Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 7

My previous post in this series outlined the preferred answers to questions 12 and 13. This final instalment wraps things up with the answers to questions 14 and 15.

Question 14:

Are the supporting initiatives of your plan goals adjusted to account for seasonal peaks and valleys?

A “yes” answer here is preferred. In addition to attuning the many competing priorities of the business to the realities of financial budgets, the planning process must take into account the relevant business economic cycles within the business. Economic cycles, or ecocycles as we call them, will positively or negatively affect market conditions, access to capital, energy, focus and many other factors that will otherwise inhibit or accelerate goal achievement.

While operating budgets are annual in nature, ecocycles are more sporadic and are usually seasonal to the business. Planning for ecocycles builds an added layer of realistic contingency into the plan. Ecocycles are not only financially related, but also affect the organisation’s energy and focus to work on plan goals.

To the extent that these ecocycles are known and understood, they should be accounted for within strategic and operational plans. A review of trend data for previous years can help identify the peaks and valleys that will serve as predictors and be leveraged into the plan.

By reflecting the general timing of ecocycles in the resulting plan, we’ve built in a reasonableness factor that can also be thought of as contingency to allow for the inevitable swings in activity associated with seasonal activity. We’ve also built in the opportunistic and responsive dimensions to planning by allowing for available slack (agility) to exist within the business operations to seize on opportunities without missing plan deadlines and compromising on goal achievement.

Question 15:

Does your organisation have a strategic planning office or formal strategy governance structure?

The preferred answer to this question is, of course, “yes”. While there may be any number of ways to administer the execution of the corporate planning process and overall execution of the strategy, rest assured that if everyone is left in charge, no one will be in charge.

Monitoring and controlling is a concept from Project Management 101, and managing the many initiatives that support strategic plan goals falls under the general classification of governance. Strategic plan governance, whether implemented as a formal plan management office or administered through a less formalised committee structure, should be responsible for the functions of selecting, managing and measuring everything entering or within the plan portfolio.

Governance provides a method to view strategic-plan-related initiatives to be grouped into related programmes for synergistic reporting and management activities. The plan portfolio is the overall macroscopic view of all programmes and initiatives involved with strategy implementation.

A complete strategic governance model assesses all dimensions of the planning process itself, as well as the execution of the plan. Such a model addresses plans for risk management, transformation, change and communication, and monitoring and controlling.

If you missed any of my previous posts in this series, catch up here:

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 1

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 2

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 3

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 4

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 5

Your 15-point strategic planning checklist – Part 6

For clarification of any of the points covered in these posts, email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.