A strategy document can be defined as a comprehensive written plan that articulates an organisation’s strategic direction over a specified period. It serves as a roadmap guiding the organisation towards achieving its long-term goals and objectives. This document is crucial for aligning the efforts of different departments and ensuring that every action taken is in line with the overarching vision and mission of the company.

This article provides a detailed overview of the stages involved in drafting, developing, approving, implementing, and monitoring the results of a strategy document, using the fictional ABC Bank as a practical example.

Happy chair of the board holds the strategy document.

Drafting the Strategy Document

The Initial Phase

Drafting a strategy document is the foundational step in shaping an organisation’s future. It begins with a clear understanding of the company’s current position, goals, and the environment in which it operates. This phase involves extensive research, including market analysis, competitor review, and internal audits. For ABC Bank, a regional high street lender, the drafting stage entails assessing their current standing in POS lending, credit cards, and SMB lending sectors.

Involving Stakeholders

Involvement of key stakeholders is crucial at this stage. For ABC Bank, this means engaging with department heads of POS lending, credit card services, and SMB lending divisions. By incorporating insights from these leaders, the bank ensures that the drafted strategy is comprehensive and acknowledges the nuances of each business line.

Developing the Strategy

Detailing the Plan

The development phase is where the strategy gains depth and detail. This includes setting specific objectives, identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), and outlining the resources required. For ABC Bank, this could involve setting targets for market share growth in credit card issuance or introducing new technology to enhance POS lending services.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation

A critical part of this phase is risk assessment. ABC Bank, for example, must consider the regulatory risks involved in expanding its SMB lending services, and develop strategies to mitigate these risks. This could include enhancing compliance protocols or investing in risk management technologies.

Approving the Strategy

Board Involvement

The approval phase is typically the domain of the organisation’s board of directors. For ABC Bank, the strategy document, having been thoroughly drafted and developed, is presented to the board. This presentation must articulate the strategy’s alignment with the bank’s overall vision and how it will drive growth.

Seeking Feedback and Finalisation

The board may request revisions or provide feedback. For ABC Bank, this could mean adjusting their SMB lending strategy to better align with market conditions. Once these adjustments are made, the board gives its final approval, marking a significant milestone in the strategic journey.

Implementing the Strategy

Action and Execution

Implementation is where the strategy is put into action. It requires meticulous planning and coordination across various departments. For ABC Bank, this means aligning the POS lending, credit card, and SMB lending departments with the new strategic objectives, ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction.

Communication and Training

Effective communication is key during this stage. ABC Bank must ensure that all employees understand the strategy and their role in its execution. This could involve training programs, especially if new technologies or processes are being introduced in the SMB lending services.

Monitoring and Reviewing Results

Continuous Assessment

Monitoring the results is an ongoing process. It involves regularly reviewing the progress against the set KPIs and making adjustments as needed. For ABC Bank, this could mean monthly reviews of credit card application rates or customer feedback on POS lending services.

Adapting to Change

The business environment is dynamic, and strategies may need to evolve. ABC Bank must be prepared to adapt its strategy in response to changes in the market or internal challenges. Regular strategy reviews ensure the bank remains on track to achieving its long-term goals.

Structuring the Strategy Document

Fundamental Components

The structure of a strategy document is crucial for its clarity and effectiveness. It typically consists of several key components. For ABC Bank, the structure would encompass an executive summary, market analysis, strategic objectives, action plans, and performance monitoring mechanisms. Each of these components serves a specific purpose and collectively forms the backbone of the strategy.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is an overview of the strategy, capturing its essence in a concise manner. For ABC Bank, it would outline its vision for growth in POS lending, credit cards, and SMB lending, highlighting key objectives and the strategic approach.

Market Analysis

This section provides an in-depth look at the market environment. For ABC Bank, it would include analysis of the financial services sector, competitive landscape, customer demographics, and regulatory changes affecting POS lending, credit cards, and SMB lending.

Strategic Objectives

The heart of the document, this section details the specific goals and objectives. For ABC Bank, objectives could range from increasing market share in the credit card sector to enhancing digital platforms for SMB lending. Each objective should be clear, measurable, and time-bound.

SWOT Analysis

In the SWOT Analysis section, detail your organisation’s Strengths (e.g., a strong brand reputation for a long-established insurance company), Weaknesses (perhaps a lack of digital innovation in a traditional banking institution), Opportunities (such as new markets for an asset management firm), and Threats (like the increasing cybersecurity risks facing financial institutions).

Action Plans

Here, the document outlines the steps to achieve the set objectives. For ABC Bank, action plans may involve launching new credit card products, investing in technology to support POS transactions, or marketing strategies to attract SMB clients. This section should clearly assign responsibilities and timelines.

Performance Monitoring

To ensure the strategy stays on track, this section defines the key performance indicators (KPIs) and outlines the process for monitoring and reviewing progress. For ABC Bank, KPIs might include the number of new credit card sign-ups, customer satisfaction ratings in POS lending, or loan volume in SMB lending.

Risk Management and Compliance

Given the critical importance of risk management in the financial sector, this section is dedicated to identifying potential risks and outlining strategies to mitigate them. For ABC Bank, risks could range from credit risk in lending to cybersecurity threats.

Financial Projections and Budgeting

This part of the document deals with the financial aspects of the strategy, including budgeting, revenue projections, and investment requirements. For ABC Bank, it would detail the financial implications of expanding its credit card offerings or upgrading its SMB lending platform.

Conclusion and Next Steps

The document concludes with a summary of the strategy and an outline of immediate and long-term actions. For ABC Bank, this would reiterate the bank’s commitment to its strategic goals and the steps to be taken following the board’s approval.

Appendices

Additional supporting information, such as detailed market research data, historical financial performance, and biographies of key team members, can be included in appendices.

The structure of the strategy document serves as a comprehensive guide, not just for the leadership and employees of ABC Bank but also for external stakeholders, providing a clear and transparent roadmap for the bank’s strategic journey.

Strategy document journey

The journey from drafting to monitoring a strategy document is intricate and requires a structured approach. By following these steps, organisations like ABC Bank can navigate the complexities of the business world, ensuring they remain competitive and achieve their strategic objectives. This process is not just about planning but about creating a living, evolving roadmap that guides a company through the challenges and opportunities of the business landscape.