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The importance of a strategic management office

By Pau Blasi — March 5, 2015

Operating—and surviving—without a strategy is a luxury that few can afford

In the corporate world, nearly everyone has a general idea—although not always accurate—of what a strategy means. A small number of executives create a strategic plan at some point in their professional career, and even fewer review the plan upon executing it in order to verify whether the proposed objectives have been reached.

A number of obstacles arise in the implementation of a strategic plan in a company. Some consider it a luxury because they already have enough on their plates as they put out the fires that appear on a day-to-day basis. However, the opposite is true: Operating—and surviving—without the guidance of a strategy is a luxury that few can afford. Others prepare strategic plans, but never obtain the desired results.

This can be due to a resistance to change on behalf of employees on different levels within the organizational chart, or an incorrect concept of what the strategy is and how it should be implemented in the company.

What is a strategy? It is a structured statement of specific objectives. This statement is derived from the company’s vision, but it goes a step further. A strategy must fulfill these conditions:

  • It must be concrete: Detailed, quantified, and with a very precise definition
  • It must be well-structured: All the objectives must be interrelated, and it must contain the organization’s vision and values
  • It must be complete: It should not omit any essential areas of the company
  • It must be shared: It must be known and unequivocally understood by the entire team

However, even with a well-designed strategy, a very common error is to implement it incorrectly.

This is where the strategic management office comes in. It consists of a team, not necessarily big, that is led by a strong person (usually from the finance department), with members from the company’s other functional and business areas. It must always be positioned at a high level within the organizational chart, close to executive management. The task of this office is to connect the strategy with operations by translating the objectives of the plan into specific tasks and processes.

The duties of the strategic management office are:

  • To coordinate the process of developing and reviewing the strategy
  • To translate it into objectives, goals, and projects
  • To inform the entire company of it

The digital revolution has changed the paradigm, and this change will continue to accentuate itself in the upcoming years

A few years ago, strategic plans were defined for five-year periods. This shifted to three years, and there are currently even shorter time frames. This means that annual or quarterly reviews are now done monthly. It is highly recommended for management teams to spend at least one hour each month in meetings aimed at discussing and updating the strategy. The more the better.

This acceleration occurs in parallel to the acceleration of technological innovations. New technologies are increasingly affecting the operational aspects of companies. Not only are they opening new markets, but they are also altering internal processes such as work methods (working remotely, using electronic devices, paper consumption, storing and processing information, etc.) and relationships with providers. The digital revolution has changed the paradigm, and this change will continue to accentuate itself in the upcoming years.

Shifting from a traditional focus to a strategic one involves overcoming certain resistance and requires in-depth knowledge of the new environment. Nae, which is located at the junction between technological development, the practical application of this technology, and the business world, has a privileged position that allows it to help companies guide this transformation.

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