Thursday, December 11, 2008

...AssignMent 3...

In doing strategies or strategic planning, each individual or part of a company that does the planning is really up into a purpose. And what are those purposes in it. “Planning is everything. Plans are nothing”, that is according to Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke. For my understanding about the quote, for me it means that we can really plan for anything. We can directly create or have our planning for ourselves. But in the end, after we have decided the planning, in the end, we can’t really have the activities to do the plan. Like for example here in USEP. Every professional professors and teachers here do have their conference and meeting about the strategic planning for the school, but once it was been designed or talked properly, at the end of the discussion and after the technical paper was made, there are still no implementation for it. The words and discussions are being taken for granted. Meaning, the planning was still useless since it was not been implemented properly.

So what are the purposes of strategic planning? For example, in our own self, we do have dreams and visions in life. Before us able to conquer those dreams and visions, we must first start by step by step process on it. We must have first decided on what our goals to achieve the dream. We must first plan. In strategic planning, especially in businesses and industry, the main purpose of it is to set the overall goals for the business and to develop a plan to achieve them. It involves stepping back from the day-to-day operations and asking where the business is headed and what its priorities should be. For global speaking, there are lots of purposes why strategic planning must be done. First, the purpose of strategic planning is to reduce risks. Planning increases the likelihood of project success by providing insights into the project’s risks. Some projects are so risky that the business may choose not to start once they have learned about the risks. Other projects may contain features whose risks can be contained by early attention. The discussions that occur while estimating raise questions that expose potential dark corners of a project. Next, is to reduce uncertainty. Throughout a project, the team is generating new capabilities about what is inside the business or the company. They are also generating new knowledge—about it, the technologies in use, and themselves as a team. It is critical that this new knowledge be acknowledged and factored into an iterative planning process that is designed to help a team refine their vision. Next, is supporting in the decision making. Plans help the business to make decisions. How does an organization decide whether a particular project is worth doing if it does not have estimates of the value and the cost of the project? Beyond decisions about whether or not to start a project, estimates help them make sure that they are working on the most valuable projects possible. Strategic planning also helps in conveying information. A plan conveys expectations and describes one possibility of what may come to pass over the course of a project. A plan does not guarantee an exact set of features on an exact date at a specified cost. A plan does, however, communicate and establish a set of baseline expectations. Far too often a plan is reduced to a single date, and all of the assumptions and expectations that led to that date are forgotten. In relation with planning supports in decision making, it also acquires establishing trusts. Frequent reliable delivery of promised features builds trust between the developers and the customers. Reliable estimates enable reliable delivery. A customer needs estimates to make important prioritization and tradeoff decisions. Estimates also help a customer decide how much of a feature to develop. Customers are reluctant to make these types of tradeoff decisions early in a project unless the developers’ estimates have proved trustworthy. The other purpose of strategic planning is to improve the chances of reaching desirable possible outcomes, to create the future, not to predict it. In this statement, the business can acquire benefits from it. First, the business or industry is prepared for contingencies that could prevent it from attaining its goals. Since planning is on creating future, and not to predict it, there are consequences listed on the strategic plan. The SWOT analysis may be or should be the basis on preparing the strategic plan. Identifying the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and strength for the future basis of the industry or the businesses. Next, is to prepare a framework for the organization’s orderly growth and progress. Since strategic planning is a short term basis, the organization must identify the framework for there success and progression. The framework also identifies the past standing of the organization so that they can mold a good strategic plan for the next years. Lastly, have a strategy for the allocation of resources in a manner that will allow the organization to meet its goals. Planning is not always about budgeting, planning for the future, and always thinking about what should be done. It is also about how and what are the resources to be used for it. Planning may be implemented along with the resources available or resources that might be available. In planning also, the people around the business must identify what are future technological gadgets to be used aligned in meeting its goals. Other inputs, strategic planning identifies where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to get there. The "strategic" part of this planning process is the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization. This form of planning includes: Taking a wide look around at what's going on outside the organization and how it might effect the organization (an environmental scan), taking a hard look at what's going on inside the organization, including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (a SWOT analysis), establishing statements of mission, vision and values, establishing goals to accomplish over the next (usually) three years or so, as a result of what's going on inside and outside the organization, identifying how those goals will be reached (strategies, objectives, responsibilities and timelines) Strategic planning determines the overall direction and goals of the organization. Consequently, strategic planning influences numerous aspects of the organization, including what: Products and services will be provided by the business and how those products and services will be designed, organizational design and roles are needed by the organization, performance goals are established for positions throughout the business, board committees should be developed (in the case of corporations), resources are needed to reach those goals, and consequently, how much money is needed to procure those resources -- ultimately, the goals determine the content of various budgets.

