You wouldn’t sail the high seas without a map, particularly if the waters are choppy. By the same token, you wouldn’t go into 2024 without a strategic plan, not after the volatility of 2023.
A strategic plan will do more than just stop you becoming lost at sea. You’ll also get where you’re going faster. According to research from the Project Management Institute (PMI), organizations that prioritize proven project management methodologies waste 28 times less capital, because their strategic initiatives are more likely to meet their objectives.
Where do you start? Let’s dig in.
What is a strategic plan and how do you make one?
A strategic plan is a plan for where you want your company to go and how you’re going to get there. Six things are required to make one:
A vision statement (your North Star)
Measurable goals and objectives
Understanding of your internal capabilities
Understanding of the external landscape
Projects and tasks designed to meet your objectives
A roadmap of work that ties all of the above together
Making a vision statement
Your vision is your North Star, i.e. the thing that guides your people, keeping multiple teams and individuals operating autonomously yet cohesively. It gives everyone a clear sense of direction on how their roles and projects ladder up to the greater goal.
How do you craft a vision statement? You look at the “why” of your organization. Why you exist, why it’s important you exist, why you matter to your team and customers, and why you should be the ones to do what you do.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can distil the answers into a compelling statement, which should be inspirational, understandable, concise, and based on feedback and collaboration with the rest of the team.
Measurable goals and objectives
Your North Star provides the general direction, but goals and objectives are the milestones on the journey.
You can use either SMART goals (specific, measurable, relevant, and time-bound), OKRs (objectives and key results), or a combination of both to develop your goals. An important element of whatever goals you settle on is that they are measurable, so you can track your progress and success against them.
Analyzing your internal and external environment
Goals are one thing, but it’s an organization’s internal and external environment that determines whether they’re achievable. So, you need to look at both in order to decide if there are any circumstances which could impact your plans, and whether any of those things are within your realm of control.
Start with an analysis of your internal capabilities, from your human resources to your budgets to your technological assets and existing processes. Ask questions like:
How much capacity do you have?
Will your tools adequately facilitate your plans?
Is there enough room in the budget for the projects you want to start?
How agile and scalable are your methodologies?
Are those methodologies suitable for the change and growth that lies ahead?
Follow this up with an analysis of what’s happening outside your organization. Use a tool like PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental) to analyze all the factors that could have an impact on your company.
And finally, plan and roadmap your work
Once you have a solid picture of how things stand today, you can start making projects and tasks to match your goals and achieve your vision. And then you can build a roadmap. One that visualizes the alignment between your projects and your goals, and communicates the strategic plan to your department heads and team leaders.
For more detail on strategic planning as we head into 2024 – from crafting your vision and goals to building effective roadmaps – download our Roadmap to 2024: Planning Best Practices guide.