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Strategy Spotlight: 11 steps to strategic analysis, planning and implementation success

Strategic analysis, planning, and management involves the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by a company’s top

management on behalf of the organization.

It is based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organization competes. The strategic business analyst has an important role to play in this process.

To be strategic means to provide overall direction to the enterprise and involves specifying the organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans designed to achieve these objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans. All of this needs to be analyzed and the requirements clearly defined.

I think this gets missed by organizations when they are seeking to have their strategic plans translated into requirement reality.

Related Article: 7 Steps To Kick-Start Your Strategic Planning Process

Imperative to implementation success is a proven approach to developing your strategy, management, and transformation needs. This must be in alignment with the strategic business analyst needs for current and future state understanding, assessing the risks components and defining the change strategy to make it all happen. But strategy all starts with knowing the steps you need to take.

Here are 11 steps that are imperative to your strategic analysis, planning, and implementation success.

1. Select the planning model and approach you will use.

This is imperative. I have witnessed many situations where the model and approach were never defined or were highly theoretical negatively impacting the stakeholder’s comprehension and participation willingness. Don’t make this mistake.

2. Identify your key stakeholders.

Proper stakeholder analysis is a must whether you are facilitating strategic planning sessions or reviewing and analyzing presented plans to determine their viability or build business cases for better business decisions.

3. Establish the questions you need to be answered.

There are at least seven key questions that must be asked and answered (see Question Everything About Your Business – 7 Candid Questions That Need To Be Asked), but that is not all. Find out what the outcome requirements are and host a ‘Questions to Ask’ session with your team to create a list of the questions you need to be answered. Categorize those questions by business impact and importance and identify the stakeholder source.

4. Determine where it is you and your team need to go.

This is all about your company’s ‘Vision of Success.’ It includes key strategic business information of vision and mission, values and guiding principles, and goals and objectives. This information should not be fluff. As a strategic business analyst, you need to know what is on the strategic agenda (goals and objectives) and why. Then you need to help translate that into tactical requirements (if you were not part of the initial planning). This is one place where you bridge the gap from the strategic to the tactical.

5. Focus on the business impact zones.

I have spoken about this for years, written articles about it and a book on the topic. Still, it amazes me that organizations and professionals (I mean business analysts) miss this point. There are generally four business impact zones (process and productivity, tools and technology, business development, and people and culture) with very specific requirements. Each impact zone affects the others through the decision-making process and actions taken. If you push on one you create ripples that impact the others. For example, recently a professional service company was forced to let go 120 of its employees. Externally the market changed (external) and the organization did not adjust quickly enough (internal), revenue declined (business development) and they were forced to let people go (people and culture) and adjust their working parameters (process and productivity) and renegotiate contracts on their working assets (tools and technology) to decrease costs.

6. Create a strategy map outlining focus areas.

Business leaders and teams lose focus, often caused by an external event (market shift, lost client) or people challenges (poor management, lack of communications, not asking the right questions, no alignment). A strategy map provides a visual of the key decisions and focus areas and is an important business artifact for the business analyst. As business requirements go, a strategy map can be translated strategically, tactically and operationally. This is Business Analysis 101.

7. Build an action roadmap to guide your business.

A strategy roadmap is a high-level implementation plan that displays the strategic agenda (goals and objectives), the strategic initiatives (programs), the business champion (the leader or sponsor), the work elements (projects), an alignment path (to keep things aligned), and time and milestone requirements. The best part is it can be a Gantt chart that can be translated and implemented.

8. Establish work plans with key activities.

This is another one of those steps that organizations and senior teams skip because they say they do not have time to do it. Then they wonder why no one is focused on what needs to be done. Simple rule, you don’t work-plan to fail, you fail to work-plan. Can you imagine what would happen if you hired a company to build you a new house and there were not work-plans from the drawings that were created? If the strategy and roadmap are the blueprints, then the work-plans are the tasks and activities, the resources, timelines and costs of making it happen with someone in charge of implementation. Still, someone needs to establish the work-plans solution requirements.

9. Identify the risks through risk analysis.

There is always risk and if you are going to have work-plans to implement the strategic initiatives, then you need to do risk analysis. The level at which you do your risk analysis will be dependent on your role. You will need the standard inputs – objectives, risk results, external and internal influences, future state solution value and requirements priority. There are a lot of factors that play into risk analysis.

10. Create a communication plan to engage people.

This is another activity that is often skilled or misunderstood, or there is a communication plan but no one has communicated that it exists and someone else starts to create a new one. There should be a strategic communication plan for the organization that gets translated into tactical and operational requirements. The communication plan is used in transformations, change and implementation.

11. Go the distance through implementation.

You have gone through the strategic planning and analysis process using a proven approach, and you have created all the supporting requirements, but nothing is going anywhere. This is one of those things that sometimes happens. You need to put a process in place to make things happen whether it is through quarterly reviews, metric dashboards, timeline reviews and status meetings, progress audits and touch points, next level work-plans and resource assignments, communication implementation – the list goes on. The strategic business analyst can have an important role to play in this as does the project manager.

At the senior levels, I have been asked to facilitate ‘Go the Distance’ meetings with the executive teams to help keep them on track and do point audits with project and operational managers who have been tasked with getting things done with report backs to the executives. I guess this is a career development thing for the junior and intermediate business analyst. Still, you need to support the strategic implementation of the key strategic initiatives in the organization.

Final Thoughts

There are many steps to be taken in the strategic business analysis world to shape the direction of an organization. Over the course of my career, I have been privileged to have worked on initiatives that have allowed me to explore each step stated here both horizontally (mile wide, inch deep) and vertically (inch wide, mile deep). It takes a lot of work to define and action an organization’s direction. Unfortunately, the amount of effort is often misunderstood or put aside for bandage solutions. No matter the circumstance strategic business analysis, planning and implementation is important to the success of any organization. Good luck.