Strategic Implementation: More Than Just Implementing Strategy
By 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):
- Align initiatives with strategy
- Engage staff and outside stakeholders
- Allocate resources
- Make structural adjustments
- Create strategic evaluations
Strategy Implementation vs. Strategic Implementation
Whether or not a difference exists between strategy implementation and strategic implementation depends on who you ask.
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.
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.
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:
- Formulation: You select a play from your playbook, with the objective of getting a first down.
- Implementation: The players position themselves on the field as outlined in the chosen play, and you place the best offensive linemen up front, and the sturdiest running back in the backfield.
- Execution: The ball is snapped, the linemen push their defensive counterparts back, and if all goes well, they open up enough ground so that when the running back gets the handoff, he can move it across the line of scrimmage for a first down.
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:
- Stakeholders Don’t Buy-In: Those who are responsible for executing a strategy won’t want to do it if they don’t believe in it. Ray McKenzie says, “Not having completed buy-in from the team is first and foremost. If people don’t buy-in, it won’t get completed.”
- Resources Aren’t Aligned with Strategy: For example, if you want to sell red balloons, but fill your warehouse with blue ones, you won’t meet your goals.
- Incentives Aren’t Aligned with the Strategy: This happens when you reward people for completing tasks that don’t contribute toward the key performance indicators (KPIs) .
- You Don’t Plan to Adjust: Lloyd Baird says, “There’s an old military saying: Your battle plan is great until you contact the enemy, then everything changes. Things are changing so fast in organizations that if you don’t have a method to adapt, evaluate, and change, you’re going to fail. The people that are really good are the ones who are adapting along the way.”
- Continuing To Do Things that Used To Work: Rather than relying on old mechanisms for success, stay current with trends and tools.
- Internal Politics: Turf battles or personal disputes can prevent an organization from properly implementing a strategy.
- Accountability Void: When implementing a strategy, everybody involved must be made aware of their responsibilities, and the consequences of not meeting them.
- No Milestones: As Ray McKenzie explains, “A strategy only works for a period of time — you have to have an outline of those dates.”
- Lack of Empowerment: This happens when people and teams aren’t given the authority, resources, and tools to execute the strategy.
- Communication Breakdown: If the organization is not sharing the strategy, or is sharing it in the wrong ways, the team won’t understand it.
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.
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
- What It Is: The nce a critical mass of people gets behind something, it spreads quickly. Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book, The Tipping Point, provides many examples of this theory in action, from the changes in the Bill Bratton-led NYPD in the 1990s that resulted in a dramatic drop in crime, to the way Hush Puppies shoes became popular again once key people in the fashion world started wearing them. The makeup of a critical mass will vary by organization: It could be a majority, or it could be a small group of influential people.
- How It Can Help with Strategic Implementation: While implementing a strategy, executives can identify what constitutes a critical mass in each business unit, and work to get those people invested in the strategy. Once those team members are on board, they’ll bring the rest of the team along.
Blue Ocean Theory
- What It Is: It sprang out of a marketing theory with the same name, which posits that companies should create opportunities in market areas where there isn’t much competition to provide greater growth opportunities. For example, Southwest Airlines became a major player by combining customer-focused service, low prices (partly achieved by flying from secondary airports and partly by using only a single aircraft), and flying to underserved areas. As a leadership theory, Blue Ocean tasks leaders with undertaking the activities that increase team performance, listening to feedback from all parts of their organization, and developing leaders at all levels.
- How It Can Help with Strategic Implementation: Having leaders at many levels focus on activities that increase team performance and listen to every level, the strategies they develop will be easier to implement. This method helps the leaders generate some built-in buy-in. By walking the leadership walk, others are more likely to follow along.
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:
- Set benchmarks
- Compare results against benchmarks
- Analyze the differences
- Take corrective actions
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.
- Premise: Were the strategic goals realistic and achievable?
- Implementation: Was the process of implementing organizational changes based on the strategy performed properly?
- Strategic Surveillance: Are processes and tasks being performed as expected, and if so, are they getting the desired results?
- Special Alerts: While strategic evaluation should take the long view, and not focus too much on short-term fluctuations, it needs to evaluate how changing market conditions and competitors’ actions, as well as unexpected events, affect the strategy. Taking this view will highlight those surprises and changes — then you can implement contingency plans and bring in crisis management teams if required to change the strategy’s execution.
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:
- Clarify: Avoid high-level statements that only resonate with the C-suite. Write your strategy in a way that connects with front-line employees and managers.
- Communicate: Spread the message in as many ways as you can. Connect the strategy to each group's’ core purpose.
- Cascade: Translate the strategy into actions through the organization. Managers at every level will be the ones who handle this.
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:
- People: Train or hire the right (and the right number of) individuals to implement plans. Ray Mckenzie advises, “Build a team of people who are key and can help you move your strategy forward.”
- Resources: Get funding and sufficient time to implement required changes.
- Organization: Restructure the company to support the strategic goals.
- Systems: Acquire the tools needed to perform the required processes.
- Culture: Work to create an environment that prioritizes the actions needed to reach the stated goals.
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:
- Strategy: What needs to to be implemented
- Structure: The chain of command
- Systems: The tools used to perform tasks and complete processes
- Skills: What employees can do
- Style: How the leaders lead
- Staff: The employees
- Shared Values: The core values, expressed through the corporate culture
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:
- It focuses on the strategic agenda of the organization.
- It recommends monitoring a small number of data points.
- It looks at both financial and non-financial data.
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:
- Break the strategy into smaller chunks, so the disruption is spread over a longer time frame.
- Communicate directly to affected employees. Explain why the changes are needed, and retrain them to adapt to the new structure.
- Use a version of the strategic evaluation process that focuses on the affected employees, have them report their on satisfaction levels, and adjust the strategy based on that feedback to lessen the impacts.
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Strategy Implementation: The 6 Step Process
What is Strategy Implementation?
Strategy implementation is the process used to ensure a strategic plan is executed. It involves translating the high-level goals and objectives outlined in a company's strategic plan into specific actions and initiatives that can be carried out by employees at all levels of the organization.
As a whopping 9 out of 10 organizations fail to implement their strategies, you can’t just create a strategic plan and leave it on the shelf—make sure you have a solid strategy implementation process in place to bring it to life.
In our six-step strategy implementation process, you will transform your static, inactive plan into a living, dynamic, and successful strategy implementation. Read our article on factors affecting strategy implementation to develop an even deeper understanding of strategic implementation.
6-Step Strategy Implementation Process
The implementation process should follow a strategic analysis and strategy formulation phase. After you’ve identified your business problem and strategy to tackle it, you should follow these key steps to put your strategy into action:
- Choose your strategy framework
- Build your plan
- Define projects and KPIs
- Establish your strategy rhythm
- Implement strategy reporting
- Link performance to strategy
Here is our 6-step process guide to strategy implementation to ensure your new strategy evolves from a plan to strategic implementation.
Step #1: Choose your strategy framework
Strategy is something that should be embedded in everything an organization does.
It must be part of the DNA of both the organization and its people. But if you don't make an effort to call it out explicitly, you won't get the focus or traction you need.
