Business Continuity: Strategic Planning
The word “strategy” comes from the Greek strategos, referring to a military general and combining stratos (the army) and ago (to lead).
The primary tasks of strategic management are to:
- understand the environment
- define organizational goals
- identify options
- make and implement decisions
- evaluate actual performance
Long Range Planning
Traditional long-range planning is based on the concept that planning consists of four key steps:
- monitoring selected trends of interest
- forecasting the expected future of those trends (usually based upon extrapolation from historical data using regression analysis or a similar technique)
- goal setting, defining the desired future by setting organizational goals in the context of the expected future
- implementing, developing and implementing specific policies and actions designed to reduce the difference between the expected future and the desired future which in then returns you to monitor the effects of these actions and policies on the selected trends.
These are intended to answer these questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where we going?
- Where we want to go?
- What do we have to do to change where we are going to get to where we wants to go?
One of the major limitations of the traditional long-range planning model is that information about the changing external environment is usually not taken into account systematically or comprehensively. When this omission occurs because of an assumption that “we cannot predict external changes,” long-range planning destines itself to surprise and failure, if only because it locks itself to the information known from direct experience in the past and immediate present.
The environmental scanning model begins with:
- evaluation/ranking: where each potential issue or trend is then analyzed as to the likelihood that it will emerge and the nature and degree of its impact.
- forecasting: focused on developing an understanding of the expected future for the most important issues and trends.
- monitoring : tracking its continued relevance and to detect any major departures from the forecasts made in the preceding stage.
- scanning: the identified areas picked up via monitoring for additional and continued scanning.
Information from the external environment adds important components to long-range planning,
- it identifies new and potentially crucial subjects that should be added to those identified and tracked during monitoring.
- it identifies possible developments that must be used to adjust the forecasts of the internal issues derived from forecasting–specifically,
Strategic Planning combines the two models of planning-long-range planning and environmental scanning thus the interrelated model, the strategic planning process, consists of six identifiable stages and allows information from the external environment in the form of emerging developments to enter the traditionally inwardly focused planning system, with the result of enhancing the overall effectiveness of an organisation’s planning.
Without Strategic Planning the organisation we are in a reactive state where new developments are not anticipated before they force their way to the top of the agenda, demanding crisis management and the latest fire-fighting techniques. Issues are usually defined by others whose interests do not necessarily include those of the institution or its purpose and threats from the external environment not anticipated as early as possible leading to key opportunities being missed or diminished in value.
With Strategic Planning we are able to exercise careful judgment in the orderly and efficient allocation of resources as administrative leadership is focused less on fire fighting and more on fire prevention.