Strategic Business Plans

"The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."

Elbert Hubbard

The areas in which businesses compete in today's world are moving out of the narrow definitions of marketing and management that have prevailed in the past.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage is now being sought in:

  • superior quality
  • more flexible manufacturing techniques
  • application of just-in-time techniques
  • information technology
  • superior customer service

In this new environment, the traditional approach of watching and waiting for trends to emerge is no longer relevant - there is no longer the time.

Today's most successful companies are those with the flexibility to address issues quickly and appropriately - before they give a more flexible competitor the opportunity, not only to catch up, but to pass them by.

Strategic Issues Management is all about staying ahead of the impact of change by identifying and responding to those issues effectively.

how does it work?

The objective of Strategic Issues Management is to achieve better results relative to the competition and to increase or gain a competitive advantage.

Developed by Dr John Grattorna, Professor of Marketing and Logistics, Temple University and Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales, it involves developing a list of the strategic issues facing a company. From here we are in a better position to reliably determine which issues are Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, or Threats, and what priority each demands.

A smaller, more rigorous list of issues can then be identified for action.

The real power of this system is its flexibility. It provides a disciplined framework that encourages innovation and prompt response to change. Because "surprises" that are too important to be postponed often emerge outside the normal planning cycle, a "strategic issue management system" can be a tool for survival and a weapon for success.

what is a strategic business plan?

Any Business Plan must be based upon a reliable understanding of the current and potential markets available to your business. A Strategic Business Plan takes this one step further by canvassing all possible strategic options and analysing the comparative potential and the demands of each.

This often means conducting trade research as well as initial consumer (internal and external, observational, phone and face-to-face) research of all potential purchasers and users.

eh! strategic business plans incorporate:

    • Internal Environment
      • Size
      • Complexity
      • Structure
      • Systems
      • Communications
      • Power structure
      • Role definitions
      • Centralisation/decentralisation
      • Values & norms
      • Management style
      • Management competence
      • Workforce competence
      • Capital intenmsity
      • Technological intensity
      • Product diversification
      • Market diversification
      • Technological diversification
    • Competitive Environment
      1. Industry Competition
        • Concentration & numbers of competitors
        • Relative market shares of competitors
        • Merger & acquisition trends
        • Customer attitudes towards competitors
        • Market growth trends
        • Size as a competitive tool
        • Shrinking product lifecycles
        • Reduced forecasting horizons
      2. Buyers
        • Concentration of numbers of buyers
        • Growth of government as a customer
        • Linkages between customers & competitors
        • Distortion of the "80/20″ rule
        • Dependence on one particular industry
        • Threat of backward integration
      3. New Entrants
        • Changes to protectionist legislation
        • Easy access to distribution channel
        • Market attractiveness
        • Number of organisations able to "buy in"
      4. Suppliers
        • Shortage of strategic resources
        • Threat of forward integration
        • Importance of suppliers input
      5. Substitute Products or Services
        • Number of possible substitutes in existence
        • Relative prices of substitutes
        • Product improvement based on process improvement
    • Macro Environment
      1. Political
        • Trends in developing countries
        • Government control on business
        • Intra-continental nationalism
        • Conflict between multinational corporations & national interest
        • Legislation restricting trading partners
        • Opposition party pressure
        • Protectionism versus free trade
        • Union pressure
      2. Economic
        • Monetary trends
        • Inflationary trends
        • Emergence of the multinational firm
        • Competition from developing countries
        • Pressures for employment maintenance
        • Development of the Common Market
        • Growth of the service sector
      3. Social
        • Affluence of consumers
        • Change in age distribution of consumers
        • Social attitudes towards business
        • Ecologically-driven concerns
        • Changing work attitudes
        • Pressures for employment maintenance
        • Ideological change
        • Minority group pressure
      4. Technological
        • Technology as a competitive tool
        • Technological breakthroughs
        • Level of threat represented by:
          • Applied technology
          • Developed technology
          • Emerging technology
          • Conceptualised technology