Start with a simple framework that establishes a strategy lexicon everyone understands and can get behind. Whenever someone asks, "how are our strategic objectives going?", everyone must be on the same page regarding what it actually means.
For example, at Cascade , we use the following "strategy house" to define the different elements of our strategy:
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.
If you need to add more depth to your strategy, consider using a strategic planning framework such as the Balanced Scorecard or McKinsey's Strategic Horizons .
However, whichever strategic framework you choose, simplicity should remain your top priority. All of the frameworks in our guide pass this test with flying colors!
Step #2: Build your plan and set clear goals
The next step of our strategy implementation process is where you start creating your roadmap to success.
Now that you've got your framework in place, you're ready to move on to the actual creation of your strategic plan. We've developed a comprehensive guide on how to write a strategic plan , so we won't go into details here.
But assuming you're using a framework similar to the one above, here's how we'd suggest approaching the creation of your implementation plan with your key stakeholders:
1. Bring together your management team: Gather the leaders of your 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. Define values: At the same workshop, write down the values that the organization holds. They’re crucial for your company’s culture, so go through this article to make the process smoother.
3. Align on strategic priorities : Finally (same workshop still), write down 3 or 4 Strategic Focus Areas the team thinks need to be addressed to reach the vision.
4. Co-create objectives with your teams: Take your basic framework back to your team(s) and have them independently input ideas for strategic goals and objectives under each Focus Area. You must involve them in the planning process and give them a voice. This will ensure buy-in and motivation to implement your business strategies.
💡 Tip : 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.
📚 Recommended read: The Right Way To Set Team Goals
5. Make a final check: Once you've fleshed out the strategic objectives, get back together as a group and ask yourself a series of hard questions:
- If we deliver each of these strategic objectives under a given Focus Area, will we have nailed that Focus Area?
- If we deliver all of our Focus Areas, will we reach our vision?
- Will our values help or hinder us along the way?
📚 Recommended read: How To Effectively Co-create Strategy At Your Organization (Summary and recording of the workshop with Illana Rosen, Director of Innovation and Strategy at Old Navy)
Step #3: Define KPIs and projects
Now it’s time to cover the bottom layer of our strategy house: projects and key performance indicators (KPIs).
That's part of the strategy implementation process where top management should empower people throughout the organization to come up with their projects and KPIs to measure success.
Step 3 of our process guide to strategy implementation is to define your KPIs and create effective projects . You need actionable steps (projects) and a way to measure progress toward your strategic objectives (KPIs).
KPIs are one of the oldest management tools around. And for a good reason—they work. They keep you and your team members honest about progress and focused on outcomes.
They need to become your beacons for implementing strategy. Here are a few tips when it comes to coming up with your own:
- Keep them simple: Don't try to come up with complex ratios that only a small group of people understand. Make them simple and relatable to everyone in the organization.
- Choose at least 1 KPI for each of your strategic objectives : In general, it’s best to have 1-3 KPIs per objective. Too many KPIs can lead to confusion and dilute focus. However, the exact number will depend on the complexity of the objective and available resources. If an objective is particularly complex, it may require more KPIs to adequately measure progress.
- Make it easy to measure them quickly: Large organizations have hundreds of metrics, with each unit and function tracking them in their own set of preferred tools and applications. Bring them under one roof so you can get real-time insights.
- Don't make them all about the $$$: Sure, profit and revenue might be your end-game, but KPIs should be the drivers of those things—measuring the outcomes alone adds little value.
Here’s an example of focus areas, related strategic objectives, and assigned KPIs:
Focus area: Operational Excellence
Strategic objective: Reduce waste in the manufacturing process by 15% within the next year
- Scrap rate : Measures the percentage of defective products or materials that are discarded during the manufacturing process.
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) : Measures the overall efficiency of manufacturing equipment.
- Cycle time : Measures the amount of time it takes to complete one unit of production.
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.
Projects are the specific initiatives and actions that will help the organization achieve its strategic goals. Here are some steps to create effective projects in the strategy implementation process:
- Make sure your projects are aligned with your overall business strategy .
- Prioritize the projects that will have the most significant impact, and define specific project objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
- For each project, you should have a detailed project plan that includes timelines, milestones, and key stakeholders.
- Assign teams with the right skills and knowledge to execute the project, monitor progress, and adjust as needed.
- Once the project is complete, hold a retrospective meeting. Evaluate the outcomes, identify successes and areas for improvement, and use this information to inform future projects.
📚 Recommended read: Free Implementation Plan Templates And Examples
Step #4: Deal with business-as-usual
Step 4 in our 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 .
Here are some tips to help you break the cycle:
- Meet often to discuss progress: We'd suggest a minimum of quarterly reviews for higher-level objectives, but monthly would be a great place to start until things get bedded in.
- Determine the attendees: You'll need the leadership team at a minimum—but you also need to involve the rest of the organization. The more they engage with the overall strategy, the stronger the ownership they feel.
- Be conscious of time: Specify the end time and always respect it. Allocate the last 10 minutes (or as many as you need) to “next steps”. Reviewing progress without the next steps is meaningless.
- Define the meeting structure beforehand: What metrics will you discuss? For how long? Which reports will be used? More on this in step #5 below.
Step #5: Implement consistent & simple strategy reports
Step 5 of our process guide to strategy implementation focuses on strategy reporting .
Once you've put your strategy into action, it's important to review and adapt it regularly to ensure it's still on track to meet your business goals. This is where strategy reports come in handy.
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:
Set up a regular schedule for reviewing your strategy reports. This could be weekly, monthly, or quarterly—whatever works best for your business. Everyone should know what to expect and what they need to update before the meeting(s).
The progress report should give an at-a-glance view of how the strategy is progressing. Identify the key metrics that are most important to your business, and focus on those when reviewing your reports and dashboards .
Ensure that the report includes the names of the owner of each goal (accountability), as well as the names of the people getting things done (recognition).
Your next steps. Your action plan. What will be done to get to desired outcomes? 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.
Strategy reports will help you look for trends and patterns in your data. Are there areas where you're consistently exceeding expectations? Are there areas where you're consistently falling short? Use this information to make informed decisions about how to adapt your strategy.
And don't forget - adapting your strategy doesn't mean giving up on it entirely. It simply means making adjustments and tweaks to ensure you're staying on track and achieving your goals. Sometimes, a small tweak can make a big difference in your results, so don't be afraid to make changes as you go.
👉 How Cascade can help you:
You should be able to create, customize, and share strategy reports with your team with ease. Even if you are not a professional business data analyst. That’s where Cascade comes in.
With a user-friendly interface, you’ll be able to stay organized and focused on your strategic goals.
But you’ll be able to do more than just create progress reports; Cascade helps you do work that matters—accomplishing business outcomes. Imagine how you would use the extra 2 hours if you wouldn’t have to fill out the spreadsheets to analyze and report on progress.
Step #6: Link performance management with strategic management
Linking performance reviews to strategy, the 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 that 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. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Build 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 demonstrate how they've contributed.
- Encourage your managers to talk to people about strategy regularly. Consider creating a 1:1 template that managers can use which highlights how a person's goals contribute to the strategy.
- Expose your strategy to your people. Lack of communication is a common pitfall that prevents successful strategy execution. If you only present your strategy in PowerPoint, people won’t remember it. Help your people align with the plan by having them access it at will.
