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implementation of strategic plan process

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A Manager’s Guide to Successful Strategy Implementation

Team members discussing business strategy implementation

To address new challenges and business concerns, organizations must constantly monitor, evaluate, and adjust their strategic initiatives. When a new strategy needs to be implemented, it’s typically up to managers to ensure it rolls out successfully.

Whether you’re an aspiring, new, or seasoned manager, understanding the strategy implementation process and how it relates to organizational change is critical to ensuring you can be effective over the course of your career.

Here’s an overview of strategy implementation, as well as a step-by-step guide you can use to more effectively bring about change within your business.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Strategy Implementation?

If you're relatively new to management, you might be wondering what the term “strategy implementation” means.

Strategy implementation is the process of turning plans into action to reach a desired outcome. Essentially, it’s the art of getting stuff done. The success of every organization rests on its capacity to implement decisions and execute key processes efficiently, effectively, and consistently. But how do you ensure that implementing a strategy will be successful?

In the online course Management Essentials , Harvard Business School Professor David Garvin says successfully implementing and executing strategy involves “delivering what’s planned or promised on time, on budget, at quality, and with minimum variability—even in the face of unexpected events and contingencies."

While developing a strategy is one of the first steps to implementing organizational change, the implementation itself is vital to a company’s success. Without an efficient implementation process, even the best-laid plans may not come to fruition.

If you're a manager who wants to implement strategic change within your organization, follow these seven steps to introduce and roll out a new strategy successfully.

7 Key Steps in the Implementation Process

1. set clear goals and define key variables.

The first step of the process is straightforward: You must identify the goals that the new strategy should achieve. Without a clear picture of what you’re trying to attain, it can be difficult to establish a plan for getting there.

One common mistake when goal setting—whether related to personal growth, professional development, or business—is setting objectives that are impossible to reach. Remember: Goals should be attainable. Setting goals that aren’t realistic can lead you and your team to feel overwhelmed, uninspired, deflated, and potentially burnt out.

To avoid inadvertently causing low morale, review the outcomes and performances—both the successes and failures—of previous change initiatives to determine what’s realistic given your timeframe and resources. Use this past experience to define what success looks like.

Another important aspect of goal setting is to account for variables that may hinder your team’s ability to reach them and to lay out contingency plans. The better prepared you are, the more successful the implementation will likely be.

2. Determine Roles, Responsibilities, and Relationships

Once you’ve determined the goals you’re working toward and the variables that might get in your way, you should build a roadmap for achieving those goals, set expectations among your team, and clearly communicate your implementation plan, so there’s no confusion.

In this phase, it can be helpful to document all of the resources available, including the employees, teams, and departments that will be involved. Outline a clear picture of what each resource is responsible for achieving, and establish a communication process that everyone should adhere to.

Implementing strategic plans requires strong relationships and, as a manager, you’ll be in charge of telling people not only how to interact with each other and how often, but also who the decision-makers are, who’s accountable for what, and what to do when an unforeseen issue arises.

Management Essentials - Get the job done. Learn more.

3. Delegate the Work

Once you know what needs to be done to ensure success, determine who needs to do what and when. Refer to your original timeline and goal list, and delegate tasks to the appropriate team members.

You should explain the big picture to your team so they understand the company's vision and make sure everyone knows their specific responsibilities. Also, set deadlines to avoid overwhelming individuals. Remember that your job as a manager is to achieve goals and keep your team on-task, so try to avoid the urge to micromanage .

4. Execute the Plan, Monitor Progress and Performance, and Provide Continued Support

Next, you’ll need to put the plan into action. One of the most difficult skills to learn as a manager is how to guide and support employees effectively. While your focus will likely be on delegation much of the time, it’s important to make yourself available to answer questions your employees might have, or address challenges and roadblocks they may be experiencing.

Check in with your team regularly about their progress and listen to their feedback.

One effective strategy for monitoring progress is to use daily, weekly, and monthly status reports and check-ins to provide updates, re-establish due dates and milestones, and ensure all teams are aligned.

Related: How to Give Feedback Effectively

5. Take Corrective Action (Adjust or Revise, as Necessary)

Implementation is an iterative process, so the work doesn’t stop as soon as you think you’ve reached your goal. Processes can change mid-course, and unforeseen issues or challenges can arise. Sometimes, your original goals will need to shift as the nature of the project itself changes.

It’s more important to be attentive, flexible, and willing to change or readjust plans as you oversee implementation than it is to blindly adhere to your original goals.

Periodically ask yourself and your team: Do we need to adjust? If so, how? Do we need to start over? The answers to these questions can prove invaluable.

6. Get Closure on the Project, and Agreement on the Output

Everyone on the team should agree on what the final product should look like based on the goals set at the beginning. When you’ve successfully implemented your strategy, check in with each team member and department to make sure they have everything they need to finish the job and feel like their work is complete.

You’ll need to report to your management team, so gather information, details, and results from your employees, so that you can paint an accurate picture to leadership.

7. Conduct a Retrospective or Review of How the Process Went

Once your strategy has been fully implemented, look back on the process and evaluate how things went. Ask yourself questions like:

While failure is never the goal, an unsuccessful or flawed strategy implementation can prove a valuable learning experience for an organization, so long as time is taken to understand what went wrong and why.

How to Formulate a Successful Business Strategy | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

Learning How to Oversee Strategy Implementation

Successful strategy implementation can be challenging, and it requires strong leadership and management skills. Effective delegation, patience, emotional intelligence, thorough organizational abilities, and communication skills are crucial.

If you’re looking to build your skills and become a better manager , consider taking a leadership or management course that aligns with your personal and professional goals. Management training courses are often flexible in design but offer critical, hands-on learning opportunities provided by leading industry experts that can be applied to any profession.

Do you want to improve your management skills? Explore our eight-week online course Management Essentials , and learn how you can spearhead initiatives that enable your organization to improve and innovate.

implementation of strategic plan process

About the Author

What is strategic planning? 5 steps and processes

Julia Martins contributor headshot

A strategic plan helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. It includes your company’s vision and mission statements, goals, and the actions you’ll take to achieve those goals. In this article we describe how a strategic plan compares to other project and business tools, plus four steps to create a successful strategic plan for your company.

Strategic planning is when business leaders map out their vision for the organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. Strategic plans inform your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals. So if you work for a small company or startup, you could likely benefit from creating a strategic plan. When you have a clear sense of where your organization is going, you’re able to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. 

The strategic planning process doesn’t just help you identify where you need to go—during the process, you’ll also create a document you can share with employees and stakeholders so they stay informed. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get started developing a strategic plan.

What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is a tool to define your organization’s goals and what actions you will take to achieve them. Typically, a strategic plan will include your company’s vision and mission statements, your long-term goals (as well as short-term, yearly objectives), and an action plan of the steps you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

Your strategic plan document should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your company’s goals

A plan of action to achieve those goals

Your approach to achieving your goals

The tactics you’ll use to meet your goals

An effective strategic plan can give your organization clarity and focus. This level of clarity isn’t always a given—according to our research, only 16% of knowledge workers say their company is effective at setting and communicating company goals. By investing time into strategy formulation, you can build out a three- to five-year vision for the future of your company. This strategy will then inform your yearly and quarterly company goals. 

Do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics. Here’s how a strategic plan compares to other project management and business tools.

Strategic plan vs. business plan

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, consider creating a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

Key takeaway: A business plan works for new businesses or large organizational overhauls. Strategic plans are better for established businesses. 

Strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

As a result, you should already have your mission and vision statements drafted before you create a strategic plan. Ideally, this is something you created during the business planning phase or shortly after your company started. If you don’t have a mission or vision statement, take some time to create those now. A mission statement states your company’s purpose and it addresses what problem your organization is trying to solve. A vision statement states, in very broad strokes, how you’re going to get there. 

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose

A strategic plan should include your mission and vision statements, but it should also be more specific than that. Your mission and vision statements could, theoretically, remain the same throughout your company’s entire lifespan. A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

Key takeaway: A strategic plan draws inspiration from your mission and vision statements. 

Strategic plan vs. company objectives

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

Key takeaway: Company objectives are broad, evergreen goals, while a strategic plan is a specific plan of action. 

Strategic plan vs. business case

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

Key takeaway: A business case tackles one initiative or investment, while a strategic plan maps out years of overall growth for your company. 

Strategic plan vs. project plan

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

A project plan has seven parts: 

Success metrics

Stakeholders and roles

Scope and budget

Milestones and deliverables

Timeline and schedule

Communication plan

Key takeaway: You may build project plans to map out parts of your strategic plan. 

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed. That being said, if your organization moves quickly, consider creating one every two to three years instead. Small businesses may need to create strategic plans more often, as their needs change. 

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process should be run by a small team of key stakeholders who will be in charge of building your strategic plan. 

Your group of strategic planners, sometimes called the management committee, should be a small team of five to 10 key stakeholders and decision-makers for the company. They won’t be the only people involved—but they will be the people driving the work. 

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the strategic planning process. 

[inline illustration] The road to strategic planning (infographic)

Step 1: Determine where you are

Before you can get started with strategy development and define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders—like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether in the product, business practices, or company culture

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 


What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 


What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your goals and objectives

This is where the magic happens. To develop your strategy, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your original business documents—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” This can help you figure out exactly which path you need to take. 

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents to ensure your strategic plan is moving your company in the right direction like:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in

Step 3: Develop your plan

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Your plan will take your position and strategy into account to define your organization-wide plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your strategic plan should be created as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Your company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs for that first year. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Execute your plan

After all that buildup, it’s time to put your plan into action. New strategy execution involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Map your processes with key performance indicators, which will gauge the success of your plan. KPIs will establish which parts of your plan you want achieved in what time frame. 

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Align tasks with job descriptions to make sure people are equipped to get their jobs done

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process 

Fully commit to your plan 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

At this point, you should have created and implemented your new strategic framework. The final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Share your strategic plan —this isn’t a document to hide away. Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to it so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and your overall strategic plan. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management tool .

Update your plan regularly (quarterly and annually). Make sure you’re using your strategic plan to inform your shorter-term goals. Your strategic plan also isn’t set in stone. You’ll likely need to update the plan if your company decides to change directions or make new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan to ensure you’re building your organization in the best direction possible for the next few years.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever—even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

The benefits of strategic planning

Strategic planning can help with goal-setting by allowing you to explain how your company will move towards your mission and vision statements in the next three to five years. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Align everyone around a shared purpose

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go

Define long-term goals, and then set shorter-term goals to support them

Assess your current situation and any opportunities—or threats

Help your business be more durable because you’re thinking long-term

Increase motivation and engagement

Sticking to the strategic plan

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

With clear priorities, team members can focus on the initiatives that are making the biggest impact for the company—and they’ll likely be more engaged while doing so.

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More Like this

Strategic implementation, follow these 6 steps to successfully implement your strategic plan..

What is Strategic Implementation?

Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals. Implementing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than your strategy. The video How to Build a Strategic Plan You Can Actually Implement is a great way to learn how to take your implementation to the next level.

What is a competitive advantage

Critical actions move a strategic plan from a document that sits on the shelf to actions that drive business growth. Sadly, the majority of companies who have strategic plans fail to implement them. According to Fortune Magazine, nine out of ten organizations fail to implement their strategic plan for many reasons:

A strategic plan provides a business with the roadmap it needs to pursue a specific strategic direction and set of performance goals, deliver customer value, and be successful. However, this is just a plan; it doesn’t guarantee that the desired performance is reached any more than having a roadmap guarantees the traveler arrives at the desired destination.

Getting Your Strategy Ready for Implementation

For those businesses that have a plan in place, wasting time and energy on the planning process and then not implementing the plan is very discouraging. Although the topic of implementation may not be the most exciting thing to talk about, it’s a fundamental business practice that’s critical for any strategy to take hold.

The strategic plan addresses the what and why of activities, but implementation addresses the who, where, when, and how. The fact is that both pieces are critical to success. In fact, companies can gain competitive advantage through implementation if done effectively. In the following sections, you’ll discover how to get support for your complete implementation plan and how to avoid some common mistakes.

Get the Free Guide for Agile Implementation & OKR Cycles

Avoiding the implementation pitfalls.

Because you want your plan to succeed, heed the advice here and stay away from the pitfalls of implementing your strategic plan. Here are the most common reasons strategic plans fail:

It’s easier to avoid pitfalls when they’re clearly identified. Now that you know what they are, you’re more likely to jump right over them!

Covering All Your Bases

As a business owner, executive, or department manager, your job entails making sure you’re set up for a successful implementation. Before you start this process, evaluate your strategic plan and how you may implement it by answering a few questions to keep yourself in check.

