A Complete Guide to Strategic and Financial Planning

Planning is a primary necessity for success in all domains. It is thus very important for entrepreneurs who aim for success in their business. Nevertheless, it is not just a question of planning in a haphazard manner but doing this in a strategic way which reduces all risks of failure in the business. So understanding the processes of a strategic and financial planning should be the interest of every entrepreneur. Before moving on it is essential to look at the importance of planning.

Experts in the field together with non-profit leaders have broadly agreed over time that strategic planning is a critical component of good governance and management. Planning strategies assure that an organisation remains completely responsive and relevant to all the needs of its community and also greatly promoting growth and organisational stability. In addition, a proper strategic planning not just helps facilitate new program development but also enables an organisation look in to the future in a systematic and orderly way. Strategic planning from a governance perspective enables the board to set goals and policies aimed at guiding the organisation and providing a clear focus to the Executive Director together with Staff for proper agency management and program implementation.

So many organisations today do understand the need for a Program-focused work plan together with annual program objectives. All founders require them to use as basis for setting priorities, organizing their work and accessing the progress of activities. Annual objectives operating plans are highly required by a good number of Hispanic Community-based organisations who often go beyond founder requirements. The annual objectives which they require often include a systematic plan for resource development, board development and organizational developments. Defining objectives for a 12-month period is found practical for most groups. The objectives are used to design programs and strategies to meet them as time passes by.

Strategic planning therefore outstands as a process through which leaders of an organization determine what it really intends to be in the future and how it can practically get there. In another angle of view strategic planning has to do with the development of the visions of an organization’s future thereby determining the necessary priorities, strategies and operations to achieve them. The business strategic plan includes a good number of measurable goals which are all realistic and also attainable with time. The business strategic plan assumes that certain aspects of the future can greatly be influenced or even changed by the organization. Planning strategies are continous and are the processes that have to do with the confrontation of difficult choices, self-examination and the establishment of priorities.

A good strategic planning process
There exists so many different action steps and models for strategic planning each presenting its own planning strategies which are not quite different from the other. Below is a complete approach which has been explained in details and in an easily understandable way. It is an outstanding approach which assumes cooperative effort between staff and Board together with a special strategic planning committee of Board members together with staff all taking responsibility for all the effort. In the committee most of the work can be done even though Board and staff planning sessions are required both in the early and late stages of the planning process.

Step1: All agree on a strategic planning process
With all key staff present this step can be done at a Board meeting or done at a special meeting or retreat in association with Board and external stakeholders.
Bring more light and understanding to what strategic planning is and how it is taken upon.
In order to provide a common vision and focus, discuss in details its potential values to the organization so as to finally reach agreed-upon strategies and goals.
The cost of carrying out strategic planning should be considered in terms of Board and staff time together with other resources and what it will truly be given up to make a strategic plan. If an organisation is in financial difficulties or crisis it will not be wise to take on strategic planning until the immediate problem is completely addressed.
Establish responsibilities for the various steps in the planning strategies process after agreeing upon a process to be taken.

