A Fresh Look at Strategic Planning

It is that time of year when we’re closing out the year and looking forward to 2020. We set goals to advance our organizations, initiatives to achieve them and budgets to support them. How’s your strategic plan looking for 2020 – and beyond?

iStock-1133383903Strategic planning is something that I look forward to at Marco. I feel like we have a solid strategic planning process and we refined it even more this year.

Each year, it results in a formal written plan that serves as a roadmap for the coming year. In addition to identifying key goals and budgets for our company, each department establishes supporting initiatives.

This year, we are extending our annual plan into a three-year outlook. It’s leading us to make a series of changes to how we develop and execute our strategic plan. A good framework that we’ve found for strategic planning is building objectives around three key areas:

  1. Growth
  2. Efficiency
  3. Investment

Some goals and initiatives fall under one category and others can touch two or all three. We consider the 5 Ws and an H for each initiative: what, when, where, why, who and how. We then create a one-page summary that visually communicates our goals and a detailed spreadsheet that establishes the actions, budget, outcomes and timelines. This should help stakeholders understand the direction and how we can help each other be successful.

Here’s a look at how you could put this framework to work with your team:


  • How much will you grow next year and over the next three years?
    Set specific numbers and think beyond revenue to profitability. For example, you may want to focus on increasing your high-margin revenue or maybe exit an area of your business that no longer fits your strategy.
  • How will you grow?
    Consider your opportunities for growth, based on products or services, geography and customer profiles. Be specific about how the growth targets will be achieved.

Ideas to spur conversation…

  • Are there services you can cross-sell or bundle to expand the relationship?
  • Is an acquisition or merger a possibility?
  • What are ways that you can generate recurring revenue?


  • How can you more efficiently deliver value to your customers?
    This may be one of the most important questions we ask ourselves as leaders. When organizations start evaluating how efficiently they deliver value, they can uncover new opportunities. For example, could you more effectively deliver your services remotely or do you need to be on-site?
  • How can you make it easier to buy, sell and manage?
    Over time, organizations tend to overcomplicate the work. Step back and identify how you can put good processes and systems in place to reduce waste and create a more consistent, high quality (and enjoyable) experience for your employees and your customers.

Ideas to spur conversation…

  • How can you improve your procurement strategy?
  • Where do your team members feel like they are spending too much time and how can technology help?
  • What can your vendors do that you have traditionally done yourselves?


  • Where should you invest?
    Getting results requires us to make financial commitments – in equipment, technology and talent. Knowing what’s needed to drive your organization forward, and how they rank in priority, should be an essential part of your strategic plan.
  • How will this yield a result?
    It’s common to outline a list of ideas and costs. We find value in establishing benchmarks and defining key performance indicators to support the investment.

Ideas to spur conversation…

  • Where do you need to expand talent?
  • What software and hardware are at the end of their life cycle?
  • What technology is driving results for others in your industry?

Maybe it’s time you “dust off” your strategic planning process. We did, and I feel good going into 2020 that we have a refreshed approach to making Marco a more efficient organization. (I’ll expand on this topic in my next blog.) The key is putting together a plan of action that you can hold yourself accountable to – month after month. Hope you had a great year and are well-positioned to achieve your goals in 2020.

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Topics: Strategy, Technology Trends, Future Technology, Strategic Planning, Growth, Technology Assessment