👉 How Cascade can help:
You should see at a glance how connected your functional units are to your strategic goals, giving you the context you need to make informed decisions.
With Cascade, you get a complete view of alignment within your organization and its teams.
You’ll be able to easily evaluate how the performance of each initiative and team contributes to the success of your strategy. This will help you identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions that drive your business forward.
Key Components To Support Successful Strategy Implementation
A well-written implementation plan is not enough to guarantee successful strategy execution . There are several key components crucial to support effective strategy implementation in an organization. Here’s why you should pay attention to:
Ensure that the strategy is aligned with the overall vision and mission of the organization, as well as the organization's core values. It’s essential to have clarity and unity across all levels of the organization.
Assign ownership of specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals or teams within the organization, and hold them accountable for achieving their objectives. This will promote ownership, commitment, and a sense of responsibility in your team.
Ensure that the necessary resources, including financial, human, and technological resources, are allocated appropriately to support the implementation of the strategy. Without the right resources, your strategy is just a piece of paper.
📚 Recommended read: Resource Allocation: How To Do It Effectively (+ Templates)
You should have a transparent performance measurement system in place to track progress. This way, you can easily identify any areas that are underperforming and take corrective action before it affects your overall objectives. Regularly monitor and report on these metrics to track your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Design your organizational structure to support the implementation of your strategy. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes to avoid confusion and maximize efficiency.
Effective systems, including processes, procedures, and tools, can help ensure that resources are allocated appropriately and that performance is monitored and evaluated effectively. Use the right systems to simplify your processes and streamline your workflow.
Remember, a well-written implementation plan is just the beginning. To guarantee successful strategy execution, pay attention to these key components. If you’re not sure if you have them covered, try McKinsey’s 7S Model to identify potential implementation constraints.
Benefits of a well-executed strategy implementation
Here are some of the key advantages of an effective strategy implementation process:
- Increased revenue: When everyone in the organization is working toward the same objectives, it becomes easier to identify and pursue new growth opportunities.
- Improved operational efficiency: When your team understands their roles and responsibilities and is working toward common goals, they're better able to collaborate and optimize their workflows. This means smoother sailing and less hiccups along the way.
- Better decision-making: With a solid strategy in place, leaders can use it as a guidepost when making important decisions, ensuring they stay aligned with the organization's overall goals and objectives. No more flailing around in the dark!
- Increased employee satisfaction: By involving employees in the strategy development process and regularly communicating progress updates, organizations can foster a sense of ownership and accountability among their teams. Happy employees = happy workplace.
- Enhanced reputation: When a business delivers on promises and consistently exceeds customer expectations, it establishes itself as a leader in its industry and builds a loyal customer base.
- Faster adaptability: By regularly reviewing and updating the strategy, organizations can stay ahead of the curve and be better positioned to pivot in response to new challenges or opportunities. Flexibility is key!
Strategy Implementation Best Practices And Final Tips
Here are some final tips and best practices to help you implement your strategies like a pro:
Be decisive and go all in
No action 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.
Guide decision-making with good strategies
Frame your strategy as choices. The company’s direction must be clear enough that it educates your people’s decisions when they reach crossroads. And they reach crossroads multiple times per day.
Get rid of static tools
Refining your strategy faces massive friction without a dynamic tool. That means wasting time, losing peace of mind, and ultimately losing money. Cascade removes this friction from all the stages of your strategy refinement, from planning to reporting , and even aligning .
Leverage data analytics
Use data analytics to inform your strategy implementation decisions. Data analytics can help you to identify trends, opportunities, and potential roadblocks, and to make data-driven decisions that support your strategic goals.
If you are struggling to discover insights because your data and metrics are scattered across multiple business and project management tools, Cascade will make your life easier.
By integrating your metrics into one centralized source of truth , you'll have access to all performance data in one place. This makes it simple to transform statistical information into actionable insights and compelling narratives with effective data storytelling.
Cascade’s real-time dashboards are designed to help you monitor key sets of data or metrics in real time, giving you the visibility you need to stay on top of what's important.
And with customizable features, you can tailor your dashboard view to suit your needs, making it easy to share insights with your team and keep everyone aligned.
Follow these tips and best practices, and let Cascade help you bring your strategy implementation game to the next level.
📚 Recommended read: Best Strategy Software: 8 Possible Roads To Strategy Execution (2023)
Implement strategies with Cascade 🚀
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 customers follow the above process, their strategy implementation plan succeeds far more often than it fails. This is an integral component of effective strategic management and shouldn't be overlooked.
By incorporating Cascade into your strategy implementation process, you can simplify your approach and maximize your chances of success. With Cascade's real-time dashboards, centralized business data, and full visibility into performance, you can stay focused and mitigate risks to ensure long-term success.
So why not take the first step today and incorporate Cascade into your strategic management process?
Experience the power of Cascade for yourself by taking a tour of our platform or booking a 1:1 demo call with one of our in-house strategy experts.
Other Related Strategy Implementation Templates
- Program Implementation Plan Template
- IT Implementation Plan Template
- Project Implementation Plan Template
- Digital Transformation Plan Template
- Strategic Growth Plan Template
Strategy Implementation FAQs
What is the difference between strategy implementation and strategy formulation.
Strategy formulation is the process of developing a strategic plan, while strategy implementation is the process of executing that plan by coordinating and communicating with different departments and individuals.
6 Steps To Successful Strategy Execution
5 PMO Templates And Tools To Deliver Your Portfolio Value
Strategic Planning Vs Operational Planning: What’s The Difference?
Strategy Review: How To Run It & What To Include
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What Is Implementation Planning? And How to Write Your Plan
Discover what goes into implementation planning, why it’s important in project management, and how to build your implementation plan.
What is implementation planning?
Implementation planning is a process in project management that entails creating step-by-step instructions for completing projects. The purpose of this process is to inform members of a project team of the concrete actions and individual tasks required to achieve the team’s strategic goals.
What is an implementation plan?
An implementation plan is a written document that outlines a team’s steps to accomplish a goal or project. Having such a document enables team members and key stakeholders to understand all aspects of a project before executing it.
Although you may find implementation plans that differ from one project to another, there are several components you may find in common, including:
Resources and tools list
Outline of deliverables
Team roles and responsibilities
Implementation plan metrics
Benefits of creating an implementation plan
Creating an implementation plan for your project means you have an actionable roadmap for the whole project and a mechanism to hold team members and stakeholders accountable, simplify communication, and offer transparency.
Strategic plan vs. implementation plan
Implementation plans are sometimes referred to as strategic plans, but there is an important distinction between these two terms. A strategic plan details the strategies you’ll use to complete a project, while an implementation plan details the step-by-step actions you’ll take to complete a project.
How to write an implementation plan
Before you start writing your implementation plan, there are several things you’ll need. Be sure to get an official clearance from decision makers and stakeholders for the project to be launched. In addition, the project team will need to have conducted thorough research into the key resources the team will need and the time tasks will take to complete.
With this preparation behind you, follow the steps below to build your implementation plan.
1. Define your project goals.
A project goal refers to what a project team will accomplish beyond the tangible outcomes or deliverables. Think of it as what a project outcome or deliverable can enable for others. For example, your project goal might be to develop software that makes it easier for business owners to reach customers.
