Best Strategic Planning Software 2023
Strategic planning shouldn’t feel like an exercise that leadership does in a vacuum, isolated from the context of daily organizational activities—but it often does, and it makes it difficult for team leads, project managers, and everyone else in the organization to understand the vision for the business and get behind the associated objectives.
We know you want to avoid this for your teams and your business, and we’re here to help. 🤝 When agencies, dev shops, and other services businesses start to approach the strategic planning process differently – when they use it to truly align teams and business functions – it can be the most critical catalyst for organizational growth. But beyond having a good plan, you also need the right solution to help put that plan into motion.
Having the right strategic planning software AND the right integrated resource planning and forecasting solution on your side will make all the difference. Keep reading to see how Parallax helps put this all into motion.
Table of Contents
- Why Strategic Planning Is Critical for Business Success
- 5 Key Elements of Effective Strategic Planning
- What Is Strategic Planning Software?
- Top Strategic Planning Tools of 2023
- How to Make Strategic Planning Software Actionable
- Make Strategic Decisions With Confidence
Why Strategic Planning Is Critical for Business Success
The strategic planning process, at its very core, provides the time and space leaders need to look at the business with a shared perspective and from a growth lens. It allows them the opportunity to take a moment and level set… to understand the possibilities for the business, embrace the change needed to get to the next stage, and establish a confident path toward measurable, positive impact that can be championed by them and their teams.
Importantly, for the strategic planning process to work, everyone needs to be onboard with the output. And in order for everyone to get onboard, the prioritized objectives and key results set during the planning process need to be shared and understood across the organization. Strategic planning is only as effective as your ability to operationalize it. 💪 When services organizations get the strategic planning process right, they improve communication and decision-making, unlock forward-looking strategies, drive valuable action, and scale their magic.
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5 Key Elements of Effective Strategic Planning
1. Define your purpose
Before you even start the strategic planning process, we always recommend that you have clear alignment around the highest order reason for why you exist in the world and what you hope to achieve as an organization. Your beliefs shape your purpose, so take the time to align on this before you do anything else. Really, it’s that important.
Looking for guidance on how to figure out your purpose? We think Zeus Jones’ frameworks and Simon Sinek’s model are particularly helpful with this process.
2. Prep for Planning
Wait, there’s prep for planning? There sure is! Start the planning process by clearly defining what you’re trying to achieve.
We recommend outlining a simple project plan that accounts for all the different elements of the planning process, including reviewing the timeline, assigning a facilitator, identifying the strategic planning team, preparing a communication roll-out plan, and more. These “small” steps all help to ensure leadership alignment around actionable goals and initiatives going in and coming out of the planning session.
3. Understand Your Starting Point
Leaders and other key members in the planning process NEED to have a shared perspective on where they’re starting from in order to effectively plan and prioritize where they want to go. They also need to align on their strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats.
We recommend completing a Digital Services Maturity Assessment and/or a SWOT Analysis to help with this step. Both help to identify internal and external factors that could impact progress and success coming out of the planning process.
4. Identify and Prioritize Objectives
During the strategic planning process, you need to identify and prioritize high-level goals and objectives. This includes quick wins that can happen within weeks, monthly and quarterly objectives, and (of course) annual goals with measurable results. We recommend using an Objectives and Key Results or “OKR” framework to help set and track goals (lots more on OKRs here).
People will inevitably have differing opinions on how to prioritize objectives, so holding an ideation and prioritization workshop helps to streamline the process and reduce friction.
5. Communicate, Measure and Manage
Again, for any of the steps above to work, the goals and objectives decided upon need to be shared and understood with the entire organization. And yes, this is definitely easier said than done.
We recommend creating a framework for how you communicate, measure, and manage your strategic plan – one that’s consistent, reasonable, and valuable to your teams. The framework should account for the planning process, weekly operational best practices, and weekly habits and behaviors. More on aaaaall of this here.
What Is Strategic Planning Software?
Strategic planning software can help streamline the entire planning process (shocking, we know!). It helps you create a holistic plan by setting and aligning on objectives (that have measurable results), streamlining roles and responsibilities, enabling transparent communication about what the plan is to the rest of the team, and tracking how you’re progressing with the plan and what the business impact is of your efforts.