There are also challenges in Information Strategic Planning. Here are some as I found in the net that tells the challenges in strategic planning in developing countries. First is data. Finding data is a real challenge because there is available statistics is far below those available in developing countries. Most companies try to keep any financial information and consider them secrets. It is not possible to know the demand in last year of a certain product or service. People are not used to market research and they don’t want to talk to the marketing people. Next are employees. Most employees and managers are not aware about the value of strategic planning and they may consider it waste of time and something that is applicable in developed countries. Followed by owner. Many owners of successful companies believe they don’t need to do strategic planning and they do not know that their success will go one day when there are more competitors or there are changes in the market. Then the manager’s selection. Most company’s managers in developing countries are experts in the technical process of the organization but they are not well educated in management and thus they want to focus on what they know and neglect what they do not know. Accordingly, strategic management does not fall in their area of interest. Then the qualitative analysis. Strategic planning needs a lot of forecasting and qualitative analysis besides the quantitative analysis. Many technical managers are used to neither the qualitative analysis nor the forecasting. The phrase “I am the manager”. The strategy shows a guide for decisions, so, an employee may, sometimes, tell the senior manager that his decision is against the company strategy. Thus the manager avoid having a strategy to keep his freedom to decide whatever he likes. “Analysis” versus “Intuition”. Most people do not think that a manager should do analysis or have done for him they think that some people are talented to take the right decision without doing many calculations or having subordinates make a study for them. The common challenge is the Implementation. To get every manager follow the same strategy is not an easy task. The Investors. Having a clear strategic plan and clear goals for the future (other than increasing sales of the current products) does not affect the stock price because most of the investors do not care about those issues. And lastly, the security. Most managers feel that everything is a secret and obviously they think that no one else should know the strategy and thus no one else should make a study for our strategic plan….and there is no strategy. Maintaining the strategic plan is also a challenge in any sectors of any businesses. Strategic planning, the what and the why of planning, is often overlooked by organizations who concentrate on tactical planning, the how of planning. The resultant business plan is overwhelmed by tactical initiatives and pet projects. Alignment with a strategy to attain the organization’s goals is achieved by accident. Strategic planning is often seen as unnecessary or at times, not even contemplated in an environment benign to the organization, e.g. high levels of market growth or monopoly situations. In my experience, a strategic plan based on basic critical thinking is a precursor to developing a competitive advantage where often none has previously been seen. Flexibility is also a challenge of a business. Not all businesses do have a strategic plan. Like small scale businesses. And mostly strategic plan is a short term planning only. That is because of changing environment. Since we all know that strategic plan can’t be implemented because there is a change, so it’s a challenge to an IT professional who does the research to make his/her research or plan to be useful. The other challenge is the uncertainty. Strategic planning helps a business evaluate market opportunities. To do this effectively, the process includes collecting and analyzing information about the business environment, understanding internal strengths, and developing a set of 'key assumptions'. Optimal strategies are designed based on all of these factors. As the environment changes, so should our plans. One way to assess whether it is time to conduct a new strategic planning process is to check your list of 'key assumptions' on an annual basis to see if anything has changed. The other one is the cost. Big industries and businesses don’t have the problem of cost in regards of improvement in their business. But in small scale business, cost is a great factor. With all the activities that make up running a business, setting priorities in the context of a plan is important. Without a plan, the limited resources of a growing business will tend to be scattered in many directions, netting results that take longer and cost more. The other challenge also is the organization dynamics. An effective planning process will help to get people talking, and ensure that the business owner/CEO benefits from the ideas of his/her team. A good process is designed to build confidence, support and commitment among all involved. Even if only a limited group is included in the process, the completion of a strategic plan provides a great opportunity to communicate the company's direction and core values to employees. The use of an outside facilitator can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a planning process and keep the process on track. There is often a strong tendency of those participating to focus the discussions on today's problems. An outside facilitator can help to broaden thinking and make sure that new ideas and directions are generated.

In our own self as well, we do have a strategic planning that was been planned accordingly. Now, it is our choice on how to implement it, how to maintain it and how to make it flexible in change without putting us into much cost.

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