2. Define outcomes and deliverables.
Along with goals, you will need to define the project’s outcomes and deliverables. These are the expected results of every step you take to complete a project or the final product. Examples of outcomes and deliverables include the construction of a building, the development of a software program, and the launch of a new product line.
You’ll also need to define KPIs (key performance indicators) that will determine how your project is measured and monitored at every phase.
3. Assess potential risks.
Every project carries with it some risks that may affect the outcome. It’s important to know project risks before you launch the project and implement the steps to complete it. Risks might include unforeseen delays, costs, or even changes in the industry the project affects.
4. Set tasks and due dates.
Work with team members to determine the specific tasks and subtasks that must be completed for the project to come to fruition. Start by breaking the project goal, outcomes, and deliverables into actionable steps and lining them up in the order in which they need to be completed. Then, determine the actual deadlines for each step.
5. Assign team member roles and responsibilities.
Once you have established the individual project tasks and deadlines, the next step is to work with your team to assign member roles and responsibilities. Take team members’ strengths and experience into account when assigning tasks, as well as their availability during the project’s duration.
6. Assemble your implementation plan.
Now that you have all the components of your implementation plan, the final step is to assemble them into a coherent document that includes the following:
Resources and tools list
Outline of deliverables
Team roles and responsibilities
Implementation planning key takeaways
Remember: The implementation planning process can enable team members to understand all aspects of a project before executing it, as well as simplify communication among team members and stakeholders, and offer transparency.
Follow these best practices to get the most out of your project management process:
Make use of tools and software for project management, such as Gantt charts and PERT charts .
When in doubt about a particular aspect of your project, conduct additional research and consult subject matter experts.
Centralize communication using your project management tool so that everyone receives project updates and announcements at the same time.
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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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More Like this
Strategic implementation, follow these 6 steps to successfully implement your strategic plan..
- What is strategic implementation?
- Getting your strategy ready for implementation
- Avoiding the implementation pitfalls
- Covering all your bases
- Make sure you have the support
- Determine your plan of attack
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.
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:
- 60% of organizations don’t link strategy to budgeting
- 75% of organizations don’t link employee incentives to strategy
- 86% of business owners and managers spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy
- 95% of the typical workforce doesn’t understand their organization’s strategy.
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.
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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:
- Lack of ownership: The most common reason a plan fails is lack of ownership. If people don’t have a stake and responsibility in the plan, it’ll be business as usual for all but a frustrated few.
- Lack of communication: The plan doesn’t get communicated to employees, and they don’t understand how they contribute.
- Getting mired in the day-to-day: Owners and managers, consumed by daily operating problems, lose sight of long-term goals.
- Out of the ordinary: The plan is treated as something separate and removed from the management process.
- An overwhelming plan: The goals and actions generated in the strategic planning session are too numerous because the team failed to make tough choices to eliminate non-critical actions. Employees don’t know where to begin.
- A meaningless plan: The vision, mission, and value statements are viewed as fluff and not supported by actions or don’t have employee buy-in.
- Annual strategy: Strategy is only discussed at yearly weekend retreats.
- Not considering implementation: Implementation isn’t discussed in the strategic planning process. The planning document is seen as an end in itself.
- No progress report: There’s no method to track progress, and the plan only measures what’s easy, not what’s important. No one feels any forward momentum.
- No accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change. This means that each measure, objective, data source, and initiative must have an owner.
- Lack of empowerment: Although accountability may provide strong motivation for improving performance, employees must also have the authority, responsibility, and tools necessary to impact relevant measures. Otherwise, they may resist involvement and ownership.
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:
- How committed are you to implementing the plan to move your company forward?
- How do you plan to communicate the plan throughout the company?
- Are there sufficient people who have a buy-in to drive the plan forward?
- How are you going to motivate your people?
- Have you identified internal processes that are key to driving the plan forward?
- Are you going to commit money, resources, and time to support the plan?
- What are the roadblocks to implementing and supporting the plan?
- How will you take available resources and achieve maximum results with them?
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.
- Finalize your strategic plan after obtaining input from all invested parties.
- Align your budget to annual goals based on your financial assessment.
- Produce the various versions of your plan for each group.
- Establish your scorecard system for tracking and monitoring your plan.
- Establish your performance management and reward system.
- Roll out your plan to the whole organization.
- Build all department annual plans around the corporate plan.
- Set up monthly strategy meetings with established reporting to monitor your progress.
- Set up annual strategic review dates, including new assessments and a large group meeting for an annual plan review.
Hi i like to read these article and i got lots of help about strategy plan thanks
the implementation plans can assists an organisation in making its strategic efficiently which bust the organisation performance
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 .
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.
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.
this is great and I have scooped a lot from it
Thanks a lot.This article has made me understand better
Isn’t this from “Strategic planning for dummies”? anyways thanks
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.
thanks for the article . it has really helped me answer all my questions keep it up.
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
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
The article is very useful for information. Thank you.
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.
This is a very valuable piece. You helped me understand strategic planning and implementation much better. Thanks so much.
Very helpful information, thank you!
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What Is Business Strategy & Why Is It Important?
- 20 Oct 2022
Every business leader wants their organization to succeed. Turning a profit and satisfying stakeholders are worthy objectives but aren’t feasible without an effective business strategy.
To attain success, leaders must hone their skills and set clear business goals by crafting a strategy that creates value for the firm, customers, suppliers, and employees. Here's an overview of business strategy and why it's essential to your company’s success.
Access your free e-book today.
What’s a Business Strategy?
Business strategy is the strategic initiatives a company pursues to create value for the organization and its stakeholders and gain a competitive advantage in the market. This strategy is crucial to a company's success and is needed before any goods or services are produced or delivered.
According to Harvard Business School Online's Business Strategy course, an effective strategy is built around three key questions:
- How can my business create value for customers?
- How can my business create value for employees?
- How can my business create value by collaborating with suppliers?
Many promising business initiatives don’t come to fruition because the company failed to build its strategy around value creation. Creativity is important in business , but a company won't last without prioritizing value.
The Importance of Business Strategy
A business strategy is foundational to a company's success. It helps leaders set organizational goals and gives companies a competitive edge. It determines various business factors, including:
- Price: How to price goods and services based on customer satisfaction and cost of raw materials
- Suppliers: Whether to source materials sustainably and from which suppliers
- Employee recruitment: How to attract and maintain talent
- Resource allocation: How to allocate resources effectively
Without a clear business strategy, a company can't create value and is unlikely to succeed.
To craft a successful business strategy, it's necessary to obtain a thorough understanding of value creation. In the online course Business Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee explains that, at its core, value represents a difference. For example, the difference between a customer's willingness to pay for a good or service and its price represents the value the business has created for the customer. This difference can be visualized with a tool known as the value stick.
The value stick has four components, representing the value a strategy can bring different stakeholders.
- Willingness to pay (WTP) : The maximum amount a customer is willing to pay for a company's goods or services
- Price : The actual price of the goods or services
- Cost : The cost of the raw materials required to produce the goods or services
- Willingness to sell (WTS) : The lowest amount suppliers are willing to receive for raw materials, or the minimum employees are willing to earn for their work
The difference between each component represents the value created for each stakeholder. A business strategy seeks to widen these gaps, increasing the value created by the firm’s endeavors.
