By Jordan Horn

Strategic planning is only a single aspect to the three-part process to answer Why, What, and How an organization will be successful through Vision, Strategy, and Tactics.

The organization’s Vision statement answers the overall basic question why you are in business. It is a document that communicates from top management down to front line employees the organization’s core values, purpose, and goals. Strategy addresses a long-term plan or roadmap to success in alignment with the core vision. And finally, Tactics translates the long-term strategy into the short-term actionable strategic plan that will occur in the next twelve months.

All organizations regardless of their industry can benefit from strategic business planning and management. Translating your unique vision into an actionable plan is vital to sustainable success. In formulating your organizational strategy, you should utilize a six-step method referred to as SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).

Step 1: Identify your organization’s mission and objectives. Outline each unique product or service. A simple way to narrow your focus and aid in future decision making.

Step 2: Examine your organization’s environment by identifying related opportunities and threats. Examples of opportunities in your environment include market development, industry trends, global influences, product development, and innovations. On the other hand, threats to your environment could include political changes, proposed legislation, market demand, economic conditions, or competitors’ innovations.

Step 3: Examine your organization’s resources by identifying related strengths and weaknesses. Examples of strengths in your organization’s resources include capabilities, competitive advantages, assets, employees, market, location, systems, process, price, value, or quality. On the other hand, weaknesses in an organization’s resources could include gap in competitive advantage, financials, cash flow, supply chain, available workforce, reputation, or reliability of data.

Step 4: Combine External and Internal aspects identified in steps 2 and 3. Then develop functional strategies for each organizational function (products or services) keeping in mind the overall organizational strategy.

Step 5: Implement the strategies determined in step 4. This step requires leadership with understanding of the overall vision and strategy to direct and communicate the plan to the entire organization.

Step 6: Evaluate and monitor your organization’s results to develop and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. Do this by categorizing key performance indicators that fall into four strategic objectives Financial Performance, Internal Business Process or Efficiency, Organizational Learning and Growth (Employee Focused Objectives), and Customer Relations/Satisfaction. Also known as a balanced scorecard. Tracking and communicating results, preferably on a real time basis, will inform and motivate each employee to work on achieving defined strategic goals.

A vital aspect to strategic business planning and management is that it is a living document that cannot be developed in a single day and strictly followed or forgotten over the next 10 years. As your business develops and faces change in its internal resources or external environment management must address the changes to the strategic plan to maintain relevance and to update the roadmap. If you believe you reached an obstacle in the road or your ending destination has changed then you must adjust your roadmap in order to be successful. Forging through just because you made an initial plan will not lead to the desired outcome in the long-term. It will take critical self-reflection and constant monitoring to achieve the desired results and future success.

Jordan Horn is an accomplished accountant and financial expert with experience in multiple industries. She holds an MBA in Finance from Keller Graduate School of Mangement and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting from DeVry University.

She enjoys helping others succeed by providing clear and accurate financial information to key stakeholders and by offereing innovative solutions to problems.

Jordan is adventurous and enjoys outdoor activities, such as motor sports, camping and exploring. Jordan lives with her husband Dustin, and their two boys, near beautiful Astoria, Oregon. Follow along on her adventures at and on Instagram @discoverpines