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15 ways to turn your strategic plan into a tool

For a strategic plan to become something more than an academic exercise, it has to become something that people use everyday to make business development easier.

Description Strategic plans are vital. But they can’t be the kind of strategic plans that sit on a shelf. Instead, they should set your staff up with what they need to know to successfully identify leads, pursue them, and grow your business. Your strategic plan should be a tool that tells your staff:

  1. What kind of capabilities and offerings to develop
  2. Who their target customers are
  3. Where to target marketing and build relationships
  4. When, where, and how teaming relationships should be part of the mix
  5. What areas they should research to select targets for prospecting
  6. What numbers they need to hit
  7. What strategic outcomes they should strive for
  8. How to embrace trends and changes
  9. When a lead is considered identified, what is required to qualify leads, and what the criteria are for bidding them
  10. How bid/no bid decisions should be made
  11. What their pursuit budgets are and how they should be allocated
  12. What differentiates your company and how it should be positioned
  13. How overhead should be managed, how internal budgets should be allocated, and the company should invest in itself
  14. How methods, approaches, tools, and procedures have strategic impact and how they should flow down
  15. What needs to be done to track progress and verify implementation of the strategic plan

Most strategic plans are written annually, and often updated quarterly. If people are not using and referring to the strategic plan throughout the year, it’s a sign that the plan is not perceived as vital for them to do their jobs. It means the next one you create should be done differently so that it provides answers that people need and adds value to what they do.

If you have to force people to follow the strategic plan, it’s also a sign that something’s wrong. Either there are incentives (financial or otherwise) in the environment that are pulling them in another direction, or else they have conflicting goals. People should want to follow the strategic plan because it makes them all part of the same team, because they share the same compelling vision, and because it’s in their interests.

If people are doing things differently from what it says in the strategic plan, one of them is wrong. Either the strategic plan needs to be updated to reflect reality, or the decision process needs to be updated to incorporate referring to the strategic plan.

The strategic plan should make it easier to get the right kind of business to build the foundation your business needs for the future. It’s not just about driving executive level mandates down to the workers. It’s about giving the workers something that will help them fulfill the executive vision. To be perceived as an asset, it needs to be useful. If you achieve that, your strategic plan won’t just sit on a shelf. Like a map or trusted guide book, people will use and refer to it constantly.

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