An organization can be looked at from an orchestra point of view. There are various teams each with a specific role to play. Each team must, in turn, work together with other teams to produce a unitary composed piece of music. This happens under the watchful eye of the conductor.
Businesses operate on the same principles. The overall objective is to provide a service, or produce goods to meet market demand. Teams are divided into departments, each with a leader. Departmental heads then answer to the overall leader, the chief executive officer. To achieve these objectives, several plans and strategies must be laid down. We shall look at strategic plans, tactical plans and operational plans and how each fits into the main picture.
Strategic plans refer to the process of defining a firm’s goals and how these will be achieved. The management decides on guiding philosophies, corporate values and how the firm will act in attaining its objectives.
Strategic plans are geared towards defining who a firm’s clients are or who they should be. They are time specific covering time frames of between 2 to 5 years, but this may vary with an organisation. Strategic plans involve the management at all levels.
In strategic planning, the anticipated outcome must be clearly defined under an objectives umbrella. They must also show how the achieved results will be measured. In addition you must establish a starting point. Research should be done to understand the market the firm operates in and what kind of competition it faces. After this, objectives are listed together with tactics to achieve these objectives. The plans should reflect anticipated challenges as well as the end result.
Tactical plans, on the other hand, are a combination of all actions that will be taken to implement the laid down strategy. If the firm’s strategy is to be the market leader in the industry, then the tactical plans will outline what steps are to be taken in order to achieve this.
Tactics used by companies include, recruitment of the most qualified personnel, headhunting from competitors or carrying out aggressive marketing campaigns. No single tactic can work on its own, thus the management combines all personnel, financial resources and other tools at their disposal. Tactical plans are usually action oriented.
While strategic planning deals with defining the goals, tactical plans identify action needed to achieve those goals. Tactical plans are best drafted by personnel entrusted with the daily organization’s activities. The plan helps in knowing the what, when and how of the tactical plan.
Operational plans involve conversion of strategized goals and objectives into execution. This is the ultimate stage of all business planning processes. It is the defining of a business roadmap on how to achieve the desired outcome. At this stage, it is all systems go as the organisation embarks on achieving its goals. Nothing is left to chance. It is also serves as a reality check to test the credibility of the laid down plans, more so a moment of truth.