Implementing a business strategy correctly can be a vital component for success. There are several steps that should be considered prior to developing and implementation of the business strategy plan. The purpose of this paper is to outline the steps necessary to effectively implement a business strategy.
An effective business strategy can literally make or break a business. Business strategies that are implemented correctly and adopted by the organization as a whole can effect positive change and improve a corporations overall profitability and productivity. A business strategy that is poorly implemented however, can lead to confusion, chaos and business failure. Thus it is vital that top managers consider the critical steps necessary to foster effective implementation.
There are several basic foundational steps required to implement a successful business strategy regardless of the nature of business an organization engages in. Whether a business is e-commerce-based or traditionally focused for example, maintaining optimal customer service and satisfaction typically are critical elements of successful implementation.
The success of an implementation can thus be measured in part by how well a business strategy satisfies the needs of new and returning customers over an extended period of time. In addition to satisfaction, management and employee buy in are critical elements of successful implementation. These ideas are discussed below.
Business Strategy Basics
As with anything, implementing a successful business strategy requires planning and communication. Without adequate planning, a business strategy is bound to fail in one way or another. Planning starts from the moment a new business strategy is conceptualized by top management teams. From the moment a plan is developed, methods and objectives regarding implementation and successful monitoring of the strategic goals of the plan should be considered by members of management (Cappelli, 2001).
Managers must plan out each phase of implementation, long before implementation is begun, in order to ensure the successful implementation and operation of a successful strategy. Thus managers should allocate a sufficient body of time for the planning stage of implementation.
The first 'official' step toward successful strategy implementation is laying the groundwork or foundation for strategy implementation (Birnbaum, 2004). Business strategy implementation requires a commitment from management staff to carry out the details of the plan, so prior to implementation it is vital that commitment is acquired from all members of the management staff in order to ensure the success of the plan (Birnbaum, 2004). This is what is meant by laying the groundwork or foundation for successful implementation. When management buy-in is achieved, a strategic business plan has a strong base from which it can grow and flourish.
Management staff at all levels of the organization, from the highest to the lowest, must be aware of the business strategy, its key components, goals and objectives, and the intended effects the business strategy is meant to have on the operations of the organization as a whole (Cappelli, 1999). Managers who are aware of the impacts of an intended implementation are much more likely to go along with and support the process of implementation that those that are 'left in the dark' (Cappelli, 1999: 131). In addition, well informed managers can obtain buy in and implementation assistance from key employees, which will also be a critical step in the implementation process.
In addition, in the pre-planning stages it may be necessary to define which staff members among management will be involved in executing key areas of the plan and encourage their understanding of any important plan elements or concepts that need be acquired (Birnbaum, 2004). There may be involvement from top level and middle level managers at all levels of the implementation process. It is the decision of top level executives to determine which managers are best suited to handle each aspect of the implementation process.
In addition to soliciting commitment from managers and top executives during the planning stages prior to implementation it is vital to gain input from employees and involve them in the planning process so they may have the opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues that might arise as a result of the business strategy being implemented or changes that might arise from it (Birnbaum, 2004).
Another critical step toward successful implementation of a business strategy is development of working corporate objectives related to implementation and future business strategy analysis. Creation of a list of implementation objectives will also help ensure that the working conditions and business atmosphere are ripe for implementation (Birnbaum, 2004). Objectives might be based around overall corporate objectives to promote continued organizational success and personal growth and development.
The objectives that are developed should be tangible and focused, directly related to implementing a plan and achieving the desired results. The business should be able to measure whether or not the specific objectives outlined are obtained during each phase of the implementation process.
Another important element of successful business strategy development and implementation is communication. In fact, communication is perhaps the most vital element of implementation. It is vital that a business strategy and all elements of a business plan are communicated to individuals who might be impacted by or involved with the implementation (Birnbaum, 2004). This will ensure that employees are able to help administer and implement the strategy alongside key management personnel, and that confusion does not arise regarding a strategic plan.
Communication should occur regularly between management and employees working on implementation objectives. Whenever a breakdown in communication occurs, all members of an implementation team should pause for a moment and determine what action steps are necessary to re-establish the lines of communication and continue on the path to implementation. Adequate communication will help alleviate any misunderstandings or problems that might result during the implementation process, and assure that all members of an implementation team are on track and working toward the same business goals (Cappelli, 2001).
To implement a business strategy it is vital that a business break down business strategic objectives into incremental goals that can be delivered within a specified time frame (Tactica, 2000). These goals can be used to monitor strategic initiatives and ensure that objectives are attained on track. The strategic plan and goals established should involve interactive relationships between business partners and a breakdown of tactical objectives and business deliverables for each area of a business that will be affected or impacted by a business strategy (Tactica, 2000).
Successful implementation of a business strategy requires that an organization consider the following factors: (1) key factors related to the successes and failures of other businesses in similar industries, (2) identification of the capabilities and limitations of competitors in the same industry and in similar industries, (3) identification of societal and business changes in the near future and (4) identification of a company's strengths and weaknesses in regard to the competition (Yourdon, 2001).
For a business strategy to be successfully implemented a company must be willing to determine what their current state of productivity is, what there current strategy and assumption are with regard to the business environment, and what changes need to be made to improve overall functioning in the industry (Yourdon, 2001). Once these factors have been successfully identified, only then can a new business strategy be effectively developed and implemented in a timely fashion (Yourdon, 2001).
The manner in which implementation will be handled may also depend on the type of business. In most traditional organizations for example, implementation can typically be carried out by well trained and well informed middle managers; however in an e-business environment, senior management might need to be involved due to IT engineering and architectural requirements and "time to market" pressures inherent in an e-business environment that may require a shift in business prioritization (Yourdon, 2001:10).
Successful business strategy implementation also requires that a company connect with the customer, and find ways to…