Increasing Customer Delight
The difference between a customer's WTP and the price is known as customer delight . An effective business strategy creates value for customers by raising their WTP or decreasing the price of the company’s goods or services. The larger the difference between the two, the more value is created for customers.
A company might focus on increasing WTP with its marketing strategy. Effective market research can help a company set its pricing strategy by determining target customers' WTP and finding ways to increase it. For example, a business might differentiate itself and increase customer loyalty by incorporating sustainability into its business strategy. By aligning its values with its target audiences', an organization can effectively raise consumers' WTP.
Increasing Firm Margin
The value created for the firm is the difference between the price of an item and its cost to produce. This difference is known as the firm’s margin and represents the strategy's financial success. One metric used to quantify this margin is return on invested capital (ROIC) . This metric compares a business's operating income with the capital necessary to generate it. The formula for ROIC is:
Return on Invested Capital = Net Operating Cost After Tax (NOCAT) / Invested Capital (IC)
ROIC tells investors how successful a company is at turning its investments into profit. By raising WTP, a company can risk increasing prices, thereby increasing firm margin. Business leaders can also increase this metric by decreasing their costs. For example, sustainability initiatives—in addition to raising WTP—can lower production costs by using fewer or more sustainable resources. By focusing on the triple bottom line , a firm can simultaneously increase customer delight and margin.
Increasing Supplier Surplus & Employee Satisfaction
By decreasing suppliers' WTS, or increasing costs, a company can create value for suppliers—or supplier surplus . Since increasing costs isn't sustainable, an effective business strategy seeks to create value for suppliers by decreasing WTS. How a company accomplishes this varies. For example, a brick-and-mortar company might partner with vendors to showcase its products in exchange for a discount. Suppliers may also be willing to offer a discount in exchange for a long-term contract.
In addition to supplier WTS, companies are also responsible for creating value for another key stakeholder: its employees. The difference between employee compensation and the minimum they're willing to receive is employee satisfaction . There are several ways companies can increase this difference, including:
- Increasing compensation: While most companies hesitate to raise salaries, some have found success in doing so. For example, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, increased his company's minimum wage to $80,000 per year and enjoyed substantial growth and publicity as a result.
- Increasing benefits: Companies can also decrease WTS by making working conditions more desirable to prospective employees. Some offer remote or hybrid working opportunities to give employees more flexibility. Several have also started offering four-day work weeks , often experiencing increased productivity as a result.
There are several ways to increase supplier surplus and employee satisfaction without hurting the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, most managers only devote seven percent of their time to developing employees and engaging stakeholders. Yet, a successful strategy creates value for every stakeholder—both internal and external.
Crafting a business strategy is just the first step in the process. Implementation takes a strategy from formulation to execution . Successful implementation includes the following steps :
- Establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Set expectations and ensure employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities
- Delegate work and allocate resources effectively
- Put the plan into action and continuously monitor its progress
- Adjust your plan as necessary
- Ensure your team has what they need to succeed and agrees on the desired outcome
- Evaluate the results of the plan
Throughout the process, it's important to remember to adjust your plan throughout its execution but to avoid second-guessing your decisions. Striking this balance is challenging, but crucial to a business strategy's success.
Learn More About Creating a Successful Business Strategy
Business strategy constantly evolves with changing consumer expectations and market conditions. For this reason, business leaders should continuously educate themselves on creating and executing an effective strategy.
One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on best practices is to take an online course, such as HBS Online's Business Strategy program. The course will provide guidance on creating a value-driven strategy for your business.
Do you want to learn how to craft an effective business strategy and create value for your company's stakeholders? Explore our online course Business Strategy , or other strategy courses , to develop your strategic planning skills. To determine which strategy course is right for you, download our free flowchart .
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- Business strategy |
- What is strategic planning? 5 steps and ...
What is strategic planning? 5 steps and processes
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.
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.
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:
Stakeholders and roles
Scope and budget
Milestones and deliverables
Timeline and schedule
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.
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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What is an Implementation Plan? [& How to Do Yours Right]
Updated: November 12, 2021
Published: May 10, 2021
Project management doesn't exactly lend itself to freestyling. You can't really wing it and bank on your intuition to successfully guide you as you go. You have to put in a lot of thought, carefully plan, determine relevant metrics, and observe progress on an ongoing basis if you want your project to come to fruition.
And you can't just trust your memory to address all those actions and elements. You need something known as an implementation plan — a document that covers most aspects of your project's blueprint and preferred trajectory.
Here, we'll explore the concept a bit further, review how you can make one of your own, cover the key components yours should include, and look at an example of one done right.
What is an implementation plan?
An implementation plan is a step-by-step list of tasks — all with specific owners and deadlines — designed to outline and guide a strategic plan for carrying out a project. It keeps a project's timeline, stakeholder responsibilities, team dynamics, and resource allocation clear through the implementation process.
Your implementation plan serves as a backbone for your project and a consistent reference point to ensure that you and your team are on track to deliver what you need to on time. It should be well-structured, carefully sequenced, and readily visible to everyone involved.
Everyone from management to lower-level stakeholders needs a comprehensive picture of what's going on, their specific responsibilities, and what to expect from the rest of their team.
The nature and structure of implementation plans vary from organization to organization and project to project. So there's no standard format for what one should look like. Still, there are some key points to consider and components to cover when creating yours.
How to Create an Implementation Plan
1. pin down your objectives..
The how, what, where , and when of an implementation plan can't be effectively guided without a firm understanding of the why . What's the endgame? What are you hoping to achieve? What do you stand to gain? Who will benefit if it's carried out correctly? How will you know if you succeeded? What metrics will you use to gauge your success?
You need to have a firm grasp on all of those questions before jumping into the rest of this process. Your objective frames the rest of your implementation, dictates how you set goals, and informs how you adapt to new challenges as they emerge.
2. Tap a specific owner for the implementation process.
Your implementation plan is likely going to involve multiple stakeholders, but in most cases, a project can't be carried out efficiently if it's done exclusively by committee. You need to have one primary owner at the helm of the process, keeping everything in check and on track.
This person will be responsible for tasks like assigning responsibilities, keeping tabs on the plan's progress, monitoring lower-level stakeholders, ensuring the execution remains productive, and any other broader actions that keep the broader project moving.
3. Conduct a risk assessment.
You need to have as comprehensive a picture of what might go wrong with your project as possible before you launch into it. That way, you can anticipate any potential hitches and plan how to address them accordingly.
That's why conducting a risk assessment for your implementation plan is so crucial. You need to thoroughly cover your bases to avoid issues like spending outside your budget or missing deadlines.
If you don't know where to start, take a look at similar projects your company or competition might have carried out. See any issues they ran into, and ensure that you have safeguards in place to deal with those problems, should they arise.
4. Set a budget
If your project warrants creating an implementation plan, it's not going to be free. You'll have some funding, but that probably won't come in the form of a blank check. You need to determine an appropriate price range that accounts for what you think the project will cost and what you're comfortable spending to see it through.
