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The Benefits of Strategic Planning

By Garry O'Neil

Businesses often fail because they don't have a strategic plan in place, or if they do, they haven't implemented it well. If a business has little idea of where it's headed, it will wander aimlessly; priorities will change constantly, and employees will become confused about the purpose of their jobs.

Without a plan, a company creates expectations in a void where there is little or no alignment with common goals.

A strategic plan helps provide a specific direction and focus for all employees. It points to specific results to achieve and establishes a course of action for achieving them. A strategic plan also helps the various work units within the organization align themselves with common goals.

No matter how small or large an organization, all businesses will benefit from strategic planning. And more importantly, the process of developing a plan will prove rewarding for all parties involved.

It will help develop stronger communications between upper management and the rest of the company.

Once a company develops a strategic plan, the keys to making the plan work are a commitment to seeing the plan through and a sound implementation of it.

Businesses often develop strategic plans, but fail toimplement them, or lack focus to stay committed to the corporate strategy. One of the reasons for a lack of focus is the inability for managers to understand that planning is a process, not a single event or one-time effort.

If companies fail to plan, then they are planning to fail. The goal of any business is to achieve long-term prosperity. In order to do this, it needs to have a roadmap for that goal.

Making a decision to plan is the most direct way for any business to achieve immediate return on investment. But more importantly, planning develops a process for a high level of accountability; it also defines boundaries for expectations and performance that all tie into financial, customer, competitive and market intelligence.

Furthermore, strategic planning helps set up an early warning system that might reveal success or identify impending failure.

Through strategic planning, businesses will be better prepared to gain the most benefit with clearly defined and understood performance goals.

In addition, organizations develop a sense of security among employees that comes from helping them to better understand and adapt to the company's changing environment and growth.

Although strategic planning does not guarantee success every time, it's better than doing nothing at all.

Garry O'Neil is President/Chief Executive Officer for Electronic Exchange Systems (EXS), a national provider of merchant processing solutions. Founded in 1991, EXS offers ISO partner programs, innovative pricing, a complete product line, monthly phone/Web training, annual seminars and, most of all, credibility. For more information on EXS, please visit or e-mail Garry O'Neil at .

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