Business Strategy Checklist – Key Self-Assessment Questions
There are no magic bullets or cures, templates or spreadsheets that can tell you how your organisation or department is delivering against the competition and the wider environment.
This is something that you have to do for yourself, taking into account as a starting point your sales and profits – if both are falling it is probably already too late to draw back from an ungracious and very painful end. If sales and profits are healthy – well done – but it still remains a priority to fully and carefully assess where you sit and how you can then maximise this position. Successful organisations here and now rarely remain so without scanning the business environment and developing themselves.
Not an easy task.
The following pointers should be used a s a framework for gauging performance and identifying where to focus your efforts:
- Where are we now? To do this properly assess where your organisation has come from and what it has achieved to date. What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of past strategies and performance and what does this tell you? What are the Vision, Mission, Values and Purpose of the organisation and does this still have relevance?
- What is the operating environment telling you? What industrial sector are you operating in and what are the trends here? Define your market place and critically assess the competition. To survive you need to identify, in plain and brutal terms, the key threats in that market and how this influences the survival of your organisation. Have you audited and asked for feedback from your customers lately? If so, what does this tell you? How often, and with how much accuracy and passion, have you assessed what the competition is doing?
- The macro-environment. What are the big external factors that will have an impact upon your future strategy and which will partially or even fully determine your success? Political/Economic/Social and Cultural/Technological/Legal and Regulatory/Environmental and Ethical. ALL of these need to be done at national/regional/local levels to get a real picture of what is happening.
- Internal Resource auditing. What are your internal strengths and weaknesses? This has to be done coldly and objectively to get a full picture of reality. Areas to consider include Management, Accounting and financial strength, Marketing, HRM, Operations, Logistics, Contingency Planning, Culture and the definition and delivery of your USP – your Unique Selling Point. If you do not have a USP then you need to get one!
- Customer Perception Survey. What are the results of this and how are you going to use them to refine and develop your offer? If you do not conduct one, or have not done so for a while, time to correct this.
- Benchmarking. This is an essential exercise to see how your organisation stands in comparison to your main competitors. It may be an uncomfortable exercise, unearthing many issues that you would probably rather not consider, but it has to be done to get a grip on your future strategy.
- What are the generic opportunities that you have? Product development? Market development? Chances to diversify into related or non-related business activity? Consolidation of your current markets or building new opportunities?
- What are your growth opportunities? Internal? External? What are the opportunities for Strategic Alliances or Joint Ventures?
- Looking for Strategic Options. Cost leadership? Differentiation? Niche Markets? Mass Markets? A hybrid approach of both?
- Making decisions. Suitability: does your plan have a strategic logic within it? Acceptability: how are stakeholders affected by your options, what are the risks and returns from your approaches? Feasibility: do you have the resources, skills and competences needed to make this a success?
- Implementing the new Strategy: what internal changes may be needed to ensure the successful implementation of your new strategy and what additional resources and/or skills and competencies are needed. What external changes to what we are now doing may be required?
Be courageous – nobody ever said this was going to be easy – but success never is a given and it takes work.
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