Strategic Planning As a Competitive Factor
Strategic planning is a way in which organizations define their strategies and directions in order to make decisions on the allocation of their resources for purposes of pursuing various strategies. The achievement of all these is always preceded by the knowledge of the prevailing position and the gateways through which a particular course of action can be pursued.
It is a critical competitive factor as it provides the organization’s vision and mission statement (Grunig and Gaggl 80). The vision statement and the mission statement contain the vision, mission, values and the strategy of the organization.
Through its vision, an association delineates what it wants to bring about and also tries to influence the environment around which it is carrying out its operations. On the other hand, the mission comprehensively describes the motivations behind the existence of the organization together with the strategies it intends to puts in place to attain its vision. The cultural beliefs that an organization holds and upon which all stakeholders share constitute its values.
The decisions that are made within the organization are normally based on these values. Strategy is the way in which an organization makes policies and the methods through which the attainment and implementation of such policies are attained.
Changes in the Field of Strategic Planning and Strategic Information Systems Planning
Strategic information systems planning have come a long way over the years. During the 1960s, there was the era of data processing (DP) in which stand alone computers that were remote from the users were applied for the cost reduction functions. In the 1970s and 1980s, the management information system (MIS) was discovered. This system was more interconnected and distributed. It was also regulated by a management service and it supported businesses in a user driven fashion.
However, in the 1980s and 90s, there came an era of Strategic Information systems (SIS). When compared to the earlier eras, the SIS planning had more elaborate integrated systems and was extensively networked. It was also available to supportive users. This ensured that it efficiently related to the business’ strategy besides enabling the drive of the organization.
The strategic information systems’ planning that is carried out using the strategic information system is complex as it is deeply rooted in business processes. The main objective of the SISP is to enable an organization to plan for its activities, to not only reduce costs of running the business but also to ensure the addition of value to its products.
Information technology has played an important role in re-engineering and redefining businesses. It has carved multiple virtual corporations offering unprecedented possibilities (Ferrell and Hartline 529).
Strategic planning can also refer to as a methodical and officially documented process for selecting the most appropriate decisions that an organization needs to make in order to prosper over a certain period. In this aspect, strategic planning process is very important for the prosperity and survival of a business.
Its focus should be the definition and assessment of both internal and external situations. It also implements strategy, makes adjustments and evaluates the progress of a particular business activity or project (May and May 22). The most imperative thing to reflect on when carrying out strategic planning is the nature of the needs an organization has and the direct exterior surroundings it thrives in. Industries that change their products and services regularly need to carry out a lot of strategic planning processes.
On the other hand, the organizations that have stayed on the market for longer periods of time or that have established stable markets need fewer planning processes, which can be implemented once in a year. The most critical time during which an organization should carry out strategic planning is in the course of its commencement.
In this regard, the strategic plan is embedded with the business plan, the financial plan and the market plan among others. Another scenario that requires the execution of a strategic plan is during the formation of a new business venture, or the establishment of a new department or the conception of new merchandise. It is also important to note that strategic planning should be carried out at least once in a year.
This ensures that an organization is adequately prepared for every fiscal year. During this process, action plans are normally updated. However, during the implementation, the progress of the implementation needs to be reviewed even on a quarterly basis (Abraham 189).
Issues affecting the Selection and Implementation of the SISP
SISP is the method through which portfolio computer-based applications are branded. These applications help in the execution of business plans in order to meet the objectives of the organization. It is very crucial for the running of the business as it helps organizational managers and information technicians in the identification of strategic applications in order to align them with the needs of the business.
Over the past few decades, business leaders and their organizations have deemed it fit to include the acquisition of technological decisions as a key component tool that impacts on the organizational information system. This is normally founded on what the players in the industry believe in and the influence that they get from vendors and competitors.
However, a positive outcome is not always guaranteed. It is against this backdrop that the idea of strategic information systems planning comes in handy. In this regard, the decisions on the information systems of an organization must be made in compliance with it direction and strategy (Grant, Hackney, and Edgar 329).
The issues that normally impact on the implementation of the information systems and strategy planning include business strategy, organizational strategy and the information strategy. This strategy constitutes a synchronized set of procedures, which are set to arrive at the intention, objectives and the goals of the organization. It commences with the mission of the association and sets restrictions on the vital undertakings of the institute.
On the other hand, the organizational strategy is involved with the human resource, the processes of working, internal and external structures, hiring practices and the business plan (Kupper 7). This is specifically designed to enable a business enterprise accomplish its goals. In order to successfully provide adequate information services, organizations need to adopt effective action plans, such as valuable information systems.
The main objective of executing the strategic information systems planning is coming up with an excellent information system strategy. For the setting up of these strategies to be successfully executed, the organisation has to reflect on the key components that include: information strategy, change administration and execution strategy, information management strategy and information technology strategy.
In a nutshell, the whole idea of strategic information systems planning is to give the direction a business enterprise wishes to go to while keeping in mind the information about the future prospects of the organization. This helps in decision making in the future. The most important goal of this strategic plan is to put forward the framework for making future decisions. Apparently, planning in itself involves a lot of processes some of which are very complex (King 411).
