rather than the mainstream
- Are school or university projects that have been published online
Videos are an ideal way of quickly browsing through the key ideas and getting access to numerous examples.
3) Books and articles
There is a wealth of books and articles on this topic. One of the benefits is that books and articles tend to be highly specific to each industry or circumstance. Use a resource such as Google Books to start your search and refine the parameters to suit your needs.
Watch out for books that are:
- Out of date. Google has an on-going problem with recording books by the year they were added to the search inventory rather than the year they were actually published. Double check the ISBN number with the British Library database if you’re not sure.
- Too niche to be relevant to your circumstances
- Promoting an unusual strategic approach rather than the tried-and-tested mainstream
4) Business consultants
Business consultants are experienced at strategic planning guidance. Aside from the value of a second pair of eyes, business consultants can help by helping to create a tailored plan rather than an off-the-peg solution.
When selecting a business consultant, check for:
- Experience – the more the better
- A philosophy that falls in line with your own
- Their approach
- Additional support
Don’t be afraid to shop around to find your perfect match. It’s also useful to find a consultant who is able to respond to your strategic needs practically as well as theoretically. For instance, companies such as Clearview offer bespoke software solutions to ensure that targets can be tracked and managed and offers training to ensure that the software works to your advantage.
Clearview can also provide consultancy for:
- Training on the strategic planning process
- Strategy audits – we’ll assess your plan and provide a recommendations report on any gaps or improvement opportunities
- Away day strategy planning workshop facilitation
5) Industry specialists
Talking to someone who knows the ins and outs of your industry is a valuable asset. This might be a business consultant who focuses on a specific area, or it might be an experienced investor, network contact, or independent specialist. Each industry has unique needs when it comes to strategic planning and being advised on these – rather than learning them the hard way – can save headaches.
Can software help?
Our Performance and Strategy Suite helps by giving you a clear view of organisational strategy. At Clearview we combine business consultancy and industry specific expertise with advanced tools that can help you to succeed. For more information, please download our free Guide to Best Practice in Performance Management.
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