Strategic Planning in a Recovering Market (3 of 3)

October 12, 2010

Here are some of final insights from a NIWeek 2010 Alliance Day presentation given by Don Roberts, Exotek. He is a principal of a consulting and operations-support company focused solely on the systems integrator.

Objectives and Measures

The end result of good strategic planning is a set of goals considered critical to the future success of the organization. Each goal is accompanied by specific objectives clarifying what must be done and what is critical to success. Just as important, are defining the measures that will track the accomplishment of the objective? The measures should be:

  • Linked: Measurements communicate what is strategically important by linking back to your strategic objectives.
  • Repeatable: Measurements are continuous over time, allowing comparisons.
  • Leading: Measurements can be used for establishing targets, leading to future performance.
  • Accountable: Measurements are reliable, verifiable, and accurate.
  • Available: Measurements can be derived when they are needed.


  • Over the next six months, delivery times will decrease by 15% through more localized delivery centers.
  • By the year 2013, customer turnover will decline by 30% through newly created customer service representatives and pro-active customer maintenance procedures.
  • Un-billable time will get cut in half by cross training front line personnel and combining all four operating departments into one single service center.

Plans into Actions

As you put your plans into actions, determine who is the right person or team to accomplish these goals. Consider all people that influence change, including outside contributor or perhaps even a facilitator. Then, decide what the appropriate timing is. A major plan may take more than a year, but should have quarterly or monthly reviews.


Strategic Planning in a Recovering Market (1-3)

September 28, 2010

Many companies begin their annual planning process in Q4 of each year. So, I thought that I would pass along some of the insights of Don Roberts, Exotek. He is a principal of a consulting and operations-support company focused solely on the systems integrator. At NIWeek 2010, Don offered his advice on strategic planning as our market recovers.

More than 75% of the average company’s market value comes from intangible assets that traditional metrics don’t measure

                                -Kaplan and Norton HBR 2000

Strategic Planning

The primary goal of strategic planning is to build organizational focus and competency. It gives you the opportunity to balance short term pressures with your long term goals. You can also assess your market situation and react to the changing environment proactively. Then, you can establish organizational alignment.

Strategic planning also provides a recurring process whereby your organization makes choices:

  • Why do we exist?
  • What are our major goals?
  • What resources do we need for a successful future?
  • Who will be our customers?

But, strategic planning is not a way of making future decisions. You can’t create a blueprint of the future because there is no guarantee that things will not change. So, strategic planning should not be a long and drawn out process, but rather an efficient annual assessment of your business to make necessary course adjustments.

Getting Started

Don recommends beginning your strategic planning process, but clarifying:

  • Mission – Why do we exist
  • Core Values – What is important to us
  • Vision – What we want to be

He cautions that semantics not important. The real goal is develop a consensus on the fundamental aspects of your company that will govern your strategic decisions.

Next, consider your product and/or service offering. Review what you are currently selling from your customer’s perspective. Why are they buying from you? What is your competitive strategy? Is your offering valued by customers? Sustainable? Hard to match?

Next, you can define what you want to accomplish in the coming year.  These objectives can be hard or soft, but there can only be one set. Consider organizing them into four perspectives:

  • Financial
  • Customer
  • Internal Processes
  • Learning and Growth

Once your objectives are set, you can drive them into your annual operating plans. For instance, determine how these objectives translate into specific goals for your leaders and how they affect the personal development of your employees. How do your objectives impact the development plans for your products and services? And, what are your marketing and sales plans to capture business for those products and services.

Your Business Foundation – Part 5 – Putting Plans into Action

April 27, 2009

With the annual strategic plan completed, you can now bring your new corporate objectives back to the organization. Take the opportunity to call a company meeting. It’s a good chance to show the organization your commitment to the business as well as eliminate thoughts about hidden agendas. You can then chart new directions and announce necessary adjustments.

Tie Corporate Objectives to Management Goalsplans-into-action

You also want to meet with your managers. Even if they participated in the strategic planning, it is a good idea to follow up and ensure that there is as seemless integration from mission/vision to business plan/objectives and down to goals/actions. The goals and actions should be: specific, short-ranged, obtainable, and measurable.

Speaking of measurable, you should agree on how to monitor and review them. Finally, check for understanding and agreement to complete the delegation process. Consider tying them into their compensation (e.g. MBOs).

Use KPIs to Create Corporate Dashboard

Once you have established the metrics by which you will monitor if you are on track to meet your business plan, then you determine which ones are most critical. These are commonly known as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Note there may not be a KPI for every single element of your business – just those critical to your success or perhaps important to a new aspect of your strategic plan. These KPIs become your Corporate Dashboard. Similar to a car, you’re corporate dashboard contains the vital information about where you are going and how your vehicle is performing.


During my business consultation with APNA, our second Select Alliance Partner in India, they showed me their corporate dashboard – actually a LabVIEW VI with nothing but LEDs that were either green or red for each of their KPIs in each of their business areas. I was particularly curious about the Project indicator. So, I asked Gigi Mathews, their quality officer, who I would also learn was affectionately known as the ‘evil metrics woman’ by her colleagues. She responded, “If 100% of all projects are on time and budget, then it’s green. Otherwise, it is red.” I wondered if it had ever been green. She said, “No.” So, I suggest to her with all due respect that I didn’t know of any system integrators for which the indicator would be green. Nevertheless, I appreciated their efforts to define and track KPIs to build a corporate dashboard for their business.

Question: What are some of the KPIs on your corporate dashboard?