Top 5 Tips for Successful Strategic Planning

Does your financial institution have a strategic plan living on a shelf somewhere? Perhaps it’s in a beautiful, black three-ring binder just waiting for the next examiner to dust it off. You get the executive management team together with the board for a day and hammer out that strategic plan once every five years. All good, right?

Not exactly.

“Any institution that treats the creation of a strategic plan as just ‘checking the box’ is missing the point,” says PRI Partner, Mikelle Brady. “A strategic plan should guide leaders in creating a proactive and nimble financial institution.”

Here are five tips to creating and executing a strategic plan with resounding success:

1. Hire a professional strategic planning facilitator.

Everyone wants to have a voice and contribute to the strategic direction of your financial institution. With a facilitator, you get someone who asks probing questions, an expert in your industry, and someone to do all of that administrative grunt work like capturing ideas and writing the report. (P.S.  When you hire PRI, you get an experienced professional who knows the ins and outs of community financial institutions. Bonus!)

2. Involve the right people.

You certainly need at least two days with the executive management team and the board. But what about the next generation of leaders? Include staff members who are interested and vested in the future success of your institution. In the right environment, young leaders bring new insights that will help push the whole leadership team and board.

3. Evaluate and meet as a team regularly (at least quarterly).

Set up teams to execute on each strategic initiative. Often, it’s quite clear who should be on a certain committee; for example, the CFO should be involved in a strategic initiative to increase ROI.  However, at other times someone may be empowered to follow their passion, even if that initiative doesn’t directly relate to their job function. Either way, ensure that the teams are established and that they meet regularly. In addition, the entire strategic planning committee should meet quarterly to report on any roadblocks and to celebrate successes. Communicating is key as strategic initiatives often overlap.

4. Make changes as often as necessary.

A good strategic plan doesn’t get printed to sit on the shelf. In fact, it would be a waste of paper to print a good strategic plan because of how frequently it needs to be updated and revised. A good strategic plan is nimble and flexible. Our industry is rapidly changing; your strategic plan should reflect that. Don’t be afraid to turn left when the plan said to turn right.

5. Report to the board and listen for strategic variances.

Once a year the board should hear updates on each of the strategic initiatives. But let’s be clear, the board only wants to hear high level updates. Be transparent about hurdles and changes. And when the board wants to make a change, listen with intent. After all, everyone is working toward the same goal—a successful financial institution that’s an integral part of your community.

Following these steps allows any leader to ensure a thriving strategy; one that will take the financial institution to the next level. Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” What preparations are you making?

Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to strategic planning to propel growth and improve profitability

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