You're best off methodically considering how much the individual tasks that compose the plan will cost and applying the findings of your risk assessment to account for other financial issues that might arise. It might also be worth looking into similar projects and using their budgets as a reference point for yours.
5. Allocate individual responsibilities to team members.
Here's one of the key points where your project owner demonstrates why you tapped them for the job. They need to thoughtfully and effectively delegate tasks to the team you've put together. Every task in the plan needs to have someone personally accountable for it.
Team members need to know which pieces of the project they're responsible for, why those pieces are necessary, and why they — specifically — are responsible for them. You also need to clearly establish the results you expect to see from each task. Keep your standards and intentions clear, and you'll get the most out of each stage of the project.
6. Develop a plan schedule.
Once you have the building blocks of your plan squared away, it's time to put a timeline together. Organize your tasks, and set deadlines for when they need to be accomplished and broader milestones that track the project's overall progress.
That said, you should be willing to account for potential hiccups, like scope creep or communication breakdowns. One way or another, you need to put together a tight, well-defined schedule that lends itself to efficiency and positive morale.
Implementation Plan Components
- Relevant Team Members
- Schedule and Milestones
- Resource Allocation
- Key Metrics for Success
- Acceptance Criteria
- Success Evaluation
1. Relevant Team Members
Identifying who's going to be involved in a project is one of the points to consider when putting an implementation plan together. You need to have a clearly defined picture of all the stakeholders who will be assuming any responsibilities throughout the implementation process. If you don't, you can't clearly allocate tasks, keep tabs on progress, and ensure your implementation is as organized and well-oiled as possible.
2. Key Tasks
At its core, an implementation plan is meant to document a series of actions, so you can't exactly have one if you don't know what those actions are. When you put your plan together, you have to outline what steps you intend to take to get from start to finish.
3. Schedule and Milestones
As I mentioned in the last section, you need a firm schedule in place to hold stakeholders accountable, keep your implementation on track, and ensure that everyone involved in your project is on the same page.
4. Resource Allocation
Virtually any task specified in an implementation plan — like any task in any context — requires resources. You need to ensure that every stakeholder involved has access to whatever they need to fulfill the responsibilities you've assigned to them. You don't want to leave any team member high and dry without the means to get their job done.
5. Key Metrics for Success
You'll have a hard time determining whether your implementation plan is successful without defining how your success should be measured. By monitoring specific, relevant metrics throughout your project, you can have a pulse on whether your current strategy is effective or if you might need to shift gears.
6. Acceptance Criteria
How will you know when your project is done? What will tell you when your implementation plan has actually been implemented? You need to define the criteria that let you answer those questions before creating your plan and setting it in motion.
7. Success Evaluation
As a sort of extension of the point above, you need to know how you're going to evaluate whether your plan actually worked — and the extent to which it did. Have certain metrics and benchmarks prepared to tell you whether your project accomplished what it needed to.
Implementation Plan Example
Your implementation plan is going to be unique to your team and the project you're carrying out — and the format you go with will likely reflect that specificity. Here is an example of what one could look like.
Image Source: Service Engineering Lab
Your implementation is going to be exactly that — your implementation plan. It's going to be specific to your needs and project specifications. You might not include every component listed here, or you might include some more. Yours could look like the example we've listed, or it could wind up looking different.
Still, this article provides a solid starting point for you to consider when putting yours together. If there's anything to take away from this piece it's this — have a plan in place for your implementation, document it, and track it as your project progresses. If you take those strides, you'll put yourself in the best possible position to see your project through to the other side smoothly and efficiently.
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Defining Strategy, Implementation, and Execution
The three are different, though their boundaries are hard to draw.
It is striking how much confusion there is between strategy, implementation, and execution . Is “strategy” a matter of making choices about where we want to go, where we play and how we win, of setting goals and actions, about how we create and capture economic value over time? Does it include creating solutions to unforeseen problems and running with unexpected opportunities? Is “getting things done” what we mean by implementation or execution? Do you “execute” or “implement” a strategy? And can you separate these from strategy formation ?
- KF Ken Favaro is a former CEO of Marakon Associates, the chief strategy officer of BERA Brand Management, and a guest instructor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
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What Is an Implementation Plan? (Template & Example Included)
What Is Project Implementation?
Project implementation, or project execution, is the process of completing tasks to deliver a project successfully. These tasks are initially described in the project plan, a comprehensive document that covers all areas of project management. However, a secondary action plan, known as an implementation plan, should be created to help team members and project managers better execute and track the project .
What Is an Implementation Plan?
An implementation plan is a document that describes the necessary steps for the execution of a project. Implementation plans break down the project implementation process by defining the timeline, the teams and the resources that’ll be needed.
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Implementation Plan Template
Use this free Implementation Plan Template for Excel to manage your projects better.
Implementation Plan vs. Project Plan
A project plan is a comprehensive project management document that should describe everything about your project including the project schedule, project budget, scope management plan, risk management plan, stakeholder management plan and other important components. An implementation plan, on the other hand, is a simplified version of your project plan that includes only the information that’s needed by the team members who will actually participate in the project execution phase, such as their roles, responsibilities, daily tasks and deadlines.
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.
Key Steps In Project Implementation
Here are some of the key steps that you must oversee as a project manager during the project execution phase . Your project implementation plan should have the necessary components to help you achieve these steps.
1. Communicate Goals and Objectives
Once you’ve outlined the project goals and objectives, the next step is to ensure that the team understands them. For the project to succeed, there must be buy-in from the project team. A meeting is a good way to communicate this, though having project documents that they can refer to is also viable.
2. Define Team Roles and Responsibilities
The project manager will define the roles and responsibilities and communicate them to the project team . They should understand what they’re expected to do and who they can reach out to with questions about their work, all of which leads to a smooth-running project.
3. Establish the Success Criteria for Deliverables
The project deliverables need to meet quality standards, and to do this there must be a success criteria for handing off these deliverables. You want to have something in place to determine if the deliverable is what it’s supposed to be. The measurement is called a success criteria and it applies to any deliverable, whether it’s tangible or intangible.
4. Schedule Work on a Project Timeline
All projects require a schedule , which at its most basic is a start date and an end date for your project. In between those two points, you’ll have phases and tasks, which also have start and finish dates. To manage these deadlines, use a project timeline to visually map everything in one place.
5. Monitor Cost, Time and Performance
To make sure that you’re keeping to your schedule and budget, you need to keep a close eye on the project during the execution phase. Some of the things you should monitor are your costs, time and performance. Costs refer to your budget , time refers to your schedule and performance impacts both as well as quality. By keeping track of these metrics, you can make adjustments to stay on schedule and on budget.
6. Report to Project Stakeholders
While the project manager is monitoring the project, the stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the project, are also going to want to stay informed. To manage their expectations and show them that the project is hitting all its milestones, you’ll want to have project reports , such as project status reports. These can then be presented to the stakeholders regularly to keep them updated.
What Are the Key Components of an Implementation Plan?
There’s no 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.
- Project goals & objectives: The project goal is the ultimate goal of your project, while the objectives are the key milestones or achievements that must be completed to reach it.
- Success criteria: The project manager must reach an agreement with stakeholders to define the project success criteria.
