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The Changing Role of Strategic Planners

  • ID: 40890
  • Report
  • January 1999
  • 71 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Strategic planning has evolved from a static, annual event to a dynamic, interactive process. The changing nature of strategic planning brings with it
changes in who is involved in the planning process and the roles they play, changes this report will examine.

KEY Findings Overