How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Process Automation: Step 2 – Choose the Right Strategy

Strategy is the approach you plan to take to achieve a goal. It takes into account the barriers, resources needed, and actions to take that will deliver value to your customers. Your strategy is an extension of the achievable and time-bound aspects of setting a successful measurable goal.

Taking the widget company example from the previous article that had a vision of “Best sales in the region,” how would we define a SMART goal to achieve that vision?

SMART Goal: Sign 200 new contracts for widget production and delivery in 2017.
(10% higher than the number of contracts signed in 2016 by any of the companies in the Midwest region of the National Association for Widget Production and Delivery)

For background, our example company’s executive team brain-stormed strategy options at their monthly leadership meeting and handed the list below to department managers for evaluation.

  • Increase staff quotas
  • Add staff
  • Cut prices
  • Improve marketing

However, like Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor wrote, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Rarely does a business have the luxury of being able to pursue all the strategies that could accomplish a goal.

So, how do the department managers choose what strategy to pursue? They look at the company’s mission statement and goals – what strategy falls in line with the organization’s identity? Our example company’s mission is to “be a market leader in widget production while providing excellent customer service.” With that in mind, the department managers review the options provided and give the following feedback and recommendations to their executive team.

  • Strategy: Increase Staff Quotas
    If we identify as a lean organization that values employee and customer satisfaction and work/life balance, increasing sales quotas without adding proper support and incentives will violate that principle and could potentially lower customer satisfaction because of staff time constraints.
  • Strategy: Add Sales Staff
    If customers rely on your employees’ expertise as a part of the sales process, then hiring a bunch of new unseasoned salespeople will likely not increase sales within that same year and may even hurt your sales department’s reputation.
  • Strategy: Cut Prices
    If you pride yourself on great service, but then define your goal of cutting prices that can create a waterfall effect on customer service.

That’s a strategy – now what? How do we accomplish “improve marketing?” We determine how to execute the strategy, and this is where the rubber meets the road. Naviant has gone through this process many times, both internally and with customers. Our extensive practice with different industries can provide direction based on current events and future trends. We view ourselves as a partner to our customers, and our partnership is most effective when we can help your organization fulfill its mission and meet its goals.

“It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” J.K. Rowling wrote. Once a strategy is decided upon, we can look at what skills, tools, and resources are needed to execute the strategy.

In the next article in this series, we will address objectives, which can be viewed as smaller-scale goals for middle management to execute.


Other articles in this series:



About Ann-Marie

Ann-Marie is a Project Management Institute, Professional Project Manager and 10+ year veteran of the Project Management discipline, focusing primarily on health care and information technology projects. She also holds multiple Epic Clinical application certifications and managed some Epic implementations in roles representing (at different times) the vendor, health system, and consulting firm. Ann-Marie has also worked on OnBase implementation large and small over the last few years. Currently, she is an Account Executive at Naviant in Verona, WI. Outside of work, Ann-Marie is a life-long nerd who enjoys books, video games, and cross-stitch embroidery.