Approaches to Strategic Planning
Some of the approaches to strategic planning that are in use include future research, open space, SWOT analysis and the ZOPP/OOPP/LFA. These approaches operate on the belief that the future is not pre-destined and can be changed. They also share a belief that all the significant stakeholders are important ingredients in the participation of decision making for the future actions.
Future Search Approach
This is a plan is intended to unravel the circumstances that had proved taxing at the start. It is appropriate for projects or programs that rely heavily on participants’ input. It is also commonly used by the non-profit making entities that do very little business.
This approach emphasizes on the need to leap forward in an appropriate time to identify the suitable conditions for the future and work toward attaining them (Simerson 201). Since it is normally manual, it consumes a lot of time and tedious. This is different from the strategic information systems planning, which is computer based.
Open Space Approach
This is the least structured of all the approaches available. In this approach, there lacks the preset agenda set aside for the topic that had previously been agreed upon and the time allocation for the meeting. It is also characterized by lack of planned discussions and the plenary sessions.
It is the duty of the participants to create all the relevant agenda. This they do with the guidance of the facilitator. Issues that are mostly pressing are normally at the top of the agenda. As compared to the strategic information systems planning, this approach is too narrow. SISP apparently uses numerous strategies to arrive at a decision.
The SWOT Analysis Approach
In this approach, the planners seek to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that surround an organization’s operations. It is mostly common in business environments. The strengths are those qualities that a business organization possesses, which can enable it to accomplish its mission.
It is from these strengths that consistent success is made and sustained. Conversely, strengths can either be substantial or indefinable. Some of the most unique strengths that organizations experience include the expertise and the qualities of the employees, products and services, customer goodwill, process capabilities and brand loyalty. These strengths are also regarded as the beneficial aspects of the company (Fine 48).
Weaknesses are the traits within an organization that derail the attainment of its objectives. They weaken the organization’s prospects of achieving its full potentiality. Some of the examples of weaknesses include inadequate or poor research, operation of machines under poor working conditions, poor decision making skills and the narrow product range.
For the success of any business organization, the frequency of weaknesses must be minimized or eliminated at all cost. Some of the ways of overcoming the weaknesses include hiring competent employees, purchasing new and functioning machinery and engaging in a complex decision making process.
On the other hand, opportunities are exhibited by the operating environment of the organization. This is achieved through the actions of the organization to make beneficial choices out of its operating environment. The organization must be ready to put in place measures that ensure it succeeds by initiating strategies that enable it to become profitable.
A sure way for an organization to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors is to make wise use of the opportunities that come its way. However, this requires careful identification and recognition of such opportunities because it is not easy to select a target that will serve clients satisfactorily and at the same time give the business the desired results.
Some of the things that could help are the availability of a new-fangled and more resourceful technology, encouraging government policies, weak antagonism and an approving market. Currently, there is an increasing demand for telecommunication products; in an industry, which is accompanied by deregulation, companies in the telecom sector can utilize this to their advantage (Bohm 13).
Threats are the external factors whose influence is unfavorable enough to hinder the organization’s progress. In most of the cases, they are uncontrollable and their presence puts the stability of the business at a vulnerable state, especially if they compound with other weaknesses. Some of the most common threats to most business organizations include the frequent and consistent of unreliable technology, civil strikes by the employees, price wars and increased competition within the industry.
As a strategic planning tool, SWOT analysis ensures the provision of information for strategic planning besides building on the organization’s strengths and reversing the weaknesses. In addition, SWOT analysis helps to maximize the response of the organization to opportunities so as to tap them. If carefully drafted, this strategy assists in overcoming the threats faced by the organization.
By doing this, the key areas of competencies by the firm become easer to identify. The SWOT analysis approach also assists in setting up the objectives that are vital for strategic planning. To crown all these, the SWOT analysis tool puts an organization in a better position of knowing the past, current and future plans at a glance (Snelling 8).
As a strategy formulation tool, the SWOT analysis approach is very instrumental because of its reliability and profitability. It should provide a platform upon which business organizations gauge their performance.
In this case, the success of a business organization is premised upon building its strengths, correcting its weaknesses, and protecting itself against the external weaknesses and threats (Pahl and Richter 61). This approach shares the same contextual framework with the strategic information systems planning, as it is deeply rooted in explorations.
ZOPP/OOPP/Logical Framework Approach
This approach is also referred to as Objective Oriented Project Planning. It is a structured meeting process. It seeks to identify some of the most pressing prevailing problems by the use of the cause effect analysis.
This is then followed by the search for the best strategy for the alleviation of the identified problems. Conversely, this approach is limited in scope, time consuming and tedious when compared to strategic information systems planning approach.
All this planning approaches have their cons and pros. It is upon the business organization managers to identify and come up with the most suitable approach to apply.
From the above analysis, it is true that all the approaches described above are correct in their own right under the specified circumstances. However, for elaborate business organizations, SWOT analysis could the most efficient. Nonetheless, with the introduction of information systems to run business models, the strategic systems information planning can offer tools that are even more effective and sensitive.
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