Take a moment to honestly answer the following questions:

SWOT Basics

Making Sure You Have the Support

Often overlooked are the five key components necessary to support implementation: people, resources, structure, systems, and culture. All components must be in place in order to move from creating the plan to activating the plan.

The first stage of implementing your plan is to make sure to have the right people on board. The right people include those folks with required competencies and skills that are needed to support the plan. In the months following the planning process, expand employee skills through training, recruitment, or new hires to include new competencies required by the strategic plan.

You need to have sufficient funds and enough time to support implementation.  Often, true costs are underestimated or not identified. True costs can include a realistic time commitment from staff to achieve a goal, a clear identification of expenses associated with a tactic, or unexpected cost overruns by a vendor. Additionally, employees must have enough time to implement what may be additional activities that they aren’t currently performing.

Set your structure of management and appropriate lines of authority, and have clear, open lines of communication with your employees. A plan owner and regular strategy meetings are the two easiest ways to put a structure in place. Meetings to review the progress should be scheduled monthly or quarterly, depending on the level of activity and time frame of the plan.

Both management and technology systems help track the progress of the plan and make it faster to adapt to changes. As part of the system, build milestones into the plan that must be achieved within a specific time frame. A scorecard is one tool used by many organizations that incorporates progress tracking and milestones.

Create an environment that connects employees to the organization’s mission and that makes them feel comfortable. To reinforce the importance of focusing on strategy and vision, reward success. Develop some creative positive and negative consequences for achieving or not achieving the strategy.  The rewards may be big or small, as long as they lift the strategy above the day-to-day so people make it a priority.

Determine Your Plan of Attack

Implementing your plan includes several different pieces and can sometimes feel like it needs another plan of its own. But you don’t need to go to that extent. Use the steps below as your base implementation plan. Modify it to make it your own timeline and fit your organization’s culture and structure.


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Hi i like to read these article and i got lots of help about strategy plan thanks

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the implementation plans can assists an organisation in making its strategic efficiently which bust the organisation performance

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Great article , I am an MBA student from kenya and am intending to research on factors that influence the implementaton of strategic plans in kenyan schools . Any idea on the relevant objectives and theories for my theoretical review and framework will be highly appreciated .

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The article has been of invaluable use to me.thanks a lot.I would like to get more articles on strategic Management since I have done an Undergraduate degree in Strategic Management.

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Good outline. My experience suggests that strategic plan ACHIEVEMENT always boils down to: broad understanding; assignability; actionable tasks; measurable elements; and stretch reasonableness. When plans fail, it’s usually because they’re either too esoteric, vague, unrealistic, or lack broad-based employee buy-in. Shorter-term plans, subsidiary plans, budgets, functional assignments, and job descriptions need to support this broader set of goals and objectives. There needs to be regular, ongoing communication and updates. Lastly, (and this makes professional planners uneasy), it’s not just about an elegant process, it’s about translating that vision into an executable framework from which elegant outcomes are actually achieved.

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this is great and I have scooped a lot from it

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Thanks a lot.This article has made me understand better

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Isn’t this from “Strategic planning for dummies”? anyways thanks

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Hi Brian- Our COO, Erica Olsen, wrote the book “Strategic Planning for Dummies” so you will some very similar thoughts here that you would see in the book.

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thanks for the article . it has really helped me answer all my questions keep it up.

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Thanks but can you assist more on why in most cases the strategic planning is regarded as a meaningless ,trivial and mundane ritual in organisations

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I’m very happy reading your article and help much in our project implementaion, hoping that there are still more than this, thanks very much

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The article is very useful for information. Thank you.

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thanks alot for the outline,really impressed though an advise for strategy formulation in a motor vehicle showroom as a new business venture and also implementation of the same.

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This is a very valuable piece. You helped me understand strategic planning and implementation much better. Thanks so much.

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Very helpful information, thank you!

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Strategic Implementation

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You must have noticed that markets change over time. There's an even greater variety of more and more innovative products, and customer behaviour and demand for certain goods and services have changed. Therefore, companies have to change their strategic direction in order to adapt to the new environment.

Strategic implementation plan

What is a strategic implementation plan? S rategic implementation is the process of turning plans into action using a specified strategy. It requires careful planning and project management skills. Strategic implementation focuses on aspects such as time, quality, quantity, and information.

Strategic implementation process

The strategic implementation process includes concrete steps. There is also a document called strategic implementation plan (SIP) which outlines the activities and decisions that are essential for implementing the strategy. There are five strategic implementation steps:

Define your goals

First, the business should identify the goals that the new strategy should achieve. The business needs to be clear about what its goal is, otherwise it will never be able to achieve it. Moreover, it is important to think rationally and s et objectives that are achievable. This will save time spent trying to achieve unrealistic goals.

Do the research

Gathering all the information regarding the project and deeply analysing them. This will allow the organization to understand its needs and evaluate possible opportunities and threats.

Create a strategy

Owing to the research that has been done in the previous steps, the business is now ready to form an appropriate strategy. It is important to determine what the enterprise already has and what else it needs. The business should t hink about how it can look for external resources, t ry to solve any issues and then start formulating the strategy.

Implement the strategy

This is probably the most challenging part of the process as it is the action stage of the strategic management process. Even though the organization might have created an excellent strategy, it still needs to implement it. Managers should make sure that the work is delegated and everyone within the firm is made clear of their responsibilities and duties. What is more, it is important to bear in mind that strategies might not work and therefore might need to be restructured at some point.

Evaluate and control

As a final step, organisations should look back on the entire process and think about how it went and measure the performance. Perhaps some things might have been done better and could be improved in the future. Moreover, even though the organisation might have succeeded it is important to keep an eye on the strategy, m onitor how it is developing and determine whether the enterprise is moving towards the goal.

Network Analysis

Network analysis is a defined plan of strategic implementation. It shows the complexity of a project including the order of activities, their estimated duration and the earliest date of later stages to start.

The analysis is conducted to avoid delaying, minimize resource waste, satisfy customers and increase profitability.

Imagine a barbershop that wants to change its strategic direction by adding a women's haircut to its offer. There are several activities that need to be completed in order to make this happen. For example, the owner needs to do market research to identify if there would be a demand for such a service. Moreover, the staff has to be either retrained or a new staff has to be hired. There is also a need for new equipment in the salon.

Before implementing the plan, the owner has to identify which activity to start with as there is no point in buying equipment if there is no demand for women's haircuts in the market. Also, before retraining barbers or hiring new employees, the new equipment has to be bought. It is also essential to think about the timing as hiring a new hairdresser might take a lot of time whereas ordering new equipment can be completed within a couple of days. All of these activities have to be analyzed and coordinated in order to save as much time and money as possible.

Critical Path Analysis

There are two components of the critical path analysis (CPA):

Activities - requiring time and/or resources,

Nodes - start or finish of an activity.

Each activity is represented by an arrow running from left to right whereas each node is represented by a circle. Lines should not cross each other and nodes cannot be added before an activity ends.

Drawing from the barbershop example, suppose that it has changed its strategic direction and is now offering a women's haircut service. The business is prospering well and the owner decided to expand by opening up another salon within 64 days.

Strategic Implementation, critical path analysis, critical path analysis example, StudySmarter

Based on Figure 1, we can calculate the earliest start time (EST) and the latest finish time (LFT) . While calculating, we need to think about resources that need to be provided and activities which need to be completed before moving on to the next task.

The activities start on day 0. Staff training and salon decoration can start after 40 days, this is when staff is hired and products are ordered. Arranging appointments can start on day 54 (40 + 14 = 54). The earliest when a project can be completed is day 64 (40 + 14 + 10 = 64) . In order to finish the project on time, hiring staff and product orders cannot take more than 40 days. Otherwise, staff training and salon decoration will be delayed. These cannot take more than 14 days because there must be at least 10 days for the appointments to be arranged. Marketing is the only activity that is impossible to be delayed by any other activity. Owing to the latest finish time, we are able to set deadlines which helps us identify the critical path and float time.

Critical path relates to activities that take the most time to complete.

In the case of the barbershop, the longest activities are hiring staff and salon decoration and arranging appointments. If any of these activities is delayed, the entire project will be delayed as well.

Float time (non-critical activities) is the extra time remaining for activities that take less time than others.

Here, ordering products, training staff and marketing. Since hiring staff takes 40 days and ordering products only 7, there is 33 days float time for ordering products. To sum up, total float = LFT - EST.

Strategic problems

Strategies are ways in which companies try to achieve their objectives. Unfortunately, they happen to fail as there are many difficulties regarding strategic decision-making and implementation . Firstly, there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to deciding on what strategy to follow. It is simply hard to decide as it is unpredictable which strategy will be the most successful. Secondly, even if the right strategy has been chosen, it might be hard to make it happen as not everything goes according to plan.

In the case of the barbershop, was the women's haircut a good service to offer? Did the implementation go according to plan?

Planned versus emergent strategy

Planned strategy is an intended strategy based around the planning process. This is when its implementation goes according to the plan and is not interrupted.

Emergent strategy is a strategy that actually happens. This is typically when the implementation does not go according to the plan as certain modifications had to be made to accommodate unplanned changes (ie. changes in the external environment ).

In the case of the barbershop, if everything went according to the plan, that is a planned strategy. However, if something changed, for example, the new salon opened up a week later, that is an emergent strategy.

Strategic drift

Strategic drift is when a strategy has not been adapted to the changing environment and is no longer suitable.

It is typically caused by management distraction which is when managers focus on other, more important things. In this case, they neglect a strategy and do not adjust it to the new situation. Strategic drift relates to opportunity cost which is what a company was able to earn, but it did not.

In the case of the barbershop, for example, if there was no demand for the women's haircut and the strategy was managed well, then perhaps a manager would adjust the strategy and try to open a hair salon for children if there was a demand for such a service.

Evaluating strategic performance

Evaluating strategic performance refers to reviewing the strategy and analyzing its outcome.

It focuses on three main aspects:

market share,

In the case of the barbershop we could answer the following questions:

How much did the profit increase? Did it increase at all?

Did the company gain more market share?

Did the hair salon open up on time?

Value of strategic and contingency planning

It is essential to make a decision on what strategy to implement. However, in order for the decision to be implemented, it also needs to be planned. Strategic planning allows a decision to be carried out and work successfully. It allows a strategy to be planned, not emergent.

Contingency planning is simply a plan B. It is a backup that can be implemented in case something changes and does not enable the initial plan to be implemented.

In the case of the barbershop, if a company planned to fund a new hair salon from its own funds, but it runs out of money, it needs to have an alternative such as borrowing money from friends or taking out a loan.

Managing Strategic Implementation - Key takeaways

Strategic implementation is a process of turning plans into action using a specified strategy.

The five steps of the strategic implementation process are: define your goals, do the research, create a strategy, implement the strategy, evaluate and control.

Critical path analysis (CPA) consists of activities and nodes. Owing to CPA, we can identify the earliest start time (EST) and the latest finish time (LFT).

Critical path relates to activities that take the most time to complete whereas float time is extra time for activities that take less time than others.

Strategies tend to encounter difficulties regarding strategic decision-making and implementation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Strategic Implementation

--> what are the steps of strategic implementation .

The steps of strategic implementation are: 

goal definition, conducting research, devising the strategy, implementation, control, and evaluation. 

--> What is strategy implementation with example? 

For example, a business, specializing in skin-care products wants to produce hair-care products. Before devising strategies, extensive market research must be done. Based on the research, business can devise and implement strategies. 

--> What are the five steps in the strategic planning process? 

The five steps in the strategic planning process are:

goal definition, research, strategy creation, implementation, and evaluation. 

--> What are the strategic problems a business could face?

Strategic drift is one of the problems a business could face. 

Final Strategic Implementation Quiz

What is strategy implementation?

Show answer

As the name suggests, the strategy implementation is simply implementing the strategy. It is a process of turning plans into action. It includes all the activities designed to manage the activities associated with the delivery of the plan.

Show question

What is SIP?

Strategic Implementation Plan. It outlines the activities and decisions essential to implement the strategy.

What are the steps of strategic implementation? 

Defining the goals, doing the research, creating a strategy, implementing the strategy and evaluating and controlling.

What is meant by defining the goals?

It is simply identifying the goals that the new strategy should achieve.

Why is it important to evaluate the strategy?

To draw conclusions and find out what could have been done better in order to perform better in the future.

Give an example of strategy implementation.

It might be for example developing a new marketing plan to help increase sales of the company's products to consumers.

What are the key strategic problems?

Weak strategy, lack of clarification and skills and lack of control and progress tracking.

