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Strategic Planning as A Financial Enabler

August 14, 2019

Strategic Planning as A Financial Enabler

Synopsis
3 Minute Read

Strategic planning season is upon many financial officers and as such, let’s explore the purpose and benefits of undertaking the process properly.

Strategic planning season is upon many financial officers and as such, let’s explore the purpose and benefits of undertaking the process properly. Your organization’s strategic plan should provide organizational direction, staff alignment through a strategic hierarchy, levels of service, identify projects and performance measures. When combined, this gives you insight into resource requirements, capital budget, how non-financial performance will be tracked and provides transparency as required.

Ideally the plan is managed thereafter; enabling measurement of performance against the strategic hierarchy. This is highly beneficial for identifying gaps in resource, competency, roadblocks and compliance, to mention a few issues, for the rest of the organization. On top of that, for financial officers quality strategic planning/management will enable your organization to:

  • Help establish a budget through a comprehensive project register
  • Help predict budget reviews through consolidated project updates
  • Save on loan interest by providing more accurate/timely loan requirements
  • Simplify financial/non-financial annual reporting processes
  • Inform project prioritization and justification
  • Provide capacity analysis — how much you can afford to do
  • Integrate with and inform long term plans
  • In advanced organizations it is used for cash-flow forecasting.

For any of this to happen, the plan needs to be comprehensive, communicated and well managed. Here are some pointers to ensure success:

  • Priority plans are different; these highlight high-level goals, then select projects. Avoid the confusion and aim to incorporate all projects as actions or programs.
  • Manage the plan when it is complete
  • Plan to your budget/resource limits
  • Get staff on board — lack of understanding or involvement in the process can make it difficult to get a comprehensive plan/plan updates.
  • Invest in your plan content, not a repository — software solutions do not fill the void; when you are ready, review the free options available prior to getting heavily invested.
  • Create achievable levels of service and metrics
  • Ensure you have the in-house knowledge/training and framework to properly write the plan
  • Collaborate — learn from your neighbours and peers

Strategic plans can be extremely powerful and are worth doing right. If you are looking to leverage your strategic plan to get the benefits above, then get involved in the process. Ensure the right data is being captured and the framework can provide what you need in a simpler manner.

Happy Planning!

Jarred Thomas is a Manager, Consulting Services with MNP, a leading national accounting, tax and consulting firm. He can be contacted at 778.309.4731 or [email protected] 

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