AMU/APU BUSN 620 – STRATEGIC PLAN ASSIGNMENT

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THINKING ABOUT STRATEGY
As you prepare to build a strategic plan, here are some ideas that may guide your
thinking. This is a Strategic Plan written by an MBA student. It is not a term paper. Rather than
discussing issues, your task is to develop a clear plan stretching over the next 3 to 5 years

that will help the organization improve itself. These improvements should be clear business
accomplishments. These include profits, revenue, market share and company image. When you
read the case, figure out what is going wrong. Pick out what the main issues are. As a sharp
business investigator, you will want to do some background research. See if the case is accurate.
You should get to know the company much better than relying on the material in the case
permits.
A strategic plan needs to have annual goals. The reader will want to know where the
company will be in one year, two years, etc. So, if you plan to achieve a 5% increase in market
share over 5 years, then a 1% increase each year is reasonable. Keep all annual goals measurable.
Writing a Plan that says “improve sales” is not measurable. Improving by $5,000,000 in year one
or by 3% in year two is measurable.
The best way to start is to identify five or six key areas and state where the company is
right now. For example, sales are at $xxxx and market share is at xxxx%. Then identify where
you want the company to be in five years. So, if the market share is 10% now, perhaps 14% is
five years would be the target. Your sketch would be framed this way:
Company Today Company Five Years From Now
Market share
Sales
Etc.
Then identify how to reach your five-year targets. For example, an increase of market share
might require more advertising, more sales force and product enhancements. Assume that the
reader is an executive at the organization. You need to summarize the current situation at the
company, but do not overdo it. Senior executives know what their problems are and do not want

to read ten pages about how poorly the company has done. Besides, your major task is to set a
course for improvement.
A good strategic plan looks at and grows out of the “bigger picture” – going beyond a
case and looking at the industry and the company. If you pick Coca Cola, for example, their
annual report and current financials are readily available on the Internet. How profitable are
they? What does the CEO say in the annual report about their future goals. This background
research is important in figuring out where they should be going in the future. The strategic
framework is critical – the goals over the next few years. But, you also have to show how the
organization will get there. These are the tactics necessary for success. For example, if the
company is going to build sales, will it need additional sales people? Marketing? Etc.
If you use another source, identify the source. Do not highlight and copy parts of articles
from the Internet and show them as part of your plan. What typically happens is that the
sentences you borrow do not fit the rest of the paper in content, structure or style. A good
strategic plan deals with the overall progress and success of the business. It would be of interest
to executives and shareholders. A Strategic Plan is not merely an attempt to fix a single problem.
For example, gasoline prices are rising. If you are looking at an airline company, this would only
be a tactical issue. It should be seen in the context of profitability and where the company stands
in terms of fixed and variable expenses.
A good strategic plan gives detail not generalities. For example, Jet Blue should “be
profitable.” OK, no one will argue against that. But, how profitable? Be specific. Look at
their annual report or Yahoo Finance for details. How much did they make last year? How much
will they make next year under your plan. Good papers are convincing and detailed.
You also need to look over the case alternatives and select your topic early. Do not wait

until the later weeks. Pick a topic and begin doing the background work needed for a
successful plan.
A good strategic Plan is also professionally put together. It has been proofread (not just
Spell Checked). Imagine a senior executive reading a paper that identifies the future direction of
the company that has grammatical errors. The author’s credibility would be shattered. When
Patton went to Berlin, he set checkpoints along the way. Of course, he needed supplies and
equipment and so on. These are the tactical elements that make your strategic plan achievable.
Also, think in terms of presenting this to senior management. What questions would they have
and how will you answer them? Naturally, you should be ready with good answers!
Feel free to email me with any questions.

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