What is meant by weak strategy?

It is a strategy that simply does not work because the goals which are to be achieved are set wrong. Strategic goals tend to be large, complex and complicated. Also, very often strategies are simply impossible to be achieved and fail despite all the hard work put into them.

How to solve a problem of lack of clarification and skills?

Make sure that all the employees and people associated with the strategy are made clear of their responsibilities and able to fulfill their obligations. They should be familiar with the entire strategy plan and aware of the next steps.

Why should a strategy be controlled?

Sometimes the strategy needs to be slightly changed in order to achieve the goal.

Give a definition of strategic implementation.

What are the five steps of the strategic implementation process?

define your goals 

do the research

create a strategy

implement the strategy

evaluate and control

What does network analysis include?

order of activities, their estimated duration and the earliest date of later stages to start

What are the two components of critical path analysis?

Activities and nodes

What are the nodes in critical path analysis?

Nodes indicate start or finish of an activity

What is EST in critical path analysis?

Earliest start time of an activity

What is LFT in critical path analysis?

Latest finish time of an activity

What does critical path relate to?

What is float time?

Float time (non-critical activities) is an extra time for activities which take less time than others.

How to calculate float time?

total float = LFT - EST

What is the difference between planned and emergent strategy?

Planned strategy is an intended strategy based around the planning process whereas emergent strategy is a strategy which actually happens.

What is strategic drift?

What is opportunity cost?

Opportunity cost is what a company was able to earn, but it did not.

What are the three main aspects one should focus on when evaluating strategic performance?

profit, market share, timescale

What is contingency planning?

Contingency planning is simply a plan B. It is a backup which can be implemented in case something changes and does not enable the initial plan to be implemented.

In critical path analysis, nodes can be added before an activity ends. 

The extra time remaining for activities that take less time than others is called...

float time.

total float = LFT - ?

This is a strategy that actually happens. This is typically when the implementation does not go according to the plan as certain modifications had to be made to accommodate unplanned changes (ie. changes in the external environment). What strategy is it?

Emergent strategy

This is when a strategy has not been adapted to the changing environment and is no longer suitable. What is it?

A company planned to fund a new hair salon with its own funds, but it runs out of money, it needs to have an alternative such as borrowing money from friends or taking out a loan. The company is doing the __ planning.


What does LFT stand for?

latest finish time

Critical path relates to activities that take the least time to complete.

What is the following formula for?

? = LFT - EST

total float 

___ strategy is an intended strategy based around the planning process. 

of the users don't pass the Strategic Implementation quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

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A 3 step process to successful strategy implementation

Discover a simple step-by-step guide to help you effortlessly implement your performance strategy..

Behind every successful business or organization is a reliance on strategic initiatives. From executing a marketing plan to implementing new management software to boost efficiency, a successful strategy can help a business reach its desired goals. 

But what is strategy implementation? Otherwise known as strategy planning execution, it’s turning plans into actions to reach a desired business goal. 

So, how do you ensure it will succeed in corporate strategy? Here, we cover a three-step strategy implementation process. After all, without successful strategy implementation, even the greatest ideas will not come to fruition.

The key steps to strategy implementation 

So, you have a business goal that you need to achieve and a strategy mapped out to get there.

But while developing a strategy is essential to creating change within your organization, the implementation itself is vital to ensuring business growth and success. 

The implementation process focuses on the execution of your well-planned strategy by diving into how targets can be met and addressing the three Ws - "when", "who", and "where". 

Here are the three key steps to successful strategy implementation:

1. Strategy creation 

In simple terms, strategy creation, also known as strategy planning, is the analytical process of selecting the most suitable action to meet your organization’s goals. 

It allows your business or organization to examine and review its resources and environment to create a plan of action. In doing so, your management team can identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses to compete better against competitors and increase profitability. 

Strategy creation can help your business plan for success and make any necessary improvements to strategies when the time comes. It’s, therefore, essential for achieving and measuring goals. 

Once created, you must make your employees aware of the organization’s objectives and goals so you can all work together to achieve them.

2. Strategy deployment

Your strategy sounds great, and your team is working hard, but you do not see the results you expected. 

You might be missing the gap between strategy and execution - strategy deployment. 

This essentially translates your strategy into an execution plan and is an important and often overlooked segment of strategy implementation.

What is strategy deployment?

Strategy deployment is a management process that aligns a business or organization’s functions and activities with its strategic goals. 

The idea originates from the Japanese term “Hoshin Kanri” - ‘hoshin’ meaning ‘direction’ or ‘compass needle’ and ‘kanri’ translating to ‘control’ or ‘administration’. The idea implies ‘direction management’ - setting direction and steering towards it. 

The framework defines the current state, the future state, the changes to be implemented, and the path is taken to achieve the goal. 

The framework aims to steer an organization toward its strategic, long-term objectives and goals while also maintaining and improving existing business processes through organizational alignment and good systemic planning.

Hoshin Kanri was initially developed by Professor Yoji Akao in post-war Japan but has since spread to the U.S. and worldwide, helping employees align long-term goals and decisions in the same direction. 

Strategy deployment involves creating a high-level plan for organizational improvement and using the strategy for a specific purpose, usually to achieve one or more goals. 

Communicating the goals and strategy across your whole organization is essential for everyone to collaborate. 

This should grant autonomy for individual teams and departments while maintaining alignment across the whole organization of the business’ strategy and goals.

3. Strategy execution

You’ve set your goals and deployed your strategy — the third step to ensure successful strategy implementation is execution . 

After all, even the most well-planned strategies can fail without them. 67% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.

39% of leaders say one of the main reasons strategic initiatives succeed is skilled implementation, so you must execute your strategy correctly.

What is strategy execution?

Strategy execution is essentially implementing a strategic plan to reach organizational goals. It includes the daily structures, systems, and operational purposes to help your team be successful and fulfill its aims. 

Here are the steps for successful strategy execution:

Learn more about the keys to strategy execution with our eBook:

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How i-nexus can help you implement your business strategy

If you’re looking for a tool to help you implement your business’ strategy successfully, i-nexus is the answer. 

Our strategy execution software can help to streamline your processes and connect the dots between plans, processes, and teams. 

That way, you have less to juggle so you can focus on the important stuff - executing, planning and tracking your goals. See how the i-nexus software can help you manage your strategy execution management and book a demo today .

Learn more about strategy execution

Take the next steps in your journey by exploring our strategy execution resource hub or any of the below:

About the author

James Milsom is Head of Marketing at i-nexus. 

As Head of Marketing, his drive is to raise awareness and understanding of enterprises' challenges in delivering strategic goals amidst changing markets and the obstacles traditional tools and methods present leaders. If you’d like to talk more about strategy, reach out to James on [email protected] or   connect with him on LinkedIn   for the latest insights.

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implementation of strategic plan process

We keep hearing news stories and anecdotes about this “successful business” or that “entrepreneur who hit the big time with his business idea”. These stories often leave us in a state of wonder and awe, and we find ourselves wanting to know more. More about how the business became a success, more about what inspired a normal working guy (or girl) to think of a novel and brilliant business idea, and more about how someone can start a business, and make her dreams a reality.

We become so fixated on these stories that, all too often, we overlook the other side of that reality: that just as businesses become big and successful, there are also companies – perhaps in greater numbers – that fail.

What many often fail to realize, is that they can also learn from business ideas that tanked and business ventures that never really got off the ground. Better, they can also learn a lot from businesses that were able to get started, and then, somewhere along the way, something went wrong. They were having problems and great difficulty in maintaining their operations, until most of them declared bankruptcy or liquidated.

Businesses fail for a lot of reasons . Some had to close up shop because of economic upheavals that simply did not provide any room for new businesses to try making headway in their operations. Others blame the actions of competitors, and even the business challenges that are inherent in the market. There are also those businesses that blame the lack of resources for the failure.

However, this makes one wonder: if the economy, the competitors, the market and its challenges, and the availability of resources are at fault, how come other businesses were able to survive, and even become hugely successful? At this point, the most logical reason that comes to mind is mismanagement. More often than not, it is about how the business was unable to manage its strategies very well.

Strategic management is considered to be one of the most vital activities of any organization, since it encompasses the organization’s entire scope of strategic decision-making. Through the strategic management process, it allows the organization to formulate sets of decisions, actions and measures – collectively known as strategies – that are subsequently implemented in order to achieve organizational goals and objectives.

Strategy formulation – where the organization’s mission, objectives, and strategies are defined and set – is the first stage in strategic management. That is where it all begins, which means that, if the organization was unable to complete that stage with very good results, then the company’s strategy management is already a bust from the start. Many organizations fail during the first stage, in the sense that they are unable to come up with strategies that will potentially take the organization where it wants to be.

Essential Steps to a Successful Strategy Implementation Process

© Shutterstock.com | Gajus

However, there are also a lot of businesses that are able to formulate excellent and very promising strategies. And yet, the end result is still the organization having problems and even ultimately closing down. What could have gone wrong?

Most probably, it was because of poor implementation of the strategies.


The second stage of strategic management, after strategy formulation, is “strategy implementation” or, what is more familiar to some as “strategy execution”. This is where the real action takes place in the strategic management process, since this is where the tactics in the strategic plan will be transformed into actions or actual performance.

Needless to say, it is the most rigorous and demanding part of the entire strategic management process, and the one that will require the most input of the organization’s resources. However, if done right, it will ensure the achievement of objectives, and the success of the organization.

If strategy formulation tackles the “what” and “why” of the activities of the organization, strategy implementation is all about “how” the activities will be carried out, “who” will perform them, “when” and how often will they be performed, and “where” will the activities be conducted.

And it does not refer only to the installation or application of new strategies. The company may have existing strategies that have always worked well in the past years, and are still expected to yield excellent results in the coming periods. Reinforcing these strategies is also a part of strategy implementation.

The basic activities in strategy implementation involve the following:

Incidentally, businesses may also find that they have to perform further planning even during the implementation stage, especially in the discovery of issues that must be addressed.

Strategy implementation is the stage that demands participation of the entire organization. Formulation of the strategies are mostly in the hands of the strategic management team, with the aid of senior management and key employees. When it comes to implementation, however, it is the workforce that will execute the strategic plan, with top or senior management taking the lead.


Effective execution of strategies is supported by five key components or factors. All five must be present in order for the organization to be able to carry out the strategies as planned.

There are two questions that must be answered: “Do you have enough people to implement the strategies?” and “Do you have the right people in the organization to implement the strategies?”

The number of people in your workforce is an issue that is easier to address, because you can hire additional manpower. The tougher part of this is seeing to it that you have the right people, looking into whether they have the skills, knowledge, and competencies required in carrying out the tasks that will implement the strategy.

If it appears that the current employees lack the required skills and competencies, they should be made to undergo the necessary trainings, seminars and workshops so that they will be better equipped and ready when it’s time to put the strategic plan into action.

In addition, the commitment of the people is also something that must be secured by management. Since they are the implementers, they have to be fully involved and committed in the achievement of the organization’s objectives.

One of the basic activities in strategy implementation is the allocation of resources. These refer to both financial and non-financial resources that (a) are available to the organization and (b) are lacking but required for strategy implementation.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the amount of funding that will support implementation, covering the costs and expenses that must be incurred in the execution of the strategies. Another important resource is time. Is there more than enough time to see the strategy throughout its implementation?

The organizational structure must be clear-cut, with the lines of authority and responsibility defined and underlined in the hierarchy or “chain of command”. Each member of the organization must know who he is accountable to, and who he is responsible for.

Management should also define the lines of communication throughout the organization. Employees, even those on the lowest tier of the organizational hierarchy, must be able to communicate with their supervisors and top management, and vice versa. Ensuring an open and clear communication network will facilitate the implementation process.

What systems, tools, and capabilities are in place to facilitate the implementation of the strategies? What are the specific functions of these systems? How will these systems aid in the succeeding steps of the strategic management process, after implementation?

This is the organizational culture , or the overall atmosphere within the company, particularly with respect to its members. The organization should make its employees feel important and comfortable in their respective roles by ensuring that they are involved in the strategic management process, and that they have a very important role. A culture of being responsible and accountable for one’s actions, with corresponding incentives and sanctions for good and poor performance, will also create an atmosphere where everyone will feel more motivated to contribute to the implementation of strategies.

These factors are generally in agreement with the key success factors or prerequisites for effective implementation strategy, as identified by McKinsey . These success factors are presented in the McKinsey 7s Framework , a tool made to provide answers for any question regarding organizational design.

The emphasis of the framework is “coordination over structure”, which also supports how strategy implementation is described to involve the entire organization and not just select departments or divisions.

