Pro Tips

The Missing Component in Your Strategic Plan

by Tiffany Markarian

It’s that glorious event. A time when your team comes together to discuss your firm’s strategies for the coming year – the annual strategic plan. Opportunities and challenges are discussed. The virtual whiteboard and yellow pads are a bounty of ideas. It’s a celebration of motivation.

And then you look up…and it’s June.

For some firms, that beautiful strategic plan you created has not been looked at for months. We go to the common drive to print it off and say, “How are we doing?” The problem is there may be a missing component in your strategic plan.

Where a Strategic Plan Falls Short

The annual strategic plan is a necessary component for every business. It involves researching your market, clarifying your vision, positioning your value with the right clientele and identifying your SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

But, here’s the most important component. The top firms in any industry not only have a clear strategic plan; they focus on an action plan. They systematize the required tools, team roles and performance accountability for implementation. This is the secret to true strategic planning – you need to have an action plan for implementation that begins once the strategies are finalized. Otherwise, your strategic plan is simply a set of ideas.

For some firms, annual strategic planning is a team exercise to motivate everyone for the coming year. They believe it is a necessary function of leadership, and it is. However, strategic plans are useless if not acted upon with regularity.

When Done Wrong, Problems Occur

If your firm has a pattern of stops and starts with strategic planning, the process becomes a chore and an eye-roll for your team. It’s a reminder that great ideas will be talked about only to fall by the wayside with no execution.

If you want your team to be excited about strategic planning and have your annual plan come to fruition, build in an action plan to tackle your strategies. Your action plan becomes the focus of your weekly team meetings. Your team will start to see real progress as you complete what was agreed upon.

When to Bring in Outside Help

If your firm has had years of stops and starts, this is not the time to go it alone. You need to overcome biases and doubts within your team. They may have seen time wasted over the years talking about ideas with no action. An outside party will help you set action plans in place and hold your team accountable.

The right person will do a proper discovery on your business model to uncover hidden threats and historical sticking points. They will walk alongside your team to facilitate necessary change and accountability.

Let’s face it. Every business goes through a slump from time to time. These are the times when strategic planning is critical. You need to step back and determine how to position your firm moving forward. You need your best people involved to share concerns, improve efficiencies and make real change happen. The missing component is the action plan. When your team sees ideas coming to fruition you will see a spike in morale, trust and a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

90-Day Action Plans and KPIs

We suggest 90-day action plans with key performance indicators (KPIs). A 90-day action plan sets your strategies in motion with a sense of urgency. Your annual plan sets your larger goals; however, it gives your team 12 months to procrastinate. Teams can focus more easily on 90-days at a time. Your 90-day action plan includes the necessary steps to achieve your strategies, who is responsible for each action, and the due date for each action.

Finally, your 90-day plan should include key performance indicators. These are measurable benchmarks to assure the plan is working.

Plan Tracking

Tracking plan progress with your team on a weekly or bi-weekly basis helps identify problem areas and achievements. It determines if success is happening by seeing a measurable increase or decrease in activity.

Anytime you focus on new strategies, the implementation phase may turn out to be more challenging than expected. You might lack the resources, systems or training to get to the finish line. This is not the time to bail on your plan.

Challenges will be uncovered through action planning and will give you the push to work through them. This may involve making changes to your systems or your team – and that is okay. These changes may be historical sticking points that have been plaguing your firm for years. You can’t fix something if you hide from it or don’t know it’s broken.

When firms focus solely on a strategic plan without a plan for implementation, complacency and procrastination take hold. When you focus on action plans and implementation on a regular basis, velocity takes hold. Bringing your team together to build a strategic plan is great; but, bringing your team together regularly to implement strategies is the real accomplishment.

When the end of Q1 or Q2 comes and you want to resurrect your strategic plan, focus on your key strategies and build a 90-day action plan to get moving. Meet regularly with your team and start tackling the necessary actions. Implementation of the right activities will always lead to positive results.


The services offered by Advantus Marketing, LLC are not intended to replace the need for independent legal, regulatory, tax, human resources, financial or operational business guidance. Individuals and firms are advised to seek the counsel of such licensed professionals concerning the application of these areas to their specific, unique circumstances. No guarantee of business or future profitability results should be inferred.

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Tiffany MarkarianThe Missing Component in Your Strategic Plan

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