To many, the words “strategic planning” are just jargon or buzzwords. But strategic planning is crucial for any business seeking longevity. Those that use documented strategic plans grow 30% faster, according to business estimates, and some 71% of fast-growing companies have long-range planning in place, be it a strategic plan or other similar tool.
Still not convinced? Let’s break down three aspects of strategic planning — the benefits, key information needed to set the plan up for success, and steps for implementation. You’ll find that establishing a plan not only puts you in good company with other resilient businesses but is a little easier than you might think.
Understanding the Benefits of Strategic Planning
Behind most successful companies are a group of go-getters — or an individual self-starter — with a vision. Realizing that vision, however, typically takes some level of organization. That’s where strategic planning comes in as a crucial step in bringing that singular vision to life.
Developing your strategic plan and regularly engaging with it yields myriad benefits:
- Serves as a compass keeping you pointed at your goals
- Ensures your resources, capabilities, and circumstances are aligned
- Allows you to heed what’s relevant and ignore what’s not
- Keeps your business proactive — not reactive
- Boosts efficiency in your leadership team
Knowing Your Direction and Goals
The idea behind strategic planning is simple: You should know your business goals, the current status of your company, and what’s specifically needed to achieve your goals. Determining your company’s mission, vision, and values — and ensuring everyone is aligned with them — enables you to set core goals that everyone can support.
With your mission, vision, and values in place, you’re ready to consider your goals. It’s critical that you make your goals SMART:
- Specific — State exactly what you want to accomplish (who, what, where, why).
- Measurable — How will you evaluate and demonstrate the extent to which the goal has been met?
- Achievable — A goal should stretch your abilities but still remain attainable.
- Relevant — How does the goal tie in to your key responsibilities? How is it aligned with your objectives?
- Time-bound — Set target dates or deadlines to guide yourself and your team toward successful and timely completion.
Once goals are established, it’s important to have clarity on the current state of your business. This involves more than budgetary questions. Your business is built on three distinct pillars: culture, operations, and finances. It’s well worth the time to assess your organization through these three lenses — and by tracking the right things.
How’s the business doing? Key performance indicators, or KPIs, can help with that. As quantifiable measures, KPIs play a big role in tracking the status quo and opportunities for improvement as well as providing targets, benchmarks, and insights.
Ten notable KPI metrics that can help businesses assess their culture, operations, and finances:
- Patient mix
- Effectiveness ratio/close rate
- Inbound-call conversion
- Cash flow
- Net revenue
- Practice breakeven
- Average selling price
- Employee retention
- Employee engagement
- Organizational sentiment
Principles abound to help guide the task of strategic planning. But after identifying what you want the business to achieve and exploring the near-boundless metrics that KPIs can deliver, how do you decide what’s specifically needed to accomplish your practice’s unique goals?
The following two points of analysis help get to the heart of your specific needs:
- Gap analysis, which compares your business’s performance to your specific goals. This helps identify any holes or deficiencies needing attention and the steps needed to shore them up.
- Market analysis, which analyzes pricing, prospects, competitors, and other economic elements relevant to your goals to help identify applicable opportunities, needs, and key steps toward your goals.
Building and Implementing Your Plan
We’ve discussed laying the groundwork. Now the rubber meets the road. But before digging into planning the next 12 months of your business, consider this: Your 12-month plan sets up your longer-term plan. Even if it’s in broad strokes, decide how you want the business to look in the next three to five years, and develop your annual strategic plan to drive success.
Some tips for cementing and executing the strategic plan:
- Break down larger goals into targets, which serve as links between planning and reporting. Setting a target gives you a clear picture of next steps. It’s also a more manageable mini goal to aim for. Think of a target as a pit stop that lets you take stock. Have you gotten off track in hitting the main goal? If so, righting the ship is far easier.
- Create standard operating procedures, which allow more efficient duplication and scaling of processes across clinic locations. This not only helps ensure a consistent patient experience but also facilitates training, new-systems implementation, and troubleshooting. Every task and responsibility in your practice should have a process.
- Engage and communicate with the team and stakeholders, making sure everyone understands the plan and their critical role in it. In addition, keeping everyone informed of ongoing progress helps motivate best efforts and reinforce a sense of shared goals.
From strategic planning to team development, patient engagement, innovative efficiencies, and more, proven best practices help you get the most out of your business’s potential. Learn how with Audigy.