by: M Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant, CSSP, Inc.
With the slowing of business, lower sales, fewer orders, lower profits, the question arises: What can we cut or postpone so we can make it through these tough times?
Too often, the opposite question is not asked: What should we not cut, so we can make it through these tough times? We suggest that strategic planning definitely be one of those activities that you not cut.
The reasons for continuing to plan are multiple. First thing to do is to be looking ahead to see where the problems lie. You need to use your experience and perspective to peer into the future, so you will be prepared for any of the possible scenarios which may play out.
You should be building on the possible scenarios so you will be prepared if things get even worse. What actions should your company be taking to lower costs, to conserve cash, to increase profitability as much as possible given the conditions? And, you should be looking ahead enough to start planning for the recovery. What does the company need to do to be ready when the economy starts to improve? How can we be ready for the turnaround when it comes? What do we need to do now so we can take advantage in the marketplace as things improve?
All of these considerations should be a part of your ongoing strategic planning. You should be looking at both the downside and the upside scenarios to be ready for what lies ahead. Without a formal strategic plan, you well could be caught unready for whatever lies ahead, and that could have serious consequences for the company in the future. A well-thought-through strategic plan is vital to future successes, and saving a few dollars now by not doing strategic planning may cost you many times that investment in the future, whether the economy and business slow further or turn around and start back up.