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Business Discussions | 29 April, 2024

Strategic Planning Consultant Guide

Considering the importance of using evidence to guide strategic planning, how can a business best integrate data-driven insights into their decision-making processes? If your company is gearing up for strategic business planning, you have likely been advised to seek out an expert strategic business planning consultant. However, finding the right consultant can be challenging. Despite the abundance of strategic planning consultants available, identifying strategic planning advice from a top strategic planning consulting firms that aligns with your organization’s unique needs can be a complex task.

 

In this article, we will explore Strategic Planning Basics, the Role of a Strategic Planning Consultant, How to Choose the Right Consultant, Effective Collaboration with Your Consultant, and What to Expect Once Your Strategic Plan is Finalized.

 

Strategic Planning Basics

This strategic planning facilitation guide outlines the fundamental steps of the strategic planning proposal process before you begin searching for a strategic planning consultant. It explains the process of developing a strategic plan, emphasizing the importance of understanding what consulting strategic planning entails, its significance, and the strategic planners’ role.

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is a structured process aimed at guiding an organization in envisioning, documenting, and committing to its future trajectory, encompassing strategies, goals, objectives, and actionable activities. This process results in the development of a strategic plan, which serves as a comprehensive roadmap. 

A strategic plan sets the organization’s direction, outlines how to achieve it, and establishes success metrics. While long-term visions may span 3, 5, or 10 years, concrete goals and actions usually cover a 3-5-year period. Emphasizing that strategic planning goes beyond paperwork, more than 60% of plans remain unimplemented. This underscores the need to treat strategic planning as continuous engagement, involving leadership and stakeholders in crafting a shared vision beyond the written plan.

To ensure the effectiveness of this process, organizations may seek assistance from a strategic planning consulting firm or a strategic planning firm that offers strategic planning services. These firms may specialize in various approaches, such as real-time strategic planning or vision planning and consulting.

 

Strategic Planning Consultant Guide

 

Why is Strategic Planning important?

Without a strategic plan, organizations struggle to prioritize effectively. Leaders make daily decisions about programs, staff, and finances, often without clear guide consultants. This can lead to wasted resources and mission drift, where organizations lose focus on their core goals. If you are curious about “what/why consulting”, engaging in strategic planning consulting can bring significant benefits:

  • It builds consensus among leaders, ensuring everyone is on the same page about the organization’s direction and priorities.
  • It aligns the entire organization around a clear and motivating vision for the future.
  • It improves resource utilization by setting clear goals and evaluating progress in real-time.
  • It guides strategic decision-making, ensuring decisions support the organization’s mission and values.

Here’s an overview of what does a strategic planner do, how to become a strategy consultant, and the various roles in planning consultant jobs.

The Role of a Strategic Planning Consultant

What is a Strategic Consultant?

You might wonder, what is a planning consultant? Well, a strategic planning consultant takes charge of an organization’s strategic planning process, overseeing stakeholder involvement and ensuring effective execution. These business planning experts handle tasks like creating a work plan and timeline, facilitating stakeholder feedback, leading planning sessions, fostering consensus, and drafting the final strategic plan.

The Value of a Facilitated Strategic Planning Process

Many organizations find it beneficial to engage the services of an outside strategy consultancy or business planning consultant rather than doing internally.

While attempting strategic planning alone may seem cost-effective initially, it can ultimately prove more expensive. Here’s why:

  1. Strategic planning demands considerable time and input from senior leadership, which translates to valuable resources. When top-level staff are occupied with planning logistics instead of focusing on strategic direction, it can result in missed opportunities. Strategic consultants can streamline the process, ensuring efficient utilization of resources.
  2. An outside strategic plan facilitator can help mitigate groupthink and ensure all voices are heard during the planning process. Without one, power dynamics within the organization may hinder the exchange of honest input. A skilled strategic plan consultant fosters an environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed.
  3. Achieving consensus among stakeholders is vital for successful strategic planning. If there are conflicting ideas among stakeholders, reaching an agreement can be challenging. A consultant with expertise in consensus-building can guide the process effectively.

 

Given these considerations, many organizations prefer to collaborate with a strategic planning consulting firm or business planning experts. This allows organizational leadership to focus on strategic decision-making while the strategic planning facilitator manages the logistical aspects of the planning process.

