Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Strategic Plan

You've worked hard to create a dynamite strategic plan. You even developed a communication strategy to ensure your entire organization knows the plan and their part in its success. Now you can relax, right? Not so fast! Unfortunately, it's all too common for organizations to write a dynamite strategic plan and then let it fall by the wayside as day-to-day events act to shift focus. Don't let that happen! The last step in the planning process is tracking, assessment and follow-up.

Many leaders get sidetracked by everyday challenges. A leader must handle the multiple issues that arise, while always keeping the plan in mind. If you have developed an effective strategic plan, you will be able to focus the majority of your, and more importantly your subordinates, day-to-day activities. Don't let the everyday activities in your organization's life bury the plan. After you've successfully communicated your strategic plan to the organization, you need action plans for the goals, a method of tracking goals and assessing success, and you'll need to constantly follow-up.

The Action Plan

Your strategic plan contains your goals. Each goal must have an action plan. The goal objectives are the first part of that plan, but it needs to go beyond that. Though the action plans are specific to the goals, I offer the following general suggestions:

1. Assign a champion to each goal and make them responsible for the action plan.

2. Don't make the action plan overly elaborate. Simple is usually better. Don't fall into the trap of spending a great amount of time creating and perfecting the action plan and never accomplishing the goal. That isn't to say the plan should not be sufficiently detailed. For instance, if the goal is "decrease order and ship time by 10%", and the objectives are "create an improved pick system and streamline the packaging process," you will obviously need to do some quantitative study to determine the process flow, queue time, etc.

Flow Through Queue Management

An efficient and well-managed queue is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways a business can increase operational efficiencies and squeeze additional revenues from existing real estate. Queue management - the process of efficiently moving customers in, through, and out of waiting lines - is quickly becoming an essential element of best practices in many industries because of its proven ability to reduce customer walk-aways, increase revenues per square foot, stimulate impulse sales, and enhance the overall customer experience.

Linear Vs. Virtual Queuing

There are 2 basic queuing principles that are commonly used throughout business. Linear queuing consists of customers physically standing in lines formed with stanchions, usually retractable belt posts. Utilizing the "first come, first served" service rule, linear queues can feature multiple lines such as is typically found in grocery stores or single-lines such as is found in most banks and financial institutions. Linear queuing strategies ensure the fastest possible service by reducing the time wasted between each customer being served, thus are traditionally used where service processes are fairly short.

To enhance the effectiveness of linear queuing solutions, an electronic queuing system can be used to further improve customer flow. Some electronic queuing systems have proven to increase service efficiency by as much as 35%, thus decreasing average wait times. Additionally, powerful media capabilities available with some systems keep customers informed and entertained, reducing perceived wait times and further enhancing the customer experience.