Developing a Strategic Plan:
11 Questions To Ask Yourself
September 26, 2011
As a business consulting company, we talk about planning a lot with our clients– planning fiscal year budgets, planning product launches, planning the next big strategy that will save time and money. Planning is always a top priority.
Dwight Eisenhower said it best – “Plans are Nothing, Planning is Everything.” We feel strongly that the way you plan a project will directly determine the likelihood of its success. As we roll into a new season many of our clients are eyeing new planning cycles so I thought now was a good time to share our perspective on successful planning, and some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re balancing pressing priorities without losing sight of the long term strategy.
The Top 11 Questions to Ask During Planning:
- Is the information in the plan reliable and validated?
- Are the basis of the decisions to move the project forward transparent and logical?
- Does everyone have the information they need to make a decision and take action?
- Have you taken a step back and reviewed if all aspects of the plan are moving forward as you had anticipated?
- Have market conditions shifted that could impact the plan?
- Does the plan simplify the prioritization process for the senior executive team to make decisions?
- Does the plan provide insight into key investment areas that can add value to the bottom line?
- Does the plan enable you to prioritize and de-prioritize on a common objective to realize optimum results?
- Does the plan have realistic estimates, coupled together with proper resources to know what compromises need to be made, and their consequences?
- Does the plan contain measurements and benchmarks to validate the tactics you recommend?
- Does the plan demonstrate that you’ve thoroughly considered all aspects of the project?
Often times, it’s difficult to allocate the time to asses all the various elements of a plan so that only the worthwhile and relevant pieces are moved forward to the execution phase. This sounds obvious, but I know there are plenty of ideas and tactics that are included in a well-meaning plan that should never move forward. As part of the work Derflan does, we try to improve the project evaluation process and help our clients prioritize, so it leads to better execution and results down the line.
As we see it, plan creation, plan approval and project prioritization is not a one-time decision, but something that needs to be continually tracked if circumstances change or roadblocks present themselves. So make sure you build in some opportunities to step-back and evaluate if the plan is headed in the right direction, or if it needs to be revamped, or scrapped altogether.
We’ve shared with you our top planning questions. What questions do you find paramount to planning success? I’d love to hear your insights.
Shanaz Diefendorf, president