No organization functions without long-term planning. Businesses, governments and nonprofit agencies rely on strategic planners to pinpoint weaknesses, as well as forecast trends and identify opportunities for organizational growth. To achieve these goals, a strategic planner conducts interviews, market research and opinion polling. He then analyzes the resulting data and makes recommendations to help improve an organization's performance. In doing his job, the planner aims to guide the organization toward a proactive mode, instead of a reactive one.
Analysis and Planning
A strategic planner spends much of his time analyzing the economic, political, social and technical environment in which the organization operates. He then reviews the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats affecting the organization, and writes a report -- or SWOT analysis -- based on that information, advises consultant Carter McNamara in an article for the Free Management Library. The planner then presents his findings to the organization's management for further review and follow-up.
To confirm if an organization's activities meet public needs, a strategic planner studies its customers' buying habits, which he breaks down into demographic categories, or market segments, an analysis from Ohio State University's Max M. Fisher College of Business indicates. He then evaluates whether each segment is growing, leveling off or declining. With the planner's guidance, a company or public agency can determine its strongest and weakest performance areas, and adjust its long-term strategic plan to address those issues.
Once he identifies the major issues, a strategic planner devises goals for what the organization must do. For governmental entities, this effort is best accomplished in a goal-setting or retreat session with a focused agenda, according to an August 2008 article posted by the Municipal Research and Services Center. In a business context, the planner outlines specific goals, how to achieve them and who should execute them, McNamara says. He summarizes these activities in an annual plan for the company and individual work plans for each department.
Without the right people in the right jobs, an organization is unlikely to succeed. Strategic planners can help determine if a worker's knowledge, skills and abilities is helping to accomplish his employer's goals and objectives, says Andrea Soberg, a certified human resource professional writing for the HR Voice website. If those knowledge, skills and abilities don't mesh properly, the planner develops methods to improve the employee's motivation and performance. His recommendations, in turn, become part of a company's plan to reduce staff turnover.