Deciding when to carry out the strategic planning process depends on the nature and needs of the organisation and its immediate external environment. For example, planning should be carried out frequently in an organisation whose products and services are in an industry that is changing rapidly.
In this situation, planning might be carried out once or even twice a year and done in a very comprehensive and detailed way (with attention to mission, vision, values, environmental scan, issues, goals, strategies, objectives, responsibilities, time lines, budgets, etc).
On the other hand, if the organisation has been around for many years and is in a fairly stable marketplace, then planning might be carried out once a year and only certain parts of the planning process, for example, action planning (objectives, responsibilities, time lines, budgets, etc) are updated each year.
Consider the following points when deciding if a strategic plan is appropriate :
1. Strategic planning should be done when an organisation is just getting started. (The strategic plan is usually part of an overall business plan, along with a marketing plan, financial plan and operational/management plan.)
2. Strategic planning should also be done in preparation for a new major venture, for example, developing a new department, division, major new product or line of products, etc.
3. Strategic planning should also be conducted at least once a year in order to be ready for the coming financial year. The strategic planning process should be conducted in time to identify the organisational goals to be achieved, at least over the coming financial year, resources needed to achieve those goals, and funding needed to obtain the resources. These funds are included in budget planning for the coming fiinancial year. However, not all phases of strategic planning need be fully completed each year. The full strategic planning process should be conducted at least once every three years unless the organisation is experiencing tremendous change.
4. Each year, action plans should be updated.
5. Note that, during implementation of the plan, the progress of the implementation should be reviewed at least on a quarterly basis by the board. Again, the frequency of review depends on the extent of the rate of change in and around the organisation
Benefits of Strategic Planning
Strategic planning serves a variety of purposes in an organisation, including to:
1. Clearly define the purpose of the organisation, and to establish realistic goals and objectives consistent with the mission, in a defined time frame, and within the organisation’s capacity for implementation
2. Communicate those goals and objectives to the organisation’s stakeholders
3. Develop a sense of ownership of the plan
4. Ensure the most effective use is made of the organisation’s resources by focusing the resources on the key priorities
5. Provide a base from which progress can be measured and establish a mechanism for informed change when needed
6. Listen to everyone’s opinions in order to build consensus about where the organisation is going
7. Provides clearer focus for the organisation, thereby producing more efficiency and effectiveness
8. Unites staff/employees and the board of directors