Strategic planning sets the direction for the company and provides a context for making management decisions regarding the allocation of resources to achieve the desired returns. As we work with our clients in setting direction, we use a five-step model: a means of setting direction, making informed decisions, and allocating resources that we developed building on our experiences as front-line leaders in the US Army.
Develop the strategy.
We help our clients develop vision and mission statements that reflect their businesses as well as the associated value propositions that provide the backdrop for making day-to-day management decisions — whether regarding capital budgeting, hiring, or pricing decisions. We give our clients an understanding of the competitive dynamics in their market segment, teach them how to set realistic goals and objectives, and position the business to achieve management’s objectives. We often use scenario planning to illustrate potential alternative futures, leading to the development of a set of strategic options that give our clients flexibility to react to changes in the market, bring them a degree of certainty in an uncertain world.
Assess the business.
Once we understand what the business wishes to achieve, we assess its operations to understand how the business is growing revenues, allocating capital, and controlling costs. We accomplish this task through our Azimuth Check — as part of the strategic planning process (or even as a standalone service), TSC can perform a business audit to analyze a company’s particular circumstances and offer specific suggestions for immediate improvement in returns on invested capital and returns to shareholders.
TSC measures your business against a state-of-the-art checklist and a proprietary analysis using publicly available financial information (or your internal financial information prepared in advance). After this process is complete, we provide specific guidance, based on quantitative and qualitative data, to the party who has retained us: the CEO, the board of directors, investors, or shareholders. The TSC Azimuth Check is designed to provide the company with an objective third-party evaluation of its business, and the operations of that business, from the perspective of experienced financial professionals just as if the company were being evaluated by a potential strategic partner. The Azimuth Check covers each of the company’s key functional areas and can be extended to include in-depth interviews of senior, middle, or junior management to round out and supplant the base analysis.
Identify potential opportunities for improvement in growth or operations.
After fully reviewing the results of the Azimuth Check, TSC will be able to identify specific opportunities and test a range of scenarios that will quantify the potential value associated with each particular opportunity. This valuation measure, along with other finance-driven capital budgeting measures, leads to a prioritized list for execution and implementation.
Develop the execution plan.
Once the opportunities we have identified are prioritized, our clients can develop their path to profitability — the clear set of action steps associated with bridging the gap between the desired objectives and the current performance. Once we have decided on the key actions to undertake, we develop a rigorous plan to help our clients achieve their objectives. This execution plan will allocate resources and capital to achieve the goals developed from the previous step.
We also help our clients develop appropriate key performance indicators and drivers of value for their specific strategy in their specific context. Monitoring and managing based on these elements will help keep the client “on azimuth” and even identify what specific adjustments should be considered to their course of action. The performance management construct also provides an appropriate feedback mechanism that TSC uses to execute further refinement of the company’s strategy.
Undertaking a strategic review is no small matter. This process is an inflection point in the history of the firm. Decisions made today will guide the firm for many years and serve as the rationale for countless decisions. When focused on strategic issues, we pride ourselves on rapid insight, cutting through extraneous, distracting issues to focus on the critical factors that will form the linchpin of a new strategy. When you engage TSC as your strategic planning partner, you gain more than just a few bodies and smart minds. You gain someone who can guide the process from the outside, without bias and with the objectivity and distance to help the company see itself clearly. Our goal will match yours, but most often what is required is both the preparation of strategic alternatives (or variants on a current strategy) and assistance in choosing among them. Just as internal strategic planning teams, we commence with management and board interviews to determine the key strategic issues facing the firm and then conduct market research to find relevant data to analyze those issues. After a number of proposals are sketched out, we facilitate a 1-2 day offsite strategic planning session with the board and senior management. Finally, we prepare a summary, with comprehensive backup, of the strategic plan developed by the company as well as an action plan for implementation measures.
The normal timeframe for completing a project of this magnitude is four to six weeks.