 

How to choose a Strategic Planning Consultant

If you have not worked with any strategic planning companies before, you will need to create a request for proposals (RFP). It’s best to interview and compare proposals from at least two to three business plan consultants before making a decision.

 

Have Questions? Looking To Get Started?

 

 

What to look for in a Strategic Planning Consulting Firm

When selecting planning consultants, you will typically start with an initial call to discuss your organization and goals, followed by the consultant preparing a proposal for your review.

Here are some things to consider as you evaluate strategic management consultants:

Experience: Look for consultants with a track record of successful consulting planning. You will need an individual with ample experience but who also tailors their approach to your organization’s needs.

Industry familiarity: Ensure the business plan consultant understands your industry. Different organizations have unique dynamics, so it is essential to find an expert with your sector and organization size.

Project scope: Review the strategic planning advisor’s proposed plan, including timelines and deliverables. Understand the process, expected time commitment from your team, and roles and responsibilities

Planning models: Ask about the strategic planning and consulting models or tools to use. Make sure they explain their approach clearly and how it will benefit your organization. Additionally, clarify the planning consultant responsibilities to ensure alignment with your needs.

Track record: Request references from previous clients to assess the effectiveness and approach of the consultant’s strategy development services. This helps ensure they are a good fit for your organization.

Fees: The primary concern often revolves around “How much does a strategic plan cost?” It’s essential to thoroughly review all fees and payment schedules provided in the proposal, and be ready to offer an upfront deposit for the strategic planning process. This includes considering factors such as strategic planning cost, strategic planning consulting fees, and strategic planning facilitator fees.

 

How much does a Strategic Development Consulting Process cost?

Strategic business planning consultants fees can vary greatly, ranging from $5,000 to $80,000 or more when searching online.

It is important to determine your needs and budget upfront. Consider establishing a budget range and sharing it with the consultant or the planning firm during your initial discussions. If they cannot accommodate your budget, you may need to adjust your expectations. Below are several factors that can influence the cost:

Consultant’s experience and firm size: Smaller firms may have lower strategic planning consulting services fees, while larger, established firms typically charge more. However, firm size does not always indicate process quality.

 

Service level: A basic, one-size-fits-all service may be cheaper but requires more effort from your leadership compared to a comprehensive and customized approach.

 

Organization size and complexity: Larger organizations with multiple branches or complex histories may require more extensive and time-consuming planning processes. Furthermore, planning and development consultants may charge extra for services such as travel, stakeholder interviews, implementation planning, department-level planning, and ongoing support.

When considering business planning companies, it’s crucial to factor in various elements, including the strategic planning consultant hourly rate. While cost shouldn’t be the sole determinant, it’s an integral part of the decision-making process. Investing in an experienced consultant might mean a higher fee but can yield better outcomes. So, aim for a balance between cost and expertise to ensure your organization benefits from a solid consultant business plan and consultant strategy.

 

Strategic Planning Consultant Salary

 

Questions to ask a Strategic Planning Consulting Firm

As you review strategic planning proposals or have discussions afterward, it’s helpful to ask some probing questions to get to the heart of the matter. Here are a few examples:

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Strategic-Planning-Consultant-Salary#Yearly

  • Which of the following is considered the final stage of the strategic planning process?
  • How often should a firm undertake the process of strategic planning?
  • How often should a company revise its strategic plan?
  • Which of the following is true of strategic planning in a firm?
  • How often should a company revise its strategic plan?
  • Why do we often have trouble with long-term planning?
  • What does a strategy consultant do?
  • How will you customize the strategic planning process for our organization?
  • Can you share your experience working with organizations similar to ours, and what lessons have you learned?
  • What is your facilitation style? 
  • How do you build consensus among stakeholders?
  • How do you address conflicts that arise during the process?
  • What should our leadership team do to ensure success in the strategic planning process?
  • What are the common challenges organizations face during strategic planning, and how do you address them?
  • How do you handle strategic issues beyond your expertise?
  • What support do you offer for implementing the strategic plan? Do you provide additional services if needed?

 

Working with a Strategic Planning Consultant

Now that you have selected your strategic development consultant, it is time to proceed with the steps in a business planning consulting process. Generally, a strategic planning process involves these key steps:

Preparation: Develop a work plan, analyze stakeholder input, assess organizational strengths and weaknesses, and clarify the vision and mission.

