Strategic planning takes time and resources, usually from senior team members, thought leaders, and company executives. By making such a big investment in your strategic planning, you should have some significant expectations in return. One of the biggest returns from your investment in strategic planning, especially as a startup or scale up company, is the clarity that is provided from well-crafted goals with targeted strategies, specific execution, and a strong business case for any additional resources needed to achieve your goals. This clarity saves time and money, and enables transparency and focus for investing in what really matters to achieve business goals.

Key Takeaways

  • Start with SMART Goals as a part of a strategic planning framework to ensure decisions about investing in resources don’t drive decisions, but instead enable better decisions. 
  • Resource decisions are directly tied to strategic outcomes, enabling better-informed decisions about the people and tools needed over short-term and long-term horizons.
  • Pet projects and many discretionary expenses will get weeded out by good strategic planning. 

SMART Goals First, With Resources Last

Your strategic plan should be built in large part around the SMART Goals framework (SMART breaking down as: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) that puts a definitive and unambiguous objective within the company’s sights over the next 12 to 18 months. Activities will then be tied to primary goals set by stakeholders within the business. A mix of participants as stakeholders in planning delivers buy-in and representative perspective to ensure that the objectives being set are within the capabilities of the company, either at present or by making a series of decisions about how to allocate resources in the future in service of those long-range plans.

With a structured planning process in place, strategies and execution activities are easier to share across departments, within teams, and even at the individual level for a better understanding of what needs to be done and how it serves the company’s goals and mission. Determining capability and capacity is a more objective way to evaluate if internal resources can be used to effectively execute, or if decisions about allocating or acquiring external resources to help achieve progress are necessary. Expenses such as salaries and benefits for employees, capital costs for equipment or facilities, as well as operational costs for contract workers and subscription software are aligned to delivering outcomes that are important to achieving business goals. 

Manage Scarcity, And Improve Decision Making

Having the goals, strategies and execution steps in a roadmap gives business leaders the clear business case around their resource needs for budgeting discussions, whether commandeering internal resources or acquiring tools and people externally, with their justification tied to accomplishing steps that have already been agreed upon by leadership. An evaluation of resources for activities can provide a more complete picture of what people and tools will be necessary for success. With that picture clearly defined, the business case decision is less subjective and better justified to make more efficient use of people, time and money.

Oftentimes, the execution of activities in a strategic plan are in addition to the expected “regular” job responsibilities. Internal resources are always the first consideration, however, utilizing internal resources must be weighed against capacity and capability. If the benefit to the strategic plan exceeds the risk to daily activities, then the business decision should be much more objective and easier to make. If taking resources away from necessary business operations puts the organization at risk, then bringing in outside resources would likely be the better decision. You’ll need to clearly understand what may be at risk by dedicating an internal resource to an execution activity before making resource decisions. 

This is especially the case with hiring in today’s job market where talent is fiercely fought over and attitudes of employees can change unexpectedly. Because of the time commitment and expense of many hiring processes – especially for highly skilled people – it will make sense to consider whether a strategy or tactic will remain in place long enough to justify making a permanent hire.

Eliminate Low-ROI Expenses

Another value of utilizing a strategic planning framework that includes resource allocation is that it reduces pet projects that are not tied directly to measurable goals. A good example of pet project spending can be found in event marketing, sponsorships and associations that don’t have a clear link to company goals, and have no method to achieve a return on investment for the expense. Although, “We’ve always done it that way,” may be true, evaluating decisions against outcomes and not outputs can yield better results. 

Disciplined strategic planning creates accountability, with realistic plans for building measurable ROI out of the investment. By always examining the opportunity for an expected ROI, organizations can spend limited resources, both internal and external, more effectively toward measurable goals. Successfully achieving SMART goals requires alignment and activation of resources to execute key strategies. 

Sellerant experts can help your business create a strategic execution roadmap to pave the way for better resource allocation decisions to support your growth goals.