Strategic planning is a huge field. There are so many different tools, schools of thought, and ways of working that it can be difficult to keep track. Choosing the right tools for your strategic planning can be difficult.
Below are 11 of the most popular and powerful planning tools. How many have you heard of and how many are you comfortable using?
Among the most popular and common strategic planning tools, the SWOT Analysis is a fundamental tool to any planning activity. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats are the most fundamental data points that need to be looked at. Once the information is gathered, the team should come together to review and prioritize each of these categories. This gives the team, and the entire company, the focuses under each category to move the organization forward.
In the process of strategic planning, a competitive analysis is at the core of every business plan. Using a close and detailed view of your competitors, you’re able to emphasize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Surprisingly, this is one of those things that most small and medium-sized businesses don’t do well. Often, the leadership assumes that they know their competitors well, but there is always something that you’ve missed that can be used to your advantage. This is particularly true of startups that have spent a lot of time looking at their competitors, but never really as competitors.
A goals grid is a simple, but powerful, way of looking at your organization. It starts with a look at what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and, just as important, what you’re not doing. Once you have a comprehensive list of activities and the relationships between those activities. All of this is put into a simple 4-sector grid: Achieve, Preserve, Avoid, and Eliminate.
No matter what you sell, a product or a service, you have a supply chain. A supply chain analysis is an important part of ensuring that you have what you need when your customers want to buy it. The analysis is nothing more complex than looking at each stage of your supply chain and making sure that those stages are reliably available and efficient.
In 1980, Michael Porter introduced his Five Forces Model. Requiring no more than simply placing the right data in the right place, this one of the most powerful tools available for knowing where you’re at and where you need to go. The forces that Porter has you look for are: competitive rivalry, supplier power, buyer power, threat of substitutes, and threat of new entry. A close look at each of these five forces and the relationships between them is one of the best ways to position your business well.
A mind map has become so common that it scarcely needs explanation. Gathering disparate ideas and analyzing how they fit together is what a mind map is for. Start with a single question or idea, then begin to build out from there until you have found your answer or the source of your problem.
The Ansoff Matrix Method looks at your company’s growth opportunities based on internal and external forces. By analyzing this information, one can also look at alternative strategies that can be put in place for your company’s growth.
Using a balanced scorecard, one can look at how your strategic planning is executed and how successful it is. By placing opposing categories on a scorecard, you can ensure that your focus is on the things that you can change.
Similar to a SWOT Analysis, the PEST Analysis is a look at the external forces that can affect your firm’s success. It looks at Political, Economic, Social, and Technological influences on your business. While these forces are not under your control, a close and honest analysis of them can allow your firm to have the agility and planning in place to adjust to changes.
PESTLE Analysis is a bit more expansive than the PEST Analysis. It includes Legal and Environmental Issues. For some firms, such as manufacturers and exporters, the two additional fields of influence can have a huge impact on the success or failure of their business.
A frequent tool in the IT world, scenario planning is nothing more than running a “what if?” discussion. Once you have done most of these other analyses, you need to run scenarios to discuss how to handle things. No different than what you do with your family in case of a fire, a scenario planning is way to look at potential worries and possible solutions.
These are 11 of the most basic and powerful strategic planning tools, but they are by no means a complete list. Taking the time to master just these 11 tools can make a huge difference in the success of your enterprise.