Resource Planning: Before the Strategic Plan can be finally agreed and implemented, the professional servicing company leader(s) must ensure that there will be sufficient resources available for each activity at each stage of the plan. In reality, the planning for the provision of resources must be viewed as a critical element of the plan itself. The strategic plan and the objectives within it will not be achieved if the activities needed to carry out the plan are not properly supported by appropriate resources.
Resources Forecast: A resources forecast should be carried out by professionals. All planned activities, stages, and objectives should be analyzed for resource requirements. If the forecast identifies areas where the available or deliverable resources do not match the levels required, then this must be corrected or the plan must be altered. Once the leader(s) can be satisfied that the necessary resources will be available, the plan can be finalized and implemented with confidence.
Prioritizing Resources: It is tempting to rank these resources, perhaps arguing that human resources and accompanying expertise and experience should be the highest on the list, but this is not logical. Lack of, or inadequate, financial, physical, or systems resources for any one of the many activities, or at any stage of the plan, can be as damaging as not having the required human resources. It is also tempting to think of resources as only human, financial, or physical, and also as coming only from internal sources. Again, this is not appropriate, as the strategic plan needs support from other areas, internally and externally, that should also be described as resources, such as systems, policies, suppliers, external stakeholders.
Organizational Infrastructure: The shape and complexity of the organizational structure should be designed to serve the strategic direction taken. A structure that is as flexible, dynamic, and responsive a structure as possible is essential. In some business sectors, for example in many parts of the public sector, there will be constraints and barriers that will dictate a more bureaucratic and rigid structure that limits responsiveness and flexibility. Much of this may be unavoidable, but it should be continually challenged and loosened where possible. In most other sectors there is no excuse. The leaders of organizations in commercially driven sectors and this now includes education, health, charities, and the utilities, must strive to structure their organizations so that they can respond to the fast pace and continual changes of today's professional servicing business world.
Systems, Policies, Procedures: In functional areas such as IT, Finance, HR and Personnel, Performance Appraisal and Reward, Conditions of Employment, Working Patterns, Training and Development, the systems, policies, and procedures must be operating in support of the strategic plan and the accompanying operational activities. An appropriate Quality Assurance Management System should be in place, guided by the strategic objectives, constantly monitoring the quality standards of all the systems, including its own, to ensure that they are not hindering or damaging the chances of achieving the strategic objectives.
Location: For most organizations, the location is not easily changeable, and would not normally be challenged. But the leader(s) must look at the current location in terms of its strategic suitability. If the location is not supportive of the strategies, then alternatives must at least be explored. If moving to a more appropriate location is logistically and financially possible, then that relocation should take place at the earliest opportunity.
In the field or purchasing and supply, 1973 was a year to be remembered. A world-wide boom in industrialised countries produced record prices in markets for food, raw materials and manufactured goods. Rates of inflation in the U.S.A., Western Europe and Japan began to approach South American levels. The value of the dollar, the pound and other major currencies fluctuated dramatically, and the stock market experienced falls comparable to those which occurred during the slump in the thirties. Finally, 1973 was the year of the oil embargo, when oil prices were almost doubled and oil supplies to the West were cut by 15
Front-line Physical Resources: For manufacturing organizations, this will encompass production facilities, plant, equipment, and so on. For service sector organizations this will mean the physical resources at the point of sale and/or delivery points. The condition and capacity of physical resources in these areas must be able to meet the operational demands dictated by the strategies.
Support Functions Physical Resources: For most professional servicing organizations, this means activity areas such as procurement, design, research and development, administration, finance, human resources, maintenance, marketing, sales, distribution, and so on.
Managers in front-line and support areas must focus on achieving the operational objectives that have been derived from the strategic plans. The leader(s) must implement a system of regular performance appraisal and consultation to ensure that these areas are resourced appropriately and operated effectively.
Suppliers: A key resource, but because they are outside the organization, are often forgotten. The quality of supplies, be they raw materials, equipment, parts, consumables, people, or advisory services, is a critical factor in the capability of the organization. If inputs are not of the right quality then costs can rise, damage can be caused, delays can occur, and the operational performance of the organization could suffer. In turn, the achievement of the strategic objectives of the organization could be delayed or damaged.
Human Resources: The question that the leader(s) must ask is whether the quality, quantity, and distribution of the human resources within the organization, is sufficient to satisfy the needs of the chosen strategies. Existing staffing levels, degrees of expertise and experience, flexibility, distribution, predicted wastage or turnover, are all areas that need analyzing. Intangible factors, such as levels of morale, motivation, cultural attitudes, should also be evaluated. A human resources audit must be carried out and where gaps or weaknesses are identified these must be corrected, and brought up to the required levels.
Financial Resources: In simple terms, the leader(s) must be satisfied that the funding, the cash-flows, the budgets, will meet the demands of the activities. If necessary, and affordable, additional funding must be obtained, linking this resource need to external stakeholders as discussed below, such as banks, shareholders, and other investors.
Marketing and Distribution: whatever the product or service that the organization is offering, the marketing and distribution functions are as important, if not more so, than any other internal function. Without revenue, whether from customer sales, grants, government funds, or other sources, the organization must persuade the purchaser, or provider, to deliver revenue to it. This revenue will be a critical element of the financial resources needed to support the planned activity, and the continued flow of this revenue must be protected. This entails ensuring that the marketing and distribution function is itself appropriately funded.
External Stakeholders: This group of resource sources includes shareholders, investors and other funding organizations discussed in the section on Financial Resources. These need to be managed and informed appropriately. Other stakeholders could, depending on the nature of the business, include the local authorities, public services, local and-or national media, trade unions, local residents, national or international governments, national or international trade organizations, business partners, and so on. Where the support of any external stakeholder is identified as important to the success of the strategic plan, then effort and energy should be spent on building and maintaining a positive relationship with them. Maintaining positive relationships with external stakeholders is essential, as they are a vital resource in supporting the organization
We must also consider the Intangible Resources.
Intangible Resources: These include goodwill, reputation, and brands. Individually and collectively these can be important to the success of the strategic plan. Goodwill is a value given to the reputation, the customer loyalty, the brand values, and in some cases the public image of the organization. In monetary terms, it is the difference in saleable value, or total value, between the tangible assets value given to the business and the actual value that a buyer would pay or an investor would calculate when deciding to invest or not. The reputation that the organization has amongst its competitors, with its customers, in the public psyche, and although difficult to calculate, is also valuable. Brands can be highly valuable, as demonstrated by some of the best-known, which generate immediate positive responses throughout the world.These intangible assets are resources, with a value, which the strategic plan will have considered and made use of, or planned to protect, or develop, as part of the plan. The leader(s) must ensure that these resources, these assets, are managed effectively and support the strategic plan as intended.
Management: The effectiveness of the individuals and teams that make up the management of the organization are critical to the success of the chosen strategies. Without an effective management network supporting the planned activity and striving to achieve the strategic and operational objectives, the strategies will fail. As discussed in an earlier article, the leader(s) must put in place an effective management network, and ensure that this highly valuable resource is itself resourced appropriately.
Strategic planning and identifying the right resources will go a long way in ensuring you gather as much information as you possibly can about your professional service firm. It will guide you avoid the common pitfalls that often face new-coming business owners and therefore boost your business performance. You also want to have the right preparation in order to enjoy a smooth hassle free roll out process when starting your business.