In today’s highly-competitive business environment, a firm must have a solid strategic plan in place that not only defines corporate objectives and assesses internal and external situations, but also allows room for periodic adjustments to achieve mission critical priorities.
Traditional components, such as mission and vision statements, and a situational analysis will continue to remain as critical ingredients in building the foundation of a solid strategic plan. The main difference in today’s era, however, is in the supplemental phase, where changes in the business environment often lead to strategic plans being revisited several times over the course of a year.
This is why today’s strategic planning requires a new approach, where it becomes “a year-round job, and not a weekend trip,” according to Greg McDonough, President and CFO at EEI Communications, a firm dedicated to training and staffing communications professionals, and implementation of related services for clients in the government, association and commercial markets.
“We’re dealing with vastly different business dynamics than what we experienced five years ago. Trying to plan on a 5-10 year basis just isn’t realistic any more. This is why we now focus on looking at our business and mid-range strategic plans in 13-week chunks to refresh any changes we need to make, or to keep us aligned with mission critical priorities in today’s highly competitive environment” says McDonough.
By revisiting the company’s strategic plan on a 13-week basis, McDonough’s firm is able to, as he states, “be more nimble, which allows us to remain competitive and shake off any bumps or industry-wide changes, especially when it comes to government spending…By being nimble, we’re able to remain flexible and maintain stronger relationships with vendors, employees and clients.”
Maintaining strong relationships with clients is a critical factor that leads to success at McDonough’s firm. “Because we’re dealing with a different business environment …, I often find myself stressing to our employees and vendors on a more regular basis the importance of a strong relationship with our clients. Keeping strong relationships with our clients and network will often determine how successful we are.”
Also, more often than not, McDonough credits regularly-revisiting the strategic plan as a tactic that leads to stronger team dynamics:
“By working collaboratively with one another to improve a little each day, is what ultimately helps lead our firm to greater performance. A good example is when we took a fresh look at our strategic plan and came to the conclusion that we needed to hire more industry experts. These experts focus on very specific tasks. For instance, we would hire a sales expert for one part of our sales plan, which would be more effective in opening up new doors for business and to keep those doors open.”
McDonough’s unique method of revisiting the company’s strategic plan in 13-week chunks is an approach that companies, more often than not, will continue to employ in years to come. This simple and effective tactic will help companies remain competitive, focus or re-focus on mission critical priorities, build stronger team dynamics and relationships with clients, and be more flexible to “make better strategic decisions on the fly,” as McDonough states.