Is your strategic plan also functioning as your operational plan?


“Focus not on the day-to-day work, but on the larger impact of the team’s work … Be sure to spend time thinking about your own Goals so you can better help your team understand theirs.”

Is your strategic plan also functioning as your operational plan?


That’s a problem.

Both plans are necessary if you hope to achieve your goals, but they should be kept separate. Strategic planning and operational planning are both vital to an organization’s success. Organizations often use both terms to mean the same thing, but they are not the same. Simply put, your strategic plan shares your vision for the future, while your operational plan lays out how you’ll get there on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

To be a strategically-focused, you need a strategic plan and operational plans.
If you’re thinking, “Great, one more thing I have to do”, continue reading to better understand how this simple process will greatly improve productivity.

Nine out of 10 organizations fail to execute on their strategic plan. This is largely because they do not translate the strategy into a workable operations plan with the necessary tactics correctly identified.

The Strategic Plan

A strategic plan outlines your mission, vision, and high-level goals for the next three to five years along with specific goals, and the major projects, for the coming year. The plan will also identify the metrics required to measure their progress. The anual goals should be further broken down into goals by the quarter.
Since the goals set in the strategic plan are more general and evaluated over a longer period of time, strategic planning typically occurs at the beginning of a year and again each quarter. The strategic plans should be reviewed every month, and at the end of each Quarter, you may need to re-plan the next Quarter depending on the results of the last quarter.


The Tactical Plan

You may also have a Tactical Plan, or have this embedded into your strategic plan or perhaps part of your operational plan. It doesnt really matter where it sits as long as this planning is considered.
Tactical planning occurs after you have created your strategic plan and before the Operational planning. It will describe the steps and actions that must be taken to achieve the goals from the strategic plan.

Here are a few things to consider when developing your tactical plan:

What is the timeline for achieving these goals? Can it be done in a quarter, or even completed in the year?
Are there tools or resources that will be required to accomplish these goals?
What specific actions should be taken to achieve the intended outcome?
Your tactical plan will provide the answers to these questions to help you meet the objectives of the strategic plan.
Who will be responsible for measuring the progress?

The Operational Plan

An operational plan is a detailed outline of what your team will focus on for the near future. The plan will identify who, what, when, and how regarding daily or weekly tasks. The strategic goal may be split into several smaller chunks and worked on separatly at this stage.
Relationship Between Strategy and Operations
Even though strategic and operational objectives are substantially different, it is important to recognize that they are closely related. An organization is unlikely to achieve a strategic objective if it fails to effectively translate it into workable operational objectives. At the same time, operational objectives should be aligned to the strategic objectives, or the reason for doing the work should be challenged.
Put simply, strategic objectives only become useful when translated into operational objectives and operational objectives are only effective when designed to serve a strategic objective.


Planning

Having the right people in the room no matter what type of planning you are doing is key. This is especially true when you need to adjust tyour strategic or operational plans because of an unexpected change in the operating environment.

Budget planning

The budget for your strategic plan comes from a strategic budget, not the operational budget. You should implement a Strategic budget that aligns part of your budget directly to your strategic projects or initiatives.

The budget for your operational plan comes from the annual budget along with the portion allocated to the strategic plan goals. If you need to be cut your budget, you should look at any work that doesn’t align to your strategic plan, or necessary for keeping the lights on, and cut those first, or defer a strategic goal to the next financial year.

Measuring progress

When you report on your strategic plan (Monthly, quarterly and at the end of the year), you will want to look at how your business is performing against its chosen measures. These discussions should remain fairly high-level and not dwell on the details. You are either on track, off track but should recover, or dngerously off track and may not recover.

Your operational reports, on the other hand, outline lots of projects or tasks people are working on. Ideally these should be reviewed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. A quick scrum meeting in the morning, to discuss who is working on what each day ,and a quick re-cap of how the work went for the previous day, is all that is needed for daily reporting. At the end of the week the plan should be reviewed to determine if it is on track or off track, and adjustments made as necessary.


Whether you set personal or business goals, make sure you translate the strategy into a workable operations plan with the necessary tactics correctly identified. Without these clearly defined steps, it can not only be difficult but also discouraging to tackle the goal that has been set.

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