- Project deliverables: Project deliverables are tangible or intangible outputs from project tasks.
- Scope statement: The scope statement briefly describes your project scope, which can be simply defined as the project work to be performed.
- Resource plan: Create a simple resource plan that outlines the human resources, equipment and materials needed for your project.
- Risk analysis: Use a risk assessment tool like a SWOT analysis or risk register. There are different tools with different levels of detail for your risk analysis.
- Implementation timeline: Any implementation plan needs a clear project timeline to be executed properly. You should use an advanced tool such as a Gantt chart to create one.
- Implementation plan milestones: You need to identify key milestones of your implementation plan so that you can easily keep track of its progress.
- Team roles & responsibilities: The implementation plan won’t execute itself. You’ll need to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members.
- Implementation plan metrics: You’ll need KPIs, OKRs or any other performance metrics you can use to control the progress of your implementation plan.
Many of the key components listed above are included in our implementation plan template . Use this Excel file to define your strategy, scope, resource plan, timeline and more. It’s the ideal way to begin your implementation process. Download your template today.
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. Review Your Project Plan
Start by identifying what you’ll need for the execution of your implementation plan:
- What teams need to be involved to achieve the strategic goals?
- How long will it take to make the strategic goals happen?
- What resources should be allocated ?
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. Identify Task Owners
Each activity in your implementation plan must include a primary task owner or 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.
4. Define Project Tasks
Next, you need to finalize all the little activities to round out your plan. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the steps or milestones that make up the plan?
- What are the activities needed to complete each step?
- Who needs to be involved in the plan?
- What are the stakeholder requirements?
- What resources should be allocated?
- Are there any milestones we need to list?
- What are the risks involved based on the assumptions we notated?
- Are there any dependencies for any of the tasks?
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 project 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.
- Project goal: Create a new app
- Project objectives: All the project deliverables that must be achieved to reach that ultimate goal.
- Success criteria: The development team needs to communicate with the project stakeholders and agree upon success criteria.
- Scope statement: Here’s where the development team will document all the work needed to develop the app. That work is broken down into tasks, which are known as user stories in product and software development. Here, the team must also note all the exceptions, which means everything that won’t be done.
- Resource plan: In this case, the resources are all the professionals involved in the software development process, as well as any equipment needed by the team.
- Risk analysis: Using a risk register, the product manager can list all the potential risks that might affect the app development process.
- Timeline, milestones and metrics: Here’s an image of an implementation plan timeline we created using ProjectManager’s Gantt chart view. The diamond symbols represent the implementation plan milestones.
- Team roles & responsibilities: Similarly, we used a kanban board to assign implementation plan tasks to team members according to their roles and responsibilities.
Benefits of an Implementation Plan for the Project Implementation Process
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.
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. 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’ve 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.
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Strategy Implementation Plan
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What is a Strategic Implementation Plan?
What can you get from making sip, the stages of strategic planning.
- Analysis and evaluation – evaluation of the internal and external influences of an organization
- Strategy articulation – development of organizational plans
- Plan-based action – transformation of organizational plans into action
- Appraisal and refinement – evaluation of the performance
How to Implement a Strategic Plan?
- Determine the tactics used by your competitors and the demand of your consumers.
- Secure a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
- Determine the steps you need to implement in fulfilling your mission.
- Set specific goals.
- Use your objectives to set for the development of your plan.
- Write an organizational structure and your planned budget.
- Evaluate if your objectives are met.
- Determine the needs of your customers.
- Assess your competitors
- Think of what else you need in order to achieve your goals.
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The Strategy of Business Plan with Implementation Summary
The business plan is written and ready for implementation. Now what? As a guide for action, the strategy and implementation summary in business plan sets out the strategies for business startup and continuity, and presents the operational financial plan. Planning and taking action are two very different activities. Once the entrepreneur begins implementing the business in the real world, challenges are sure to arise.
The strategy and implementation summary in the business plan section of the business plan identifies the path the business intends on using to establish and grow the business. It includes strategies identifying how the business will maintain a competitive edge, market the company, grow sales, develop a network of contacts and customers, and so on. Milestones are established that include the budget for implementation of each step. However, entrepreneurs commonly encounter difficulties, which is why so many new businesses fail within the first five years after startup.
Planning for the Difficulties
Common difficulties business owners face and possible solutions include the following:
• Problems with development of products described in the strategy and implementation summary in business plan (reorganize to better support product development) • Difficulty hiring and retaining skilled personnel (try using a human resources consulting company) • Marketing efforts fail to produce desired results (revise the marketing plan ) • Funding for strategy implementation proves to be inadequate (re-evaluate financial needs, revise strategies, and/or seek new investors) • Entrepreneur discovers he or she needs to strengthen management skills (take advantage of workshops and assistance offered by organizations like the Small Business Administration and the Chamber of Commerce) • New and unexpected competitors enter the market (revise product and service differentiation or marketing strategy) • Lack of a solid network (begin networking online through social media and offline through community business organizations)
These are just a few of the problems entrepreneurs may face when starting a new business. A quality strategy and implementation summary in business plan addresses strategy and implementation by outlining the strategic assumptions, supported by market analysis. If the analysis is thorough, the entrepreneur conducted a SWOT analysis and included contingency planning. An entrepreneur may experience difficulties, but those difficulties should not be a surprise.
Business Plan Revisions
The final business plan should never be final. It needs regular review and assessment in light of the results of actions taken and the difficulties experienced to achieve business startup, smooth operations, and growth.
The business environment is dynamic which is why OGS Capital has a cadre of business professionals with real-world experience. The consultants are experts in writing business plans , including strategy and implementation summaries. They are also ready to assist entrepreneurs who need business plan revisions as a result of difficulties encountered during startup and early stage operation. Submit the online contact form to begin discussing options.
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OGSCapital’s team has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs with top-rate business plan development, consultancy and analysis. They’ve helped thousands of SME owners secure more than $1.5 billion in funding, and they can do the same for you.
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Volume 42 - Issue 46 - November 16, 2023
State of Kansas
Department of Transportation
Notice to Consulting Firms
he Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is seeking a qualified consulting firm or team of firms to perform professional services for the project(s) described in Table 1 below. Interested consultants must submit a proposal as laid out herein by 12:00 p.m. (Central Time) December 6, 2023, to be considered for selection.
Interested consulting firms must be prequalified by KDOT or otherwise demonstrate qualification in categories:
- 162 Long Range Planning
If a firm is not currently prequalified by KDOT, a proposal may still be submitted. Firms not prequalified must also provide documentation that demonstrates the firm is qualified for each specified category listed in this notice for the project. Firms must use the KDOT prequalification form to provide this documentation. KDOT 1050 Prequalification Category Definitions (Blue Book) can be found at http://www.ksdot.org/descons.asp . Consultants may create a team to meet the prequalification requirements. All firms doing business with KDOT must be registered and in good standing under the laws of the State of Kansas at the time of contracting and must comply with applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.
Anticipated Consultant Scope
KDOT anticipates the following to be included in the consultant’s scope:
- Planning study services.
- Stakeholder involvement services.
- Transportation safety analysis and planning.
Current expectations for consultant scope are detailed below. The scope included herein may not be all-inclusive. A scoping meeting will take place after consultant selection is made.
