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Strategic Direction
A Strategic Plan Should Be A "Live" Or "Working" Document
"Strategic plans in the retail industry are seldom as thorough as they should be...
most sit on shelves, rarely used after they have been developed."

Retail - Strategic Direction

Strategic planning should be the life blood of a business. In most retail organizations, strategic plans are not much more than budgets and new store plans. In those organizations that have gone through the process of developing more comprehensive strategic plans, the plans often become documents sitting on credenzas in the executive suite. A few retailers get it right. Those who do are able to effectively build consensus and commitment to the organization’s objectives across functional lines; they can more effectively communicate long term strategies which provide the parameters for decision making at all levels throughout the organization; and they are able to properly guide the allocation of resources and continuous improvement efforts throughout the organization. Importantly, their plans are “live” or “working” documents that are routinely monitored and updated. These retailers are the ones who are best positioned to experience profitable growth, improved competitive positioning in the marketplace and highest return on investment.

Our Experience and Expertise

Our experience and expertise in facilitating strategic planning, particularly with regional and family owned retailers, is extensive. In every case, our retail clients have been able to accelerate growth or reverse negative trends. We are viewed as specialists in this area.

Our understanding of all aspects of retail procurement, merchandising, marketing, store operations, technology, shopper insights etc., provides added value to our clients. We are not just a facilitator of the strategic planning process, we are a key resource and integral part of the process. We become involved in areas such as multiple banner strategies and consumer positioning; new formats, organizational effectiveness and the alignment of performance metrics; corporate infrastructure design, increased selling space planning, strategic deployment of IT resources and more. We are often retained to facilitate quarterly review meetings as well as the annual updating process.

Strategic Plan Facilitation and Development

Strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next several years and how it's going to get there. It builds consensus and commitment to the organization’s objectives across functional lines, it clearly defines and communicates long term strategies which provide the parameters for decision making at all levels throughout the organization, it guides the allocation of resources and continuous improvement efforts throughout the organization and it is a measurement of the organization’s overall performance and of specific functional performance.

We use a goals-based planning model which focuses on the organization's Vision, Core Values, Mission, Goals, Environmental Assumptions, SWOT Analysis, Critical Success Factors, Strategies and Action plans. (who will do what and by when).

We suggest Strategic Plans cover a three year horizon with annual updates. For financial purposes, e.g., capital expenditures, a five-year or even longer planning period can be used. The Strategic Plan should be a “live” or “working document” that is routinely monitored.

Far more important than the strategic planning document is the strategic planning process itself. In order to guard against producing a document that ends up collecting dust on the shelf, we employ a thorough “end-to-end” , highly disciplined, five step process. This ensures achievement of a company’s desired outcomes.

This process, which is highly participative, is outlined below:

We begin with identification of the planning task force members, selected interviews and an information gathering process. The final task in the first step is a review of the strategic vision, mission statement and corporate goals with the President/CEO.

The second step in the process is a facilitated two-day, off-site session with the Task Force members to confirm or modify the Mission Statement, review goals, agree to planning assumptions, conduct a SWOT Analysis, gain consensus on the Critical Success Factors and develop strategies to support each CSF. Task Force members are then assigned responsibility for developing action plans in support of the CSFs.

The third step is the development of the action plans by each Business Unit in support of the CSFs. The action plans become the “living” part of the strategic plan. These action plans are developed by the Business Units and reviewed and agreed to by the Task Force during a second off-site meeting. The action plans are included as part of the final strategic plan; the forth step of the process.

Once the Task Force work is complete, the strategic plan is prepared for presentation to and approval by the Board.

The final step is implementation. This is when the document “comes to life”. Action plans are reviewed with the Senior Leadership team on a quarterly basis. The Business Units are responsible for delivering the action plans on-time, as planned. Any variances must be approved by the CEO and, in some instances, the Board.

3rd Party Facilitation and Design Guidance is Essential

Our extensive experience in strategic planning facilitation, combined with our “real world “management experience in the retail industry, ideally qualifies WWA to be the consulting firm you select to assist with your strategic planning processes. We typically deliver plans that are value added, focus on the future and embraced by the organization.