The 7 factors are divided into two groups: the Hard S (strategy, structure and systems) and the Soft S (style, shared values, staff and skills)

The strategy – or the plan of the business to achieve competitive advantage and sustainable growth – must be long-term and clearly defined. It must indicate a direction that leads to the attainment of objectives. When you take the organization’s mission and core values, the strategy should also be in line with them.

The organizational structure must be visible to everyone, and clearly identify how the departments, divisions, units and sections are organized, with the lines of authority and accountability clearly established.

There should be a clear indication and guide on how the main activities or operations of the business are carried out. The processes, procedures, tasks, and flow of work make up the systems of the organization.

This addresses the management or leadership style in force within the organization, from top management to the team leaders and managers in the smaller units. Strategy implementation advocates participative leadership styles, and so this is really more about defining and describing the interactions among the leaders in the organization and, to some extent, how they are perceived by those that they lead or manage.

Organizations will always have to deal with matters regarding staffing. Human resources, after all, is one of the most important assets or resources of an organization. Thus, much attention is given to human resource processes, specifically hiring, recruitment, selection and training.

Employees without skills are worthless resources to the organization. In order to aid the organization on the road towards its goals, the employees must have the skills, competencies and capabilities required in the implementation of strategies. You need to make sure you take care of the human aspects of the strategy implementation process .

S hared Values

This is at the heart of the McKinsey 7s framework, and they refer to the standards, norms and generally accepted attitudes that ultimately spur members of the organization to act or react in a certain manner. Employee behavior will be influenced by these standards and norms, and their shared values will become one of the driving forces of the organization as it moves forward.

Usually, organizations may take a look at each of these key success factors for individual analysis. However, the McKinsey approach takes a wider approach, assessing if they are well-aligned with the other factors or not. All seven prerequisites are interconnected, which means all seven must be present, and they must be effectively aligned with each other , in order to ensure effective strategy implementation, and overall organizational effectiveness.

Here is another interesting lecture from Stanford University on how to align your organization to execute strategy.


Going back to the earlier discussion on why some businesses failed, even with the best-laid plans and strategies, have you ever wondered what went wrong in the implementation of these strategies?

In a study conducted by Fortune Magazine, it was revealed that nine out of ten organizations are unable to fully, completely and properly implement their strategic plan, often resulting to complete business failure. We’re looking at nine out of ten organizations that just wasted their resources, opportunities, and probably even very good strategies that have been formulated in the first stage of the strategic management process.

The most common reasons why implementation of the strategies are unsuccessful are:

In order to ensure the success of the strategy implementation, covering all your bases is important. The best way to go about that is by following the essential steps to executing the strategies.


To ensure an effective and successful implementation of strategies, it’s a good idea to have a system to go about it. Take a look at the steps to ensure that happens.

Step #1: Evaluation and communication of the Strategic Plan

The strategic plan, which was developed during the Strategy Formulation stage, will be distributed for implementation. However, there is still a need to evaluate the plan, especially with respect to the initiatives, budgets and performance. After all, it is possible that there are still inputs that will crop up during evaluation but were missed during strategy formulation.

There are several sub-steps to be undertaken in this step.

Step #2: Development of an implementation structure

The next step is to create a vision , or a structure, that will serve as a guide or framework for the implementation of strategies.

Step #3: Development of implementation-support policies and programs

Some call them “strategy-encouraging policies” while others refer to them as “constant improvement programs”. Nonetheless, these are policies and programs that will be employed in aid of implementation.

Step #4: Budgeting and allocation of resources

It is now time to equip the implementors with the tools and other capabilities to perform their tasks and functions.

Step #5: Discharge of functions and activities

It is time to operationalize the tactics and put the strategies into action, aided by strategic leadership, utilizing participatory management and leadership styles.

Throughout this step, the organization should also ensure the following:

Basically, the results or accomplishments in Step #5 will be the input in the next step, which is the third stage of Strategic Management: “strategy evaluation”.

Some argue that implementation of strategies is more important than the strategies themselves. But this is not about taking sides or weighing and making comparisons, especially considering how these two are important stages in Strategic Management. Thus, it is safe to say that formulating winning strategies is just half the battle, and the other half is their implementation.


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Strategic Implementation: More Than Just Implementing Strategy

Smartsheet Contributor Kate Eby

November 27, 2017 (updated December 4, 2021)

Strategic implementation is a key ingredient of modern business: Once an organization creates a strategy to meet its goals, implementation is the next step for successful execution. Essentially, the implementation phase outlines how a company plans to achieve its goals. Business theories and frameworks help guide strategic formulation, implementation, and execution. This article explains strategic implementation and how it differs from other strategy tactics. You’ll learn about key steps and pitfalls, review some examples, and get expert insights.

What Is Strategic Implementation?

There are numerous definitions of strategic implementation on the web, including the following:

Business Dictionary : The activity performed according to a plan in order to achieve an overall goal. For example, strategic implementation within a business context might involve developing and then executing a new marketing plan to help increase sales of the company's products to consumers.

The Houston Chronicle : The process that puts plans and strategies into action to reach goals. A strategic plan is a written document that lays out the plans of the business to reach goals, but will sit forgotten without strategic implementation. The implementation makes the company’s plans happen.

OnStrategy : The process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.

What these and other definitions have in common is that they discuss turning a theoretical plan (about an organization’s direction) into manageable tasks that team members can perform to achieve the stated goals.

Once an organization creates a strategy, it needs to be implemented, and then executed. Here are the high-level steps in strategic implementation (which we will discuss in detail later):

Strategy Implementation vs. Strategic Implementation

Whether or not a difference exists between strategy implementation and strategic implementation depends on who you ask.

implementation of strategic plan process

Ray Mckenzie, Founder and Managing Director of Red Beach Advisors , says, “Strategy implementation is a larger umbrella, or a holistic view of what’s going to happen, and looks at products and pricing and how we function as business. Strategic implementation is a plan for implementation of a specific objective: For example, if I have a piece of software that I want installed in three months.” One scenario might be if you want to integrate CRM software into your organization, you’ll need to identify the steps to take to execute the integration.

Llloyd Baird

Lloyd Baird is the Jon M. Huntsman Visiting Professor at Utah State University . Of the difference between the two phrases, he says, “It depends on what organization or company you are talking to.”

In this article, we’ll treat strategy implementation and strategic implementation as synonymous.

Getting Strategic

As organizations evolve, they often change from a reactive to proactive operational style. It’s at this point that an organization begins strategic planning, which leads to strategic implementation.

Formulation, Implementation, and Execution

Strategy formulation (also known as planning), implementation, and execution are intertwined, but each are distinct. Formulation is the creation of a framework that guides decisions. Implementation is preparation and putting elements of the strategy into place. Execution is the decisions made and activities performed throughout the company, with the objective of meeting goals outlined in the strategy.

For example, imagine you're the coach of a football team in a critical 4th-and-1 situation. In this case, the terms would function as follows:

Smartsheet offers many templates to assist with strategic formulation.

Thinking About Strategic Implementation

In his paper Strategy Implementation as Substance and Selling , author Donald C. Hambrick and Albert A. Cannella, Jr., state  “… implementation must be considered during the formulation process, not later, when it may be too late.” They continue, “The strategist will not be able to nail down every action step when the strategy is first created, nor … should this even be attempted. However, he or she must have the ability to look ahead at the major implementation obstacles and ask, ‘Is this strategy workable?’”

Corporate Strategy and Business Unit Strategy

Executives create the corporate strategy, which determines the company’s lines of business. It also addresses how business units can work together to increase efficiency. Business unit strategy is created by the leader of each unit, and revolves around how the corporate strategy is put into action. In other words, corporate strategy determines what happens, and business unit strategy determines how it happens.

To align corporate and business unit strategies, executives must encourage the development of business unit strategies that both contribute to corporate strategy objectives and respond to their competitive situation, whether geographical or functional.

In a 1984 paper titled Business Unit Strategy, Managerial Characteristics, and Business Unit Effectiveness at Strategy Implementation , authors Anil K. Gupta and V. Govindarajan explain, “The absolute performance of a business entity depends not just on the effectiveness of its internal organization in implementing the chosen strategy, but also on industry characteristics and the choice of strategy itself.”

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Why Is Implementation Important?

Executives formulate the strategy that business units will execute. However, implementation requires the participation of the entire organization, so implementation is as important — if not more so — than the strategy itself. For example, you can buy seeds and plant them in your garden with the goal of serving a home-grown salad every night at dinner, but that doesn’t ensure that you’ll reach your goal. If you plant at the wrong time of year, if the seeds are not viable in your climate, or if the soil is depleted, you’ll still be buying vegetables from the store for a long time to.

Because strategic implementation is the most important, it’s also the most difficult to achieve. A 1989 Booz Allen study found that 73 percent of managers thought that strategic implementation is more difficult than formulation, 72 percent think that it takes more time, and 82 percent say it’s the part of the process over which they have the least control. But there’s been progress. In a 2015 survey of reports titled Strategy implementation: What is the failure rate? , authors Carlos J.F. Cândido and Sérgio P. Santos conclude that the implementation failure rate has fallen from the between 70-90 percent in the mid 1980s to about 44 percent in the early 2010s.

There are many reasons that strategies can fail. A bad plan (e.g. one that has unrealistic goals), or poor execution (e.g. not adapting to changing conditions) can cause failure, but since implementation is the key aspect, there are more possible pitfalls, including the following:

Challenges and Criticisms of Strategic Implementation

Like any business process, strategic implementation has its share of challenges and criticisms. However, if an organization is aware of the limitations of strategic implementation and the obstacles that may arise, they can overcome potential challenges.

Strategic Implementation Challenges

Key Leadership Theories for Implementation Strategy

Leadership theories guide how executives think about the world and their organization’s place in it. A couple important, related theories are discussed below.

Tipping Point Theory

Blue Ocean Theory

What Do You Mean by Strategic Evaluation?

Strategic evaluation is a type of business performance measurement (BPM) system. In a 2007 paper Towards A Definition of a Business Performance Measurement System , Monica Franco-Santos et al. describes it as, “...a set of metrics used to quantify both the efficiency and effectiveness of actions; or as the reporting process that gives feedback to employees on the outcome of actions.” Strategic evaluation (often written as strategic evaluation and control, when it’s used as part of a strategic management model) is a cyclical process that helps managers and executives determine whether programs, projects, and activities are helping an organization meet their strategy’s goals and objectives. In short, it can help an organization stay on and get back on track.

Strategic evaluation is performed during the execution phase, but you create the process during implementation. There’s always a need to get and analyze feedback to find out what is and isn’t working, identify ways to fix what’s not working, and record the lessons learned for future strategies. There are four high-level steps in the strategic evaluation process:

There are a few different facets of strategic evaluation. Each facet is important and shouldn't be ignored, as using all four ensure that you’ll discover any possible root causes of a problem.

Strategic evaluations are a great way to learn. Ray McKenzie says, “Have a follow-up with the team to see what worked, or if you should do things differently next time around."

How Strategic Implementation Works in Different Organizations

With the rise of mass production in the 19th century, companies began to centralize key functions like sales and finance, which led to economies of scale. Later, as some firms became diversified and began to increase their market, they created business units that focused on product lines or geographical regions. The firms may have lost some of the previously gained economies of scale, but they were able to better react to market conditions.

Centralized organizations could use strategic implementation to make shared services more efficient. Diversified organizations could coordinate processes and goals between various regional offices or product-focused groups.

Later, companies started using the matrix organization to try to take advantage of both the economies of scale created by centralization, and the adaptability of the geographical or product-focused organizations. Matrix organizations are difficult to coordinate. Implementing a strategy can help everyone focus on the same goals.

In the 1990s, the business process reengineering (a version of this is know as Total Quality Management, or TQM ) drove the creation of organizations that were organized around processes. Again, implementing a strategy can help everyone focus on the same goals.

Going forward, virtual, networked, and “Velcro” organizations (a concept where the organization can be pulled apart and put back together in response to changes in the business environment, or as Lloyd Baird says, “a network of relationships”) will have the same issues that strong strategic implementation can help.

What Is Involved in the Implementation Process

After formulating and finalizing a strategy, it’s time to share it with the organization. Next, you may need to make changes to the organization in preparation for the execution phase. The steps to take are as follows:

Communicate: Everyone in the organization, and some outside, must learn about the strategy, how it affects them, and what changes they’ll need to make to support it. As you cascade the strategy throughout the organization, different groups will need to be made aware of the parts that are important to them. Sales and marketing teams will want to hear more about the sales goals, while IT will be more concerned about changes to the network and new required software. A vendor will need to know what changes they’ll need make to the materials they provide.

Engage Stakeholders: After communicating the goals, managers and staff (as well as any contractors or vendor affected) need to understand the importance of the strategic goals, their role in strategy execution, their responsibilities, and the impact of meeting or not meeting the goals or fulfilling their responsibilities. Using stakeholders throughout the organization to be champions of the coming changes will make the job easier.

Align Initiatives with Strategy: You’ll likely need to update processes, swap out tools, and make other changes to ensure company activities are contributing to the KPIs laid out in the strategy.

Allocate Resources: What needs to be bought or moved to prepare for execution? What funding needs to be allocated to strategic, operational, and capital expense budgets?

Make Structural Adjustments: Do you need to hire new people? Will there be a round of layoffs? Will you need to change any reporting structures? Are new vendors or contractors required? This is the hardest part of the implementation to perform.

Create a Strategic Evaluation: Implement repeatable processes that will check progress toward the goals, and provide data to executives and managers to determine what changes need to be made to the strategy or it’s execution to keep the organization on track to meeting the goals.

The Three Cs of Strategic Implementation

In a 2012 Forbes article , Scott Edinger composed a concise checklist of considerations. When preparing to implement, keep these in mind:

5 Changes That Support Successful Implementation

Another lens to look through is, “What changes need to be made to implement the strategy?” You can divide the answer into five groups:

Strategic Five Changes That Support Successful Implementation

McKinsey 7S Framework

The McKinsey 7S framework is an organizational tool developed at the McKinsey & Company consulting firm in the 1980s, by Robert H. Waterman and Tom Peters. The framework can be used in many ways, including to determine how well an organization is prepared to change in order to implement a strategy.

Here are the 7Ss:

The McKinsey 7S Framework

These can be divided into the hard Ss (Strategy, Structure, Systems), which are tangible, and the soft Ss (Skills, Style, Staff, Shared Values), which are intangible. In order to ensure smooth implementation, align each of these categories.

Examples of Successful and Unsuccessful Implementation Strategies

As previously mentioned, because strategy formulation, implementation, and execution are intertwined, it may difficult to know which phase is the cause of strategic failure. Here are some quick examples of success and failure where implementation is key.

Wal-Mart: The corporation became the retail giant they are by having low prices. They made lower margins by having high volume. In order to do that, they implemented a supply chain strategy that reduced operating costs. As they grew, their strategy was to use their size as a bargaining chip with suppliers to get even lower prices.  

J.C. Penney: Penney’s was a major retailer in the U.S. for many years, but when the landscape changed, they kept doing the same things. When the company finally brought in new leadership in 2011, they implemented a strategy that eliminated coupons that customers used and lowered their regular prices. They also changed their retail mix. When sales began to fall, they maintained their implemented strategy without adjusting. If they had taken advantage of the data from strategic evaluations and had responded appropriately, they might have been able to salvage the parts of their strategy that were working.

Apple: In the late 1990s, Apple was close to going out of business. They had many products that didn’t sell. When Steve Jobs returned, he implemented a strategy that reduced the number of products, and worked to develop new ones. This approach eventually led to the invention of the iPod. The iPod was not the first MP3 player, but it was the first to catch on because of its ease of use and storage capacity. This, in essence, was an application of the Blue Ocean theory: Apple found a market segment that wasn’t very competitive, and created a product that was better than what was available. For a long time, Apple was the dominant player in that market segment.

Google: While Google is successful in most ventures (search, email, maps), they have had some notable stumbles. One is Google Glass, the company’s wearable computer. While the idea was good, the device was very expensive, was not easy to use, there were concerns about privacy, and was an unattractive pair of glasses. Mostly, there was no real compelling reason to use it. Google Glass was a failed application of the Blue Ocean theory, and also another failure to adapt to data from strategic evaluations.

Strategic Implementation without Disruption

Strategic implementation can involve the restructuring of reporting relationships: adding, deleting, or updating processes, or even layoffs. This process can be painful for employees, and can cause problems when it’s time to execute strategy.

Restructuring can be expensive, and the new structure can create issues as troublesome as those you are trying to solve. Employes have to adapt to the new structure and may be dissatisfied. As a result, a lot of tacit institutional knowledge can be lost as people get shuffled around or worse, leave the company. Restructuring may also result in maintaining legacy systems until they can be phased out, which causes unnecessary expense. Additionally, some people won't be able to fully focus on the new strategy while they keep legacy systems running.

It's far less disruptive to choose an organizational design that’s flexible and can be adapted without major conflicts, and then formulate strategies that can be easily implemented.

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton recommend the balanced scorecard framework, which they co-created in the 1990s. They believe that this framework will minimize the need to go through disruptive restructuring when new strategies change due to the following reasons:

The implementation of this framework is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read an explanation of its benefits via the Harvard Business Review .

Sometimes disruptive restructuring is necessary. If it can’t be avoided, here are some steps to make it more manageable:

Strategy implementation

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Strategic Planning

The art of formulating business strategies, implementing them, and evaluating their impact based on organizational objectives

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is the art of creating specific business strategies, implementing them, and evaluating the results of executing the plan, in regard to a company’s overall long-term goals or desires. It is a concept that focuses on integrating various departments (such as accounting and finance, marketing, and human resources) within a company to accomplish its strategic goals. The term strategic planning is essentially synonymous with strategic management.

Strategic Planning

The concept of strategic planning originally became popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and enjoyed favor in the corporate world up until the 1980s, when it somewhat fell out of favor. However, enthusiasm for strategic business planning was revived in the 1990s and strategic planning remains relevant in modern business.

CFI’s Course on Corporate & Business Strategy is an elective course for the FMVA Program.

Strategic Planning Process

The strategic planning process requires considerable thought and planning on the part of a company’s upper-level management. Before settling on a plan of action and then determining how to strategically implement it, executives may consider many possible options. In the end, a company’s management will, hopefully, settle on a strategy that is most likely to produce positive results (usually defined as improving the company’s bottom line) and that can be executed in a cost-efficient manner with a high likelihood of success, while avoiding undue financial risk.

The development and execution of strategic planning are typically viewed as consisting of being performed in three critical steps:

1. Strategy Formulation

In the process of formulating a strategy, a company will first assess its current situation by performing an internal and external audit. The purpose of this is to help identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats ( SWOT Analysis ). As a result of the analysis, managers decide on which plans or markets they should focus on or abandon, how to best allocate the company’s resources, and whether to take actions such as expanding operations through a joint venture or merger.

Business strategies have long-term effects on organizational success. Only upper management executives are usually authorized to assign the resources necessary for their implementation.

2. Strategy Implementation

After a strategy is formulated, the company needs to establish specific targets or goals related to putting the strategy into action, and allocate resources for the strategy’s execution. The success of the implementation stage is often determined by how good a job upper management does in regard to clearly communicating the chosen strategy throughout the company and getting all of its employees to “buy into” the desire to put the strategy into action.

Effective strategy implementation involves developing a solid structure, or framework, for implementing the strategy, maximizing the utilization of relevant resources, and redirecting marketing efforts in line with the strategy’s goals and objectives.

3. Strategy Evaluation

Any savvy business person knows that success today does not guarantee success tomorrow. As such, it is important for managers to evaluate the performance of a chosen strategy after the implementation phase.

Strategy evaluation involves three crucial activities: reviewing the internal and external factors affecting the implementation of the strategy, measuring performance, and taking corrective steps to make the strategy more effective. For example, after implementing a strategy to improve customer service, a company may discover that it needs to adopt a new customer relationship management (CRM) software program in order to attain the desired improvements in customer relations.

All three steps in strategic planning occur within three hierarchical levels: upper management, middle management, and operational levels. Thus, it is imperative to foster communication and interaction among employees and managers at all levels, so as to help the firm to operate as a more functional and effective team.

Benefits of Strategic Planning

The volatility of the business environment causes many firms to adopt reactive strategies rather than proactive ones. However, reactive strategies are typically only viable for the short-term, even though they may require spending a significant amount of resources and time to execute. Strategic planning helps firms prepare proactively and address issues with a more long-term view. They enable a company to initiate influence instead of just responding to situations.

Among the primary benefits derived from strategic planning are the following:

1. Helps formulate better strategies using a logical, systematic approach

This is often the most important benefit. Some studies show that the strategic planning process itself makes a significant contribution to improving a company’s overall performance, regardless of the success of a specific strategy.

2. Enhanced communication between employers and employees

Communication is crucial to the success of the strategic planning process. It is initiated through participation and dialogue among the managers and employees, which shows their commitment to achieving organizational goals.

Strategic planning also helps managers and employees show commitment to the organization’s goals. This is because they know what the company is doing and the reasons behind it. Strategic planning makes organizational goals and objectives real, and employees can more readily understand the relationship between their performance, the company’s success, and compensation. As a result, both employees and managers tend to become more innovative and creative, which fosters further growth of the company.

3. Empowers individuals working in the organization

The increased dialogue and communication across all stages of the process strengthens employees’ sense of effectiveness and importance in the company’s overall success. For this reason, it is important for companies to decentralize the strategic planning process by involving lower-level managers and employees throughout the organization. A good example is that of the Walt Disney Co., which dissolved its separate strategic planning department, in favor of assigning the planning roles to individual Disney business divisions.

An increasing number of companies use strategic planning to formulate and implement effective decisions. While planning requires a significant amount of time, effort, and money, a well-thought-out strategic plan efficiently fosters company growth, goal achievement, and employee satisfaction.

Additional Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Strategic Planning. To keep learning and advancing your career, the additional CFI resources below will be useful:

implementation of strategic plan process

strategic planning process

5 steps of the strategic planning process

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Posted by: Lucid Content Team

Strategic planning process steps

Every business should have a strategic plan—but the number of businesses that try to operate without a defined plan (or at least a clearly communicated one) might surprise you. Research from OnStrategy shows that 86% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, and 95% of a typical workforce doesn’t understand its organization’s strategy.

Because so many businesses lack in these regards, you can get ahead of the game by using strategic planning. In this article, we will explain what the strategic planning process looks like and the steps involved.

Strategic planning process

What is the strategic planning process?

In the simplest terms, the strategic planning process is the method that organizations use to develop plans to achieve overall, long-term goals.

This process differs from the project planning  process, which is used to scope and assign tasks for individual projects, or strategy mapping , which helps you determine your mission, vision, and goals.

The strategic planning process is broad—it helps you create a roadmap for which strategic objectives you should put effort into achieving and which initiatives would be less helpful to the business. 

Before you begin the strategic planning process, it is important to review some steps to set you and your organization up for success.

1. Determine your strategic position

This preparation phase sets the foundation for all work going forward. You need to know where you are to determine where you need to go and how you will get there.

Involve the right stakeholders from the start, considering both internal and external sources. Identify key strategic issues by talking with executives at your company, pulling in customer insights, and collecting industry and market data. This will give you a clear picture of your position in the market and customer insight.

It can also be helpful to review—or create if you don’t have them already—your company’s mission and vision statements to give yourself and your team a clear image of what success looks like for your business. In addition, review your company’s core values to remind yourself about how your company plans to achieve these objectives.

To get started, use industry and market data, including customer insights and current/future demands, to identify the issues that need to be addressed. Document your organization's internal strengths and weaknesses, along with external opportunities (ways your organization can grow in order to fill needs that the market does not currently fill) and threats (your competition). 

As a framework for your initial analysis, use a SWOT diagram. With input from executives, customers, and external market data, you can quickly categorize your findings as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to clarify your current position.

SWOT analysis example

An alternative to a SWOT is PEST analysis. Standing for Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, and Technological, PEST is a strategic tool used to clarify threats and opportunities for your business. 

PEST Analysis

As you synthesize this information, your unique strategic position in the market will become clear, and you can start solidifying a few key strategic objectives. Often, these objectives are set with a three- to five-year horizon in mind.

strategic planning

2. Prioritize your objectives

Once you have identified your current position in the market, it is time to determine objectives that will help you achieve your goals. Your objectives should align with your company mission and vision.

Prioritize your objectives by asking important questions such as:

Objectives should be distinct and measurable to help you reach your long-term strategic goals and initiatives outlined in step one. Potential objectives can be updating website content, improving email open rates, and generating new leads in the pipeline.

3. Develop a plan

Now it's time to create a strategic plan to reach your goals successfully. This step requires determining the tactics necessary to attain your objectives and designating a timeline and clearly communicating responsibilities. 

Strategy mapping is an effective tool to visualize your entire plan. Working from the top-down, strategy maps make it simple to view business processes and identify gaps for improvement.

strategy map example

Truly strategic choices usually involve a trade-off in opportunity cost. For example, your company may decide not to put as much funding behind customer support, so that it can put more funding into creating an intuitive user experience.

Be prepared to use your values, mission statement, and established priorities to say “no” to initiatives that won’t enhance your long-term strategic position.  

4. Execute and manage the plan

Once you have the plan, you’re ready to implement it. First, communicate the plan to the organization by sharing relevant documentation. Then, the actual work begins.

Turn your broader strategy into a concrete plan by mapping your processes. Use key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards to communicate team responsibilities clearly. This granular approach illustrates the completion process and ownership for each step of the way. 

Set up regular reviews with individual contributors and their managers and determine check-in points to ensure you’re on track.

5. Review and revise the plan

The final stage of the plan—to review and revise—gives you an opportunity to reevaluate your priorities and course-correct based on past successes or failures.

On a quarterly basis, determine which KPIs your team has met and how you can continue to meet them, adapting your plan as necessary. On an annual basis, it’s important to reevaluate your priorities and strategic position to ensure that you stay on track for success in the long run.

Track your progress using balanced scorecards to comprehensively understand of your business's performance and execute strategic goals. 

balanced scorecard template

Over time you may find that your mission and vision need to change — an annual evaluation is a good time to consider those changes, prepare a new plan, and implement again. 

strategic planning

Master the strategic planning process steps

As you continue to implement the strategic planning process, repeating each step regularly, you will start to make measurable progress toward achieving your company’s vision.

Instead of constantly putting out fires, reacting to the competition, or focusing on the latest hot-button initiative, you’ll be able to maintain a long-term perspective and make decisions that will keep you on the path to success for years to come.

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Strategic Planning Process

Jesal Shethna

Introduction to Strategic Planning Process

Strategic management is a process of the regular and continuous planning, leading and analysis of all the necessary actions that help an organization to meet its goals and objectives.

According to Sharplin, “Strategic Management is defined as the formulation and implementation of plans and carrying out of activities relating to the matters which are of vital, pervasive or contusing importance to the total organization”.

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Evolution of Strategic Management

Strategy is a framework of plans or methods that help and organization to achievement of the main objective. It is a course of action that is designed to reach smaller goals thus leading to the main aim of the company. Originally, the word strategy has been derived from the Greek word, ‘strategos’ which means generalship.

It is a review and planning process that is undertaken to make thoughtful decisions about an organization’s future in order to ensure its success. Strategy is a framework of plans or methods that help and organization to achievement of the main objective. It is a course of action that is designed to reach smaller goals thus leading to the main aim of the company. Originally, the word strategy has been derived from the Greek word, ‘strategos’ which means generalship.

This process involves rightly defining the company’s mission and an assessment of its present position and competitive status. This process requires a well-structured plan for how to optimally allocate time, human capital and financial resources. By following a strategic planning process, organizations can improve outcomes for their business and avoid taking on unexpected risks due to lack of foresight and futuristic approach.

strategic planning process

There are various approaches and action steps for strategic planning. One of which has been summarized below. It is a joint attempt between Board and staff, which can be achieved by forming a special strategic planning committee of members from the Board and staff and delegating proper balance of authority and responsibility for the effort. Some of it can be done by the committee, while Board and staff planning retreats are likely to be required, during each phase of the planning process. Major steps have been described below:

Deciding on One Common Strategic Planning Process

Here we will decide one common strategic planning process.


It’s desirable to set up a committee or task force for strategic planning. The coordinating group or the committee assigned for strategic planning process must consist of Board members, senior & middle managers, a representative of support/technical staff, a member representing stakeholders, and perhaps former leaders of the organization.

Evaluate and Assess the Environment

This evaluation covers both an external environment finding and fixing opportunities and threats and an internal environment — analyzing organizational strengths and weaknesses. This process is known as “SWOT Analysis” that stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


External Environment

Consider political, economic, social, and technological factors and their impact on your organization. This includes changing demographics, economic and political trends, and effects of new or changing laws that affect the working of the organization, social values, communications, and other technological factors.

Internal Environment

This includes the following components.

Course Curriculum

Assess current organizational performance in terms of:

The committee responsible to assist the environmental scan can contact the company’s external members like suppliers, stakeholders, etc to get an external view and the staff can provide an internal assessment. The result of the environmental scan should be an analysis of organizational strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. Recorded or documented, the assessment requires close review and discussion by the committee. The meeting for the strategic planning process begins with a presentation of these results of the environmental assessment. In most of the cases, these results are presented to the Board before the planning meetings begin.

Determine the important issues and questions that need to be addressed as part of the strategic planning effort

If there is some discrepancy about issues of the organization, it is possible to move immediately to the main objective and then goals. If there is no agreement on general directions and organizational goals at all, it becomes necessary to find issue priorities and learn critical choices. This might be done in several ways. For example:


Whatever method is used, the discussion should reach some level of agreement about issues or choices that need to be taken care of and the decisions made under the strategic planning process.

Define or review the values, social vision, and mission

Make sure there is an agreement on why the organization’s existence, what goals it seeks to achieve , and whom it serves. Begin your strategic planning process by agreeing on:


Make a shared vision for the organization

It is important to focus and agree on the organization’s vision to be in three to five years or at the end of the period covered by the strategic plan.

The vision describes the organization and:

Strategic Planning Process - two puzzle

The development of a shared vision is best done with both Board and staff involvement and coerciveness.

Develop a series of goals that define the organization addressing its mission

Short steps from the vision to goals – the statement that describes the vision are essentially missions. It is extremely important to divide the vision into a series of major objectives of the organization, as status statements that describe the organization.

Strategic Planning Process - goal

Concede the major strategies to attain goals and address main issues identified through SWOT

The major emphasis should be on broad strategies, which should be related to specific goals. The process requires to know the “where you are?”, “where you want to be?” and “how to reach there?” for the organization. The Board provides a blueprint, while the staff or the planning committee does the detailed analysis. Whatever specific approach is used, particular criteria for assessing and selecting among strategies should be given consent. Thereafter, the planning committee must always consider the reasons to properly delegate responsibilities for their implementation.

Strategic Planning Process - Arrow

Design an action plan that marks the goals and identifies objectives and work plans on a yearly basis

After developing the longer-term parts of a strategic plan, it is now time to ensure a specific work plan, to start the implementation. Strategic planning describes that strategies must exhibit present conditions within the organization’s internal environment. Therefore it becomes difficult to develop particularized annual plans except for the first or perhaps the second year covered by the strategic objective. However, yearly action plans are required. Yearly program goals should be time-based and measurable, as it shows the progress made by the organization according to the plans made. This also gives an idea of the strategic planning process is been done and implemented in the right manner or not. The annual plan can be included in the strategic plan.

Developing objectives and annual work plans require the Board’s and staff’s regular input, wherein the staff takes up program-related goals and objectives, and the Board developing goals and objectives related to governance, once the Board has defined organizational goals.

The Board must approve the action plan so that the staff can develop the written plan. The staff’s expertise lies in the implementation of plans and strategies based on policies set by the Board.

Seal the final planned strategy that summarizes the decisions and consequences of the strategic planning process

No set format is required, however, it’s important to be sure to include the outcomes of each major step.

Build-in processes for monitoring and modifying strategies in accordance with the changes in the external environment

Development towards goals and use of strategies should be monitored regularly, with strategies re-evaluated and annual objectives improved on a yearly basis, based on the progress made, obstacles removed, and the continuously changing environment. Before unexpected changes before-hand, such as favourable appointed officials, development in the economy, changes in local financier’s priorities, or changing demand patterns of the target population.

The Board plays a critical role in reviewing progress and changing the strategies when needed; the staff generates the documentation and necessary information for this review, as well as performing timely assessment and making reports to the Board.

The steps above are just one of the approaches to developing and implementing a strategic plan. Strategic planning is a joint Board-staff effort. The main planning sessions work best when assisted by a someone from outside the organization who is knowledgeable about the organization like a former senior member or someone from community-based organizations, someone who is trained in group activities and experienced in strategic planning, directed towards assuring complete discussion of issues but also task-oriented and who can take the process forward. Together these factors serve as a guide to strategic planning.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to Strategic Planning Process. Here we have discussed basic overview, common strategic planning process and evaluating and assessing the environment respectively. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –


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Strategy Implementation: The 6 Step Process

by Tom Wright, on Jun 6, 2022

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What is Strategy Implementation?

Strategy implementation is the process utilized to ensure that a strategic plan is executed. In other words, it's implementing and executing what you said you would do when you planned the strategy! And as 9 out of 10 organizations fail to execute their strategy,   the need for proper implementation is vital!

The six steps in our strategy implementation process ensure that your strategy evolves from a static, inactive plan into a living, evolving implementation. Read our article on factors affecting strategy implementation to develop an even deeper understanding of strategic implementation.

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The Strategy Implementation Process in 6 steps 

strategy implementation process graphic

Follow our 6-step process guide to strategy implementation below to ensure your strategy evolves from a plan to strategic implementation. 

Download our free strategic planning template to help get you started on your 2022 strategy!

Step #1: Define your strategy framework

Strategy is something that should be embedded in everything that you do.

It should be in the DNA of the organization and its people. But, on the other hand, if you don't make an effort to call it out explicitly, you won't get the focus or traction you need.

So, you need to start with a simple framework that introduces a strategy lexicon that everyone can understand and get behind. When someone asks “how are our strategic objectives going” - everyone should be on exactly the same page about what that actually means.

At Cascade, we use the following “strategy house” to define the different elements of our strategy:

Strategic Planning Models_Cascade

We walk you through this approach in our How to Write a Strategic Plan Guide , where you’ll also find a free template you can download to jump-start the development of your strategy.

It gives you a clear way to talk about strategy implementation and avoids using unnecessary jargon.

We've deliberately chosen to include only a vision statement rather than the more popular “ vision and mission ” combo because we found that people struggle to understand the difference between those two.

Confusion of any kind is the last thing we want when talking about strategy implementation, so we included only a vision statement .

If you need to add more depth to your strategy, consider using a strategy framework such as the Balanced Scorecard or McKinsey's Strategic Horizons. Read this guide to help you decide which framework is right for you .

Whichever framework you choose, though, be sure to keep things as simple as possible. (All of the frameworks in our guide pass this test with flying colors!).

Step #2: Build your plan

The next step of our strategy implementation process is where you will start creating your plan.

Now that you've got your framework(s) in place, you're ready to move onto the actual creation of your strategic plan. We've developed a comprehensive guide on how to write a strategic plan , so we won't cover that again here.

But assuming you're using a framework similar to the one above, here's how we'd suggest approaching the creation of your plan:

The 7 Steps to build your strategic implementation plan

1. Gather the leaders of the organization (founders, CEO, directors, etc.) to agree on your vision. You might do this in one workshop, but have them engaged with it regularly. Have them read this article to keep everyone on the same page. 2. At the same workshop, start to write down the values that the organization holds. They’re crucial for your company’s culture, so go through this post to make the process smoother. 3. Finally (same workshop still), write down 3 or 4 Strategic Focus Areas the team thinks they need to be addressed in order to reach the vision. 4. Pause. Don't be tempted to move on to creating strategic objectives just yet. 5. Take your basic framework back to your team(s) and have them independently input ideas for strategic objectives under each Focus Area. You might want to assign one Focus Area to each member of your leadership team and have them lead the charge for getting that Focus Area fleshed out. This is a great way to ensure buy-in to the final product of your strategic plan. 6. Once you've fleshed out the strategic objectives, get back together as a group and ask yourself a series of hard questions:

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Skip projects and kpis (for now).

You might notice that we haven't covered the bottom layer of our strategy house yet: projects and KPIs.

That's because part of the strategy implementation process should empower people throughout the organization to come up with their own projects.

Now that you've got a solid foundation in place, the risks of that process are greatly diminished and will help you gain momentum and buy into your strategic plan.

Step #3: Define KPIs

You need a way to measure progress towards your strategic objectives.

In other words, step 3 of our process guide to strategy implementation is to define your KPIs .

Key performance indicators are one of the oldest management tools around. And for a good reason – they work. They keep you honest about your progress and focused on your outcomes.

They need to become your beacons for implementing strategy. Here are a few tips when it comes to coming up with your own - and some examples of KPIs that we use in our SaaS business.

Here are our focus areas and the KPIs we use for each:

We can do a bit better for our KPIs in the “Industry” and “People” space. But overall, these KPIs have been a huge part of helping us implement our strategy.

One final point: You need to update the progress of your KPIs at least once per month, or you risk quickly losing focus on them. Spend the time now as part of your strategic planning process to figure out how to access the stats and data you need.

Check out our free downloadable KPI Template to help you with yours!

Step #4: Deal with business-as-usual

Step 4 of our process guide to strategy implementation is where you overcome business-as-usual.

The ironic thing about strategy implementation is that everyone acknowledges its importance, but it's often the first thing to be forgotten about when the going gets tough.

People get so caught up in the day-to-day that they don't have time to focus on the big picture items that will keep the organization moving forward. This rapidly becomes a self-fulfilling cycle and is one of the most common reasons strategies fail .

How you deal with BAU

How to adapt your strategy fast and align your people with it

Regular discussions on progress can only get you so far, without the right mentality and tools.

Be decisive and go all in. No plan is perfect, so don’t get too attached to it. When you spot opportunities or mistakes in your reviewing meetings, act on them decisively.

Change is not only natural but necessary to learn and adapt at light speed to the market’s conditions.

Good strategies guide decision-making. Frame your strategy as choices. The company’s direction must be clear enough that it educates your people’s decisions when they reach a crossroad.

And they reach crossroads multiple times per day.

Get rid of static tools. The truth is, without a dynamic tool, the process of refining your strategy faces tremendous friction.

That costs time, peace of mind and, at the end of the day, money. Cascade removes this friction from all the stages of your strategy refinement from planning to reporting , even aligning .

📚 Recommended read: Best Strategy Software: 8 Possible Roads To Strategy Execution (2023)

Step #5: Implement consistent & simple strategy reports

Step 5 of our process guide to strategy implementation focuses on strategy reporting .

Now that your meetings are in place, you'll want to choose a consistent way of reporting the progress of your strategy implementation . The main objectives of this report should be:


Everyone knows what to expect and what they need to update prior to the meeting(s).

The report should give an at-a-glance view of how the strategy is progressing.


Ensure that the report includes the names of the owner of each goal (accountability), as well as the names of the people actually getting things done (recognition).


Your next steps. The strategy report needs to include not only an overview of how the strategy looks now but how it's progressing over time. Try to include a comparison period or graphs/charts that show progress over time to ensure momentum is maintained.

Step #6: Strategy implementation in strategic management 

Linking performance reviews to strategy, t he first five steps of our process guide to strategy implementation are the absolute basics to ensure that you have success implementing and executing your strategy .

But organizations who truly succeed are those who manage to weave strategy implementation into the fabric of their existence. An easy way to get started with this is to create a formal link between strategic management and performance reviews .

Nothing shows people how important strategy is more than when it impacts their reviews and potentially even their reward and remuneration. There are a few ways that you can do this.

First, invest in a strategic management system that has these performance review links built into its HR processes.

But even if you're doing performance reviews the old-fashioned way, you can still make a point of awarding specific credit to employees who embrace strategy execution in their role and can clearly demonstrate how they've contributed.

Second, encourage your managers to talk to people about strategy on a regular basis. Consider creating a 1:1 template that managers can use which highlights how a person's goals contribute to the strategy.

Finally, expose your strategy to your people. If you only present your strategy in PowerPoint, people won’t remember them.

Help your people align with the plan by having them access it at will.

Working your way through our 6 step process guide to strategy implementation isn't something you'll be able to do overnight. It will take a good few weeks and probably a few iterations. But don't let that be an excuse not to start.

We can tell you without question that when our clients follow the above process, their strategy implementation plan succeeds far more often than it fails. This is an integral component in strategic management and shouldn't be overlooked.

Take a tour of the Cascade platform to see how it can help you implement these steps.

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implementation of strategic plan process

What Is an Implementation Plan & How Do I Create One? (Example Included)


Build an implementation plan in minutes with ProjectManager. Plan projects, manage resources and track progress with powerful features that your whole team can use.

A project management plan is critical for the success of any project. Similarly, an implementation plan, also called a strategic plan or strategic implementation plan, outlines requisite steps for the execution of a strategy, tactic or change within an organization, or project.

Without an implementation plan, your organization could be rolling out big changes with nothing but an online reference guide and a stressed-out developer trying to make everything happen. In addition to a great implementation plan, you should also use project management software to help you through the implementation process.

So what is an implementation plan, how do you make one, and how do you execute it successfully? Let’s take a look.

What Is an Implementation Plan?

An implementation plan is a project management tool that facilitates the execution of a strategic plan for a company or a project by breaking down the implementation process into smaller steps while defining the timeline, the teams and the resources that will be needed.

Related: Free Implementation Plan Template

Strategic planning is done on an organizational level, dictating the direction of the company strategy and allocating resources to make that strategy come to life. Thus, the implementation plan traces the edges of that, mapping out how to best implement a strategic plan from the outset, and how to effectively manage it as it gets put into place.

Project management software like ProjectManager greatly simplifies the implementation planning process. Schedule and execute your implementation plan with our robust online Gantt charts. Assign work, link dependencies and track progress in real time with one chart. Plus, if your team wants to work with something other than a Gantt chart, our software offers four other project views for managing work: task lists, kanban boards, calendars and sheets. Try it for free today.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart is great for monitoring implementation plans

Components of an Implementation Plan

There’s not really a standard one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating your implementation plan. However, we’ve created an implementation plan outline for your projects. Here are its components.

How to Write an Implementation Plan

Follow these steps to create an implementation plan for your project or business. You can also consider using project management software like ProjectManager to help you with the implementation process.

1. Research and Discovery

Start by identifying what you’ll need for the execution of your implementation plan:

By interviewing stakeholders, key partners, customers and team members, you can determine the most crucial assignments needed and prioritize them accordingly. It’s also at this stage that you should list out all the goals you’re looking to achieve to cross-embed the strategic plan with the implementation plan. Everything must tie back to that strategic plan in order for your implementation plan to work.

2. Map Out Assumptions and Risks

This acts as an extension to the research and discovery phase, but it’s also important to point out assumptions and risks in your implementation plan. This can include anything that might affect the execution of the implementation plan, such as paid time off or holidays you didn’t factor into your timeline , budget constraints, losing personnel, market instability or even tools that require repair before your implementation can commence.

3. Assign Responsibility

Each activity in your implementation plan must include a primary champion to be the owner of it. For tasks to be properly assigned, this champion will need to do the delegating. This means that they ensure that all systems are working as per usual, keep track of their teams’ productivity and more. Project planning software is practically essential for this aspect.

To learn more about how project planning software can help you map out every step of your project implementation plan, including the designation of tasks, watch the short video below. With the help of software, it’s easy to craft a detailed plan that everyone can reference, so everyone gets their work done on time.

Project management training video (kkuo0lgcxf)

4. Determine Activities

Next you need to finalize all the little activities to round out your plan. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Once all activities are outlined, all resources are listed and all stakeholders have approved (but no actions have been taken just yet), you can consider your implementation plan complete and ready for execution.

Implementation Plan Example

Implementation plans are used by companies across industries on a daily basis. Here’s a simple implementation plan example we’ve created using ProjectManager to help you better understand how implementation plans work. Let’s imagine a software development team is creating a new app.

A screenshot of a gantt chart in ProjectManager

Benefits of an Implementation Plan

The implementation plan plays a large role in the success of your overall strategic plan. But more than that, communicating both your strategic plan and the implementation of it therein to your team members helps them feel as if they have a sense of ownership within the company’s long-term direction.

Increased Cooperation

An implementation plan that’s well communicated also helps to increase cooperation across all teams through all the steps of the implementation process. It’s easy to work in a silo—you know exactly what your daily process is and how to execute it. But reaching across the aisle and making sure your team is aligned on the project goals that you’re also trying to meet? That’s another story entirely. But with an implementation plan in place, it helps to bridge the divide just a little easier.

Additionally, with an implementation plan that’s thoroughly researched and well defined, you can ensure buy-in from stakeholders and key partners involved in the project. And no matter which milestone you’re at, you can continue to get that buy-in time and time again with proper documentation.

At the end of the day, the biggest benefit of an implementation plan is that it makes it that much easier for the company to meet its long-term goals. When everyone across all teams knows exactly what you want to accomplish and how to do it, it’s easy to make it happen.

Implementation Plan FAQ

There’s more to know about implementation plans. It’s a big subject and we’ve tried to be thorough as possible, but if you have any further questions hopefully we have answered them below.

What Is the Difference Between an Action Plan and an Implementation Plan?

The main difference between an action plan and an implementation plan is that an action plan focuses exclusively on describing work packages and tasks, while the implementation plan is more holistic and addresses other variables that affect the implementation process such as risks, resources and team roles & responsibilities.

What Is an Implementation Plan in Business?

A business implementation plan is the set of steps that a company follows to execute its strategic plan and achieve all the business goals that are described there.

What Is an Implementation Plan in Project Management?

Implementation plans have many uses in project management. They’re a planning tool that allows project managers to control smaller projects within their project plan. For example, they might need an implementation plan to execute risk mitigation actions, change requests or produce specific deliverables.

How to Make an Implementation Plan with ProjectManager

Creating and managing an implementation plan is a huge responsibility and one that requires diligence, patience and great organizational skills.

When it comes to a project implementation plan, there are many ways to make one that’s best suited for your team. With ProjectManager , you get access to both agile and waterfall planning so you can plan in sprints for large or small projects, track issues and collaborate easily. Try kanban boards for managing backlogs or for making workflows in departments.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Switching up the activities after a milestone meeting with stakeholders? You can easily update your implementation plan with our software features. Add new tasks, set due dates, and track how far along your team is on their current activities.

Implementation plans are the backbone of an organization’s strategic overall plan. With ProjectManager, give your organization the project management software they need to gain insight into all resources needed, view activities on their lists and collaborate with ease. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.

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Strategic Management Insight

Strategic Management & Strategic Planning Process

implementation of strategic plan process

Strategic management process is a method by which managers conceive of and implement a strategy that can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage. [1 ]

Strategic planning process is a systematic or emerged way of performing strategic planning in the organization through initial assessment, thorough analysis, strategy formulation, its implementation and evaluation.

What is that strategic planning process?

The process of strategic management lists what steps the managers should take to create a complete strategy and how to implement that strategy successfully in the company. It might comprise from 7 to nearly 30 steps [4] and tends to be more formal in well-established organizations.

The ways that strategies are created and realized differ. Thus, there are many different models of the process. The models vary between companies depending upon:

All the examples of the process in this article represent top-down approach and belong to the ‘design school’.

Components of strategic planning process

There are many components of the process which are spread throughout strategic planning stages. Most often, the strategic planning process has 4 common phases: strategic analysis, strategy formulation, implementation and monitoring (David [5] , Johnson, Scholes & Whittington [6] , Rothaermel [1] , Thompson and Martin [2] ). For clearer understanding, this article represents 5 stages of strategic planning process:

Initial Assessment

Situation analysis.

Strategy Monitoring

Components: Vision statement & Mission statement Tools used: Creating a Vision and Mission statements.

The starting point of the process is initial assessment of the firm. At this phase managers must clearly identify the company’s vision and mission statements.

Business’ vision answers the question: What does an organization want to become? Without visualizing the company’s future, managers wouldn’t know where they want to go and what they have to achieve. Vision is the ultimate goal for the firm and the direction for its employees.

In addition, mission describes company’s business. It informs organization’s stakeholders about the products, customers, markets, values, concern for public image and employees of the organization (David, p. 93) [5] . Thorough mission statement acts as guidance for managers in making appropriate (Rothaermel, p. 34) [1] daily decisions.

Components: Internal environment analysis, External environment analysis and Competitor analysis Tools used: PEST , SWOT , Core Competencies, Critical Success Factors, Unique Selling Proposition, Porter’s 5 Forces , Competitor Profile Matrix , External Factor Evaluation Matrix , Internal Factor Evaluation Matrix, Benchmarking , Financial Ratios, Scenarios Forecasting, Market Segmentation, Value Chain Analysis , VRIO Framework

When the company identifies its vision and mission it must assess its current situation in the market. This includes evaluating an organization’s external and internal environments and analyzing its competitors.

During an external environment analysis managers look into the key external forces: macro & micro environments and competition. PEST or PESTEL frameworks represent all the macro environment factors that influence the organization in the global environment. Micro environment affects the company in its industry. It is analyzed using Porter’s 5 Forces Framework.

Competition is another uncontrollable external force that influences the company. A good example of this was when Apple released its IPod and shook the mp3 players industry, including its leading performer Sony. Firms assess their competitors using competitors profile matrix and benchmarking to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses and level of performance.

Internal analysis includes the assessment of the company’s resources, core competencies and activities. An organization holds both tangible resources: capital, land, equipment, and intangible resources: culture, brand equity, knowledge, patents, copyrights and trademarks (Rothaermel, p. 90) [1] . A firm’s core competencies may be superior skills in customer relationship or efficient supply chain management. When analyzing the company’s activities managers look into the value chain and the whole production process.

As a result, situation analysis identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the organization and reveals a clear picture of company’s situation in the market.

Components: Objectives, Business level, Corporate level and Global Strategy Selection Tools used: Scenario Planning, SPACE Matrix, Boston Consulting Group Matrix , GE-McKinsey Matrix, Porter’s Generic Strategies, Bowman’s Strategy Clock, Porter’s Diamond, Game Theory, QSP Matrix.

Successful situation analysis is followed by creation of long-term objectives. Long-term objectives indicate goals that could improve the company’s competitive position in the long run. They act as directions for specific strategy selection. In an organization, strategies are chosen at 3 different levels:

Managers may choose between many strategic alternatives. That depends on a company’s objectives, results of situation analysis and the level for which the strategy is selected.

Components: Annual Objectives, Policies, Resource Allocation, Change Management, Organizational chart, Linking Performance and Reward Tools used: Policies, Motivation, Resistance management, Leadership, Stakeholder Impact Analysis, Changing organizational structure, Performance management

Even the best strategic plans must be implemented and only well executed strategies create competitive advantage for a company.

At this stage managerial skills are more important than using analysis. Communication in strategy implementation is essential as new strategies must get support all over organization for effective implementation. The example of the strategy implementation that is used here is taken from David’s book, chapter 7 on implementation [5] . It consists of the following 6 steps:

The first point in strategy implementation is setting annual objectives for the company’s functional areas. These smaller objectives are specifically designed to achieve financial, marketing, operations, human resources and other functional goals. To meet these goals managers revise existing policies and introduce new ones which act as the directions for successful objectives implementation.

The other very important part of strategy implementation is changing an organizational chart. For example, a product diversification strategy may require new SBU to be incorporated into the existing organizational chart. Or market development strategy may require an additional division to be added to the company. Every new strategy changes the organizational structure and requires reallocation of resources. It also redistributes responsibilities and powers between managers. Managers may be moved from one functional area to another or asked to manage a new team. This creates resistance to change, which has to be managed in an appropriate way or it could ruin excellent strategy implementation.

Components: Internal and External Factors Review, Measuring Company’s Performance Tools used: Strategy Evaluation Framework, Balanced Scorecard, Benchmarking

Implementation must be monitored to be successful. Due to constantly changing external and internal conditions managers must continuously review both environments as new strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may arise. If new circumstances affect the company, managers must take corrective actions as soon as possible.

Usually, tactics rather than strategies are changed to meet the new conditions, unless firms are faced with such severe external changes as the 2007 credit crunch.

Measuring performance is another important activity in strategy monitoring. Performance has to be measurable and comparable. Managers have to compare their actual results with estimated results and see if they are successful in achieving their objectives. If objectives are not met managers should:

The key element in strategy monitoring is to get the relevant and timely information on changing environment and the company’s performance and if necessary take corrective actions.

Different models of the process

There is no universal model of the strategic management process. The one, which was described in this article, is just one more version of so many models that are established by other authors. In this section we will illustrate and comment on 3 more well-known frameworks presented by recognized scholars in the strategic management field. More about these models can be found in the authors’ books.

Source: David (p. 46)

Source: Rothaermel (p. 20)

Source: Thompson and Martin (p.36)


It is rare that the company will be able to follow the process from the first to the last step. Producing a quality strategic plan requires time , during which many external and even internal conditions may change. This results in the flawed strategic plan which has to be revised, hence requiring even more time to finish.

On the other hand, when implementing the strategic plan, the actual results do not meet the requirements of the strategic plan so the plan has to be altered or better methods for the implementation have to be discovered. This means that some parts of strategic management process have to be done simultaneously, which makes the whole process more complex .

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Insights / All Leadership / Article

9 steps to successful functional strategic planning.

July 11, 2022

Contributor: Jackie Wiles

Take these steps to ensure your strategic planning process is productive, adaptable and tied to enterprise goals.

Pivots in strategic plans now happen with increasing frequency, and functional leaders must keep up.

Aim to create and communicate a clear action plan that states where the function currently is, where it needs to be, how to get there and how you will measure progress.

Even once the strategic plan is adopted, revisit it regularly to ensure it remains valid — and adapt as needed to changing scenarios and business conditions.

Seventy-six percent of corporate strategy leaders say significant pivots to strategic plans now happen with increasing frequency. While functional leaders should never develop strategic plans in a vacuum, today’s disruptions — from price and wage inflation to risks related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine — make it especially critical for functional strategic plans to account for a variety of scenarios and be able to change with pivots in enterprise strategy.

“The key is to abide by some key principles of any strategic planning process — whether at the enterprise, business-unit or functional levels,” says Marc Kelly , VP at Gartner. “Eliminate everything that isn't necessary and sufficient to communicate an effective strategy.” 

Download now: Build a Better Strategic Plan for Your Function

Commit to being strategic-minded

Before you even start your functional planning process, commit to keeping a strategic mindset. Don’t allow yourself to be hijacked by short-termism, tactical execution plans and other check-the-box activities. All too often, concerns about meeting short-term targets, fear of failure and a preoccupation with operational issues overwhelm aspiration. 

This principle applies to your mindset on cost management and budgeting . Commit to a strategic approach wherever and whenever you decide which initiatives to pursue and fund. 

View your function’s cost architecture through the lens of business value, and view cost optimization as a continuous discipline focused on directing resources (time, capabilities and budget) to differentiating growth initiatives , such as digitalization. Be clear on the best budgeting approach(es) for your function’s needs, considering what type of purpose-driven budgeting best supports your strategy execution.

Download now: Your Guide to Optimizing Costs Strategically, Not Tactically

Then take a methodical step-by-step approach

The best functional plans identify select initiatives that will drive enterprise ambitions and commit the capacity (time, budget, talent and technology) necessary to execute successfully. These nine steps provide a guide by which functional leaders can ensure a rigorous approach to planning, however adaptive their enterprise’s strategy .

Step 1: Outline expectations 

Clearly define the enterprise and business context upfront for all stakeholders to prevent managers and executives from misunderstanding one another and derailing the process. 

Outline for your function the responsibilities, process timelines and expected outcomes for each participant, especially in cases where the planning and budgeting processes cross functions. Identify which stakeholder(s) will ultimately sign off on your strategy and budget plans.

Step 2: Verify the business context 

Enterprise mission , which defines your organization’s reason for being and the goals it will continually pursue. 

Example: One electric-car maker’s mission “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy ” reflects its absolute commitment to moving toward sustainable practices and reminds employees of the company’s broader purpose.

Enterprise vision , which embodies the organization’s abstract but realistic aspirations, including underlying values, principles and beliefs that support its decision-making processes.

Example: One aerospace company’s vision “to be the premier international defense, aerospace and security company” is realistic and more alluring than the status quo. It is directional and focused.

Make sure your function’s employees know how the mission and vision apply to their specific work. Be clear what impact business priorities, challenges and pivots will have on your function’s imperatives, opportunities, risks and priorities.

Step 3: Set goals and objectives

Enterprise strategy translates business aspirations into:

Goals: Individual or combined undertakings that, when achieved, drive differentiated value in the longer term.

Example: Become the largest supplier of renewable electricity in Europe.

Objectives: Discrete and measurable steps that describe how you will achieve a specific goal (see step 4 for the actions required for this).

Example: Increase wind capacity by 200% overall in three years with 10 new wind farms across five regions in Europe.

Once clear on the enterprise plan, you can evaluate the current state of your functional activities, identify the future state, and set goals and objectives accordingly.

Step 4: Develop an action plan

This is the stage at which you take your general assessment of goals and objectives and translate them into detailed action steps with assigned responsibilities. This functional action plan should be a formal document that summarizes the sequence of steps or initiatives required to attain an objective. This is the primary source of information for how you will execute, monitor, control and close out objectives.

Action plans are subject to change as surprise events occur, so be prepared to respond with an adaptive strategy .

Step 5: Assess your capabilities 

Identify key functional capabilities required to execute on your action plan. Ask business partners to assess how they perceive your function’s strengths and weaknesses. Your assessment and that of your business partners should broadly align. Regardless, generate a prioritized list of functional capabilities to bolster or gaps to fill as a result of your findings.

Step 6: Set measures and metrics

The terms measure and metric are often used interchangeably, but they are different.

A measure is an observable business outcome (for example, employee engagement ). Measures allow you to evaluate the efficacy of your action plans. Agree on them in advance to avoid reporting biases.

A metric describes the actual data collected to quantify the measure (say, percentage of “satisfied” employees according to an annual survey ).

Make sure measures and metrics are complete enough to account for a range of variables. For example, don’t only use customer satisfaction to measure engagement. Also track critical factors, such as discretionary effort and intent to stay.

Step 7: Put your strategy on one — yes, one — page

Simply and clearly state the key elements of your strategic plan: where the functional organization is, where it is going and how it will get to the future state. 

Capture an overview on a single page that communicates how you are adding value today and demonstrates how you plan to impact the business over the next year. Include a statement of strategy, a before-and-after description of the state of your function, one or two critical assumptions underpinning the strategy, and five to seven initiatives required to meet the functional objectives established to support business goals.


Step 8: Drive the plan home

Do this by evangelizing the objectives and strategy across your function and company. The  one-page strategy template  is a helpful tool, as it makes the plan easy for others to consume, but you’ll still need a deliberate process for communicating the plan — and ensuring that key constituencies understand and agree with it. 

You must develop a clear and consistent message that drives buy-in and commitment among functional leadership and engagement and motivation among the workforce, with all stakeholders clear on how your priorities are changing and why.

Step 9: Prepare to respond to change

Once the strategic plan is adopted and shared, it’s critical to measure progress against the objectives, revisit and monitor the plan to ensure it remains valid, and adapt the strategy as business conditions change. To do this:

Monitor triggers to track the effectiveness of the strategic plan.

Cancel underperforming projects quickly.

Track and validate assumptions periodically. 

Lastly, make sure you have an agreed-upon action plan for specific steps to take or decisions to make to increase the chances of success when monitoring triggers an alarm.

This article has been updated annually to reflect new events, conditions and research.

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implementation of strategic plan process

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Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning process.

Cory Hines, university president, announced the strategic planning committee in spring

The committee first met for three months of prayer through spring and summer where they prayed together for each university employee and department on campus.

Following a review of previous HPU strategic plans, the committee conducted a S.O.A.R. (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) exercise as a committee and with faculty and staff in fall 2021.

Survey and Analysis

Based on the S.O.A.R. results, a web-based survey was distributed for feedback. Over 660 responses were aggregated into an interactive dashboard giving the committee an opportunity to drill into the data to uncover themes and initiatives important to various groups of stakeholders (faculty, staff, alumni, students, community members, and university trustees).

Listening Sessions

During summer 2022, listening sessions were held to receive feedback on five priorities (later consolidated into four priorities) and subsequent initiatives that emerged from the survey and analysis.

In the late summer and early fall of 2022, the committee reviewed and refined the priorities and initiatives, while including measurable actions offered by stakeholders during listening sessions.

In fall 2022, the committee wrote and edited a rough draft of the strategic plan for presentation to the University trustees at the October board meeting. A final copy of the Strategic Plan 2023-2028 was completed in November- December 2022.


An implementation committee was selected and commissioned for carrying out the Strategic Plan 2023-2028 over the next five years, beginning in January 2023.

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2017 SAFECOM Strategic Plan and Implementation Guide

Author: SAFECOM Governance Committee

Under the leadership of Jay Kopstein, the SAFECOM Governance Committee developed and published the 2017 SAFECOM Strategic Plan and Implementation Guide , summarizing SAFECOM’s short- and mid-term priorities and its associated annual products and activities.  The Plan describes SAFECOM’s strategies to prioritize resources, strengthen governance, identify future investments, and address interoperability gaps over the long term. The document also includes an action plan outlining committee-specific products and activities to accomplish the goals and strategic priorities described in the Plan.

SAFECOM. Assuring a safer America through effective public safety communications. 2017 SAFECOM Strategic Plan and Implementation Guide. March 2017.

In addition, SAFECOM leadership identified the need to focus on producing a smaller number of high-quality committee products in 2017 over a specific quantity; build simpler, easily digestible products to provide to a broader audience than just program members; and invite high-profile speakers and focus more time toward committee meetings for the spring 2017 meeting. The 2017 SAFECOM Strategic Plan and Implementation Guide was approved during the March 9, 2017, SAFECOM Executive Committee conference call and can be found here .

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