Strategic planning is one of those things that can make or break your company. In our modern business environment, things evolve so fast that the only organizations that survive are the ones that can read the landscape, understand where the trends are going, and take proactive action to steer the ship in that direction. It’s an art and a science, but one that has a disproportionate impact on your long-term results.
In this post, we’re going to explore 4 different mindset shifts that you can consider to make your strategic planning processes more effective. We’ve seen these paradigms work with our clients and while every business is unique, principles like this tend to lead to more accurate and useful planning capabilities.
Plan across different timescales, understanding the context of each.
One of the most common pieces of advice that you’ll hear in the FP&A canon is that businesses tend to overemphasize short-term plans and don’t spend as much effort on long-term plans. This tends to be true and that’s often because the level of uncertainty within long-term plans can lead to people thinking that they aren’t worth doing. This attitude is a mistake because long-term planning is crucial for a company’s mission – and simply requires a different perspective.
Each timescale of your planning process comes with different contexts, challenges, and benefits. Whether it’s a monthly, annual, or 10-year plan, you should be very intentional about understanding what each timescale can offer you, and where you should focus your attention. A lot of what we do here at Apliqo is to help clients build long-term planning capabilities that are tied to the real numbers to provide as much accuracy as possible. But it’s done with the understanding that we don’t have a crystal ball, and the planning process is as much about forcing introspection and forward-thinking as it is about prediction.
Break down silos between teams.
A strategic plan that isn’t consistently executed throughout the organization is never going to work. It’s hard enough trying to stick to a plan without also having to handle internal conflicts between teams due to misaligned incentives. Unfortunately, that’s where many organizations find themselves because of silos that encourage everyone to run their own race.
By breaking down these silos and implementing a unified plan you can transform how your strategic planning operates. This is challenging of course because of the human element here – there are always tradeoffs. But it’s a battle well worth fighting because by having a holistic perspective you’re much more likely to come up with a strategy that can harness all your internal complexity and manage the various constraints.
Move away from Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft Excel truly transformed business planning three decades ago by providing an intuitive interface and powerful spreadsheets for financial modeling and various other tasks. However, in the modern business world, it hits its limits pretty quickly. The limitations of processing power, static databases, version control, lack of collaboration and more can make a strategic planning process much more frustrating than it needs to be.
Investing in the burgeoning FP&A software industry can supercharge your operations because modern technology offers processing power, dynamic database functionality, and collaborative interfaces in a way that Excel never could. Obviously we’re biased here because this is what we believe in, but we’ve seen it time and time again with our clients. Moving away from an Excel-only culture to a custom tool that works for your company is a game-changer.
Consider more dynamic hiring processes.
When plotting a strategic path forward, you need to account for the human resources that you expect to utilize on that journey. In the past, this conversation has focused mainly on bringing on new full-time resources that possess the skills that you need. However, this approach can be a bit narrow and reduces your agility.
In today’s world, you should be thinking more creatively about how to acquire the human resources that you need to execute on your plan. You might make use of part-time staff, freelancers, contractors, business partnerships, internal transfers, and the like to get the job done. By tying your recruiting to the specific work identified in the plan you can often craft a hybrid approach to hiring that delivers better performance, higher efficiency, and lower costs.
Each of these shifts in mindset can deliver significant returns to your strategic planning capabilities and thus help your business to thrive in an uncertain future. Here at Apliqo, our software solutions are built to encompass these principles and they can become the technological foundations for paradigm shifts in your organization.
To explore how we can help, get in touch today, and let’s take your strategic planning to the next level.