- Consultant will establish a web presence for the project and the final SHSP update. The website must be Section 508 compliant.
- Consultants will host recurring (at a minimum monthly) project management meetings with appropriate KDOT staff or contractors.
- Consultant will lead all data driven analysis and stakeholder engagement to develop the update of the SHSP.
- Consultant is expected to, at a minimum, conduct analysis of crash data and other relevant data to support decisions to be made by Emphasis Area Teams (EATs) and the executive-level Drive to Zero (DTZ) Coalition. Consultant will produce graphics, figures, or tables to summarize data analysis.
- The consultant is responsible for organizing, coordinating, consulting, and advising all stakeholder groups.
- The consultant is responsible for organizing, coordinating, consulting, and advising the Emphasis Area Teams (EATs) with the best practices relevant to the Emphasis Area. In total, up to 10 EATs will meet at least quarterly (EAT meetings are held online). The DTZ Coalition are currently working on a likely restructuring of the EATs into teams organized by each of the Safe System objectives as well as three support teams. It is possible the 10 existing EATs will be restructured into eight teams (i.e., Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, Post-Crash Care, Data Support, Legislative Support, Communications Support). The EATs are led by three individuals: 1) a consultant manager, 2) a KDOT staff member, and 3) a Chair from outside of KDOT with expertise in the subject matter. Consultant manager responsibilities include scheduling meetings, developing the agenda with team leaders, drafting the meeting action items or decisions, and developing related SHSP content. KDOT will provide an EAT Management Guide for the consultant’s use.
- Consultant is responsible for organizing, coordinating, consulting, and advising the executive meetings of the DTZ Coalition. The DTZ Coalition meets at least four times per year and these meetings will likely be in-person meetings held in Topeka, Kansas. KDOT may elect to move the DTZ Coalition meetings online at the project manager’s or Secretary’s direction.
- Consultant will participate in the annual joint workshop of the DTZ Coalition and EAT Leaders to be held in April 2024. The consultant’s role will be to kickoff the SHSP Update process with attendees. Beginning in 2025, the consultant is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the joint workshop in April of each year through the end of the contract.
- Consultant will manage the EAT and DTZ Coalition shared materials, agendas, minutes, etc. on a SharePoint or similar site for use by the stakeholders.
- Following the SHSP update approval, the consultant is responsible for guiding and supporting implementation of strategies. The consultant must track milestone progress and the schedule as well as documentation of strategy implementation.
- Consultant is responsible for development of the draft and final SHSP document. The plan must be published with high quality visuals. The final published SHSP must be Section 508 compliant and posted online.
- Strategies within the SHSP update must be produced in collaboration with the EATs and approved by the DTZ Coalition.
- Strategies must be data driven with relevant information to guide the DTZ Coalition in understanding the potential magnitude of lives that could be saved as well as the path to implementation of the strategy.
- Existing strategies that are currently in the process of implementation may be included in the SHSP update.
- New strategies are needed that fall within the Safe System Objectives (Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, and Post-Crash Care). Of note, the 2020-2024 SHSP exclusively focused on Safer People and Safer Roads objectives and focused primarily on KDOT as the implementing organization or the owner of the strategies. At a minimum, strategies are needed for Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds and Post-Crash Care. Additionally, the SHSP update should aim for all relevant State agencies as strategy owners or implementers. KDOT developed a Kansas Safe System Foundational Report to guide not only the organizations to be engaged but existing state documents that could inform the Safe System Objectives. This document will be made available to the selected consultant.
- Each strategy should include a well-developed action plan to guide the implementation of the strategy. KDOT has a template for the Strategy Action Plan that will be used by the consultant. The action plan is used to determine if the implementation of the strategy is feasible, if additional resources are needed, etc.
- Once the SHSP update is approved by the DTZ Coalition and FHWA, the consultant will be retained to guide all implementation activities through the horizon year of 2030. A future supplemental to this contract will cover the scope of work and budget for the implementation years following SHSP update approval.
- Consultants must have demonstrated experience in SHSP development and implementation including demonstrated experience in crash data analysis.
- Consultant experience must include project management; stakeholder facilitation and organizing; subject matter expertise in the Safe System Approach; behavioral and engineering strategies to improve traffic safety, and traffic safety culture; technical writing and editing; graphic design; and publishing.
- Consultant must present an understanding of the Safe System Approach.
Anticipated Schedule and Key Dates
- Proposals are due by or before 12:00 p.m. (Central Time) December 6, 2023.
- Ranking of proposals is expected to occur on or around January 3, 2024
- Depending on the number and quality of responses received, KDOT anticipates shortlisting (based on proposals) to no more than 3-5 firms and may hold in-person interviews prior to final selection (which may be based on both proposals and interview content). If KDOT deems them necessary, evaluation criteria for interviews will be distributed to shortlisted consultant teams in advance. Also, interviews may extend the schedule described below.
- Negotiations with the most highly ranked firm are expected to begin on or around January 31, 2024. An executed agreement is anticipated around February 28, 2024.
- The Plan Development schedule is anticipated to begin in early 2024 (3rd quarter of State FY2024). The Plan approval is anticipated to occur prior to July 2025 (prior to State FY2026). Plan Implementation will begin following SHSP update approval through FY2030.
Consultant must be on-board and ready to facilitate an SHSP Update workshop in April 2024.
Instructions for Proposal
- No cost or pricing information shall be submitted with the proposal. Proposals including cost or pricing information will be considered non-responsive and withdrawn from further consideration.
- The consultant’s proposal must not exceed 8 pages total (including any cover letter, index, etc.). All pages shall be standard letter size (8.5” x 11”). Any page larger than standard letter size will be counted as two or more pages depending on size.
- A single PDF (10MB maximum size) of the proposal including all attachments must be uploaded to the appropriate bid form on Bid Express by the proposal due date and time.
- “P-1786-24_Strategic Hwy Safety Plan_FIRM NAME”
- The proposal must be accompanied by Special Attachments No. 8 (“Tax Clearance Certificate”) and No. 10 (“Policy Regarding Sexual Harassment”). If you need a Tax Clearance Certificate, you can request one at https://www.ksrevenue.gov/taxclearance.html . Allow 2-3 business days for processing. Both attachments are required for every firm involved in a multi-consultant team.
- The outline in Table 2 below describes the expected proposal organization and content sections.
- Table 3 lists the evaluation criteria and associated weights which will be used to make a selection.
Contract Terms and Conditions
A standard KDOT agreement for engineering and technical services will be used for professional services projects. The following special attachments will need to be provided by the selected consultant and all subconsultants with the signed work order following negotiations and will become attachments to the contract.
- Special Attachment No. 8 (“Tax Clearance Certificate”)
- Special Attachment No. 10 (“Policy Regarding Sexual Harassment”)
Special Contract Conditions
The total contract timeline is anticipated to begin in early 2024 and end by June 30, 2030.
All questions regarding this Request for Proposals shall be submitted via Q&A section of bid form in Bid Express.
Questions can be submitted until November 16, 2023; answers will be provided to all prequalified consultants in Bid Express on November 29, 2023.
Calvin Reed Secretary Department of Transportation
Doc. No. 051646
© 2022 Kansas Secretary of State