Planning Sessions: Engage in an intensive consultant strategic planning sessions to build consensus and alignment among stakeholders.

Plan Creation: Finalize your written strategic plan, which may include a report or slide deck. Ensure internal awareness, alignment, and buy-in across your organization.

While implementation is critical, it is usually not part of the planning consultant duties or scope. Choosing the right business plan consulting or nonprofit strategic planning consultant can greatly impact the success of this process.

In planning consultancy, knowing when to lead and when to follow is key. While the executives may have a clear vision, staying open to new insights is crucial. The executives should see themselves as active participants, not sole drivers, trusting the business planning advisor’s expertise for creative insights and “ah-ha” moments with the team.

 

Let's Get Started!

 

 

If your Strategic Planning Consulting Firm is a bad fit

If your strategic planning consultant is not a good fit, it is imperative for the CEO or Executive Director to lead the way again. Occasionally, incompatibilities in style or expertise can arise, making it challenging to proceed. In such cases, it is essential to pause and have a transparent conversation with the business plan consulting firm.

During this discussion, provide specific feedback and examples of what isn’t working and explore ways to realign the engagement. If necessary, refer to the contract for terms and conditions regarding ending the engagement.

Your Strategic Plan is ready…Now what? 

Congratulations on completing your strategic planning process! With the help of a skilled strategy development consultant, you have developed a comprehensive strategic plan that sets your organization up for success. Now it is time to implement your plan, and that’s where the real work begins.

Here’s how to roll out your strategic plan:

  1. Simplify the key points for easy understanding. Consider using graphics, slide decks, or brief emails to communicate the main goals.
  2. Share your genuine enthusiasm for the plan. As a CEO or Executive Director, your excitement sets the tone for your team’s engagement.
  3. Address how the plan will impact different stakeholders, such as staff or volunteers. Be transparent about any changes that may affect them.
  4. Create opportunities for questions and answers. This can be done through individual check-ins, department meetings, or all-staff gatherings.
  5. Prepare for tough questions by providing FAQs or gathering feedback through surveys. This helps address concerns and build buy-in from your team.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and effective rollout of your strategic plan.

 

Operationalizing a Strategic Plan

Moving from strategy to action marks the next crucial phase. Operationalizing a strategic plan is an ongoing process, and several considerations must be addressed:

  • Evaluate the impact on each department or program unit and clarify their respective responsibilities. Determine if additional resources or adjustments are needed to accommodate new goals.
  • Assess the need for new hires and plan recruitment strategies accordingly. Consider whether internal resources are sufficient or if external assistance is required.
  • Address financial implications, particularly for new costs. Nonprofits should review their fundraising strategies to support implementation.
  • Establish decision-making processes for implementation. Ensure leadership is committed to using the strategic plan as a guide for future decisions.

While these questions provide a starting point, operationalizing a strategic plan requires careful planning and execution. Consider engaging a planner consultant who can assist in developing implementation plans alongside the strategic plan.

 

How often should a company revise its Strategic Plan?

Organizations should treat their strategic plan like a roadmap, checking progress regularly to ensure alignment with goals and direction.

We recommend board and staff leadership review progress quarterly or at least twice per year to keep the strategic vision in focus and allow for real-time adjustments.

Since strategic plans typically span 3-5 years, start considering the next planning process during budgeting before the current plan expires. This usually takes 9-12 months to explore options, define scope, and engage consultants.

If implementation deviates significantly from the plan, consider a revision process with your strategic planning facilitators to realign with organizational needs and goals. When the current plan no longer serves its purpose, it is time for a new one.

 

Conclusion

Effective organizational strategy consulting is paramount for businesses aiming to thrive in today’s dynamic landscape. By partnering with a strategic planning consultant, companies can harness the power of strategic business plans to navigate challenges and seize opportunities.

So if you are looking for a planning consultant near me, you are in the right place. Unlock your organization’s full potential with BSBCON‘s strategic planning services, driving sustainable growth. Our business plan consulting services offer customized support, developing comprehensive business plans as roadmaps for success. Contact us now to maximize your potential and pave the way for long-term success.