Step 2: Carryout an environmental scan
A proper environmental scan helps provide a better understanding to how the organization relates to its external environment. Generally the scan has to do with identifying, assessing threats and all opportunities in the external environment which represent the external component. The scan also touches an internal component which is the strength and weaknesses of the organization. An expert can be hired to take on the environmental scan. This particular process is what is often referred to as SWOT that is Strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In order to identify the threats and opportunities facing the organization the external component of the organisation should include in a detail way the review of the target or service community and a much broader environment on which the organisation operates. This might possibly include the following;
A high consideration of forces and trends should be made in the broader community, economic, social and at times even technological. Planning strategies should be developed at changing political trends, community values, economic trends, together with the implication of changing new laws and regulations which are affecting the organisation and technological trends.
The strategy process should look kindly at the immediate target community or the service area, the current and potentail clients and the beneficiaries of all organisations services to make a determination of its status and present needs.
The strategy process should take into consideration all challenges and opportunities which are related to the funders and resources.
A look should be made at all actual and potential collaborators together with competitors not forgetting organisations which might serve the same neighbourhood or possibly seek funds from the same funding source.
A good number of approaches or components as presented below can include the internal component which has to do with the scan of the organization’s strength and weaknesses.
You can access current organizational performance in terms of human resources and financial resources, operating methods together with results. If the organization is not in possession of extensive objective measures of its own outcomes, then perceived performance can be partially determined by asking the clients and stakeholders. It is important to checkout on how stakeholders together with clients view the organization so as to better know where improvements are needed. For such interviews are best conducted to get frank and sincere answers. This is very useful in making a good business strategic plan as it helps know what the clients are waiting from the goods or services offered by the business. This is a process which reveals the weaknesses and strengths of the business.
Identifying critical success factors for the organisation is quite valuable and very useful even though it is not often included in strategic planning. It is vital researching on the factors which are necessary for future and continuous success of the organisation. Some of these factors could likely be relationship with target community, program strategies, resources, governance structure together with staff skills.
The organization might possibly want to formalise or review operating principles and organizational values. This is because so many organisations have written down principles and values which direct their ongoing activities together with decision making. This is of great help in defining the organisation.

Step3: Identifying key issues, choices and questions to be addressed as part of the strategic planning
This has to do with specific issues and specifying questions which the organization should quickly address or could possibly deal with setting of priorities in terms of importance or time. This is to address all little disagreements about priorities by just moving to the organization’s goals and visions for reference whenever need arises. This can be done in the following outstanding ways;
From the environmental scan, the Board and staff could possibly be asked to identify strategic issues. Nevertheless, individuals are also given the opportunity to identify a specific number of these issues, giving reasons why each is strategic; the benefits of addressing the issue and consequences of failing to do so.
Strategic issues evolving from the environmental scan can possibly be identified by the planning group or the consultant working with the group. After picking them out, they are then prioritized in terms of importance, time and feasibility. Such results should absolutely be a set of strategic issues which are going to be addressed as part of the strategic planning process for a better outcome. Nevertheless, a second set of strategic issues can be considered by the Board but not addressed.  

Step 4: Review or define the organization’s values, mission and community vision
The reason why the organization was created should be made known together with its objectives, aims and goals for a specific time. On beginning strategic planning the following should be highly considered and agreed upon.
For any strategy process to make a success, operating principles are supposed to be discussed and agreed upon. These are principles that guide the organisation in each and every step it takes. These are values which are shared by Board and staff, strongly held and not easily changed or turned around by any party.
The community vision should be highly considered too which stand as your image of what the community you serve would be like if all your values were shared and practiced by all.
The mission of the organization does counts very much as it stands as the purpose for the organisation’s existence. Once the purpose of existence is well known and understood by all then success is more likely to be obtained in the organization.

Step 5: Develop a series of goals
Another strategy process is developing goals or the organization’s status statement which does give a description of the organization in a couple of years to come. It is of great importance to transform the organization’s vision into a series of goals to achieve after a given period of time. This is preferably done in the form of status statements which are describing the organization. Goals can cover the following categories;
Institutional developments

Step 6: Develop a work plan
Another vital strategy process has to do with the development of an action plan which is aimed at addressing all the organization’s goals together with its specific objectives on an annual basis. For after the goals have been set down it is time to develop a specific work plan for implementation.

Step 7: Finalizing a written strategic plan
Once a written strategic plan that summarises the results together with decisions of the strategic planning process has been made, it is high time finalizing it for the success of the organisation.

Step 8: Flexibility
It is of great importance to build in procedures which are aimed at monitoring and modifying strategies based on changes in the organization or external environment. By so doing improvements to the reach goals is monitored regularly and adjusted whenever need arises.
The financial section of the plan remains the largest section of any business strategic plan. Included in the financial section is the cash flow statement, balance sheet and income statement. When it comes to new businesses, the financial statement is simply a projection whereas for already existing businesses this will include so many years of experience and projections. However a business strategic plan is a guide which is aimed at directing the basic staff of the business in rightly conducting the financial aspects of the business. The financial strategy of the business should detail the collections plan for better functioning.

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