Importantly, the plan also needs to be actionable. This happens by integrating your planning software with a resource planning and forecasting solution (like Parallax), which provides capabilities like intelligent resource planning and active forecasting to help put plans in motion. Resource planning and forecasting solutions capture and serve up the data needed to drive growth, telling leaders where they are now and how they can get to where they want to be – all with way, way less friction.
Top Strategic Planning Tools of 2023
AchieveIt is a strategic planning software designed for organizations of all styles and sizes and across all industries. It helps eliminate manual processes so often associated with planning by automating update collection, report creation, insight generation, and more. It has features and functionalities that streamlined every stage of the planning and execution process.
Elate is a strategic planning platform that allows companies to bring their strategic plans to life in a visual format. The platform creates alignment across teams and allows leads to easily track performance all in one place. Instead of capturing plans in spreadsheets, Elate helps teams create simple, intuitive pans that can be easily disseminated amongst teams.
Envisio is an all-in-one strategic planning and performance management solution. It’s designed to make the planning, reporting, analyzing, and publishing process easier by providing interactive dashboards, automated reports, and more. Envisio helps leaders more easily align staff with strategy and helps to better manage stakeholder expectations.
Strategypoint is a platform built to help leaders plan and achieve their team’s vision in one place. It helps leaders with strategic planning, communication, and measurement; it helps managers better organize their initiatives and track their progress; it helps team members understand ‘the big picture’, and it helps stakeholders view strategy in action.
Cascade helps organizations plan, execute, measure, and adapt their strategy from its user-friendly platform. It connects strategy and financials to outcomes and execution, ensuring that teams are all working from the same view and toward the same objectives.
How to Make Strategic Planning Software Actionable
As we all know, a plan is only as good as its execution. Strategic planning software does a good job of creating the plan and tracking your progress, but it usually stops there. You also need the ability to create a shared view of the future so you can put those plans into action.
In other words, a view of the past informs the plan, but a view of the future shows you where the opportunities are to bring that plan to life. That’s what Parallax is for—to help you see the opportunity and act on it:
Parallax enables business intelligence
Resourcing and forecasting solutions like Parallax establish and reinforce organizational best practices, help optimize operations to maximize profitability and drive growth, and make the strategic planning process a whole lot easier by creating a shared perspective and delivering the important insights needed for a complete picture of performance.
Parallax provides meaningful integrations
The Parallax platform allows services organizations to easily put strategic plans into motion, all while continuing to use the tools they already have through deep integrations with CRM, project management, resource management, and accounting systems. This creates tighter alignment across the business for better visibility and decision-making without forcing teams to adopt new tools or “all-in-one” platforms.
Parallax delivers powerful reporting
To streamline the strategic planning process, leaders need to work with accurate project financials and resource management data, and they need it all in one place. Parallax gathers data like project actuals with planned hours and churns out powerful reports to help your teams deliver forecasted revenue and costs for projects. You can see when revenue will be earned, costs will be incurred, and margin realized, which all factor into important decisions for the future of the business.
Parallax unlocks new opportunities
Your business needs will always evolve, as will your planning process—and the software you use to inform both should be just as dynamic. At Parallax, we collaborate with you to understand your business needs today and in five years. Our solution is designed with the intricacies of services businesses in mind, and we’re here to help solve your problems and unlock new opportunities for your business, over and over.
Make Strategic Decisions With Confidence
We believe in the power of quality strategic planning at Parallax. We’ve seen digital services companies more easily (and quickly) scale when they start using simple methods and habits to inform their planning process—and we’ve seen how much easier this is to do when they’re using a tool like Parallax that’s designed to integrate with strategic planning software and make plans actionable.
Parallax removes the gut feelings related to strategic decision-making, curating a shared perspective based on reliable data and enabling leaders uncover and act on the best opportunities for the business.
We know how quickly the planning period pops up—but the strategic planning process cannot be ignored, and it certainly shouldn’t be deprioritized, no matter how busy and chaotic things may feel. The good news is that the right planning platform can help make strategic planning feel like a lot less work, and the right resourcing and forecasting solution can help put it all into motion. It can maybe even make it fun (really!). Our platform is designed to enable greater confidence as you make important decisions for the future of your business, and we’re always ready to chat: https://www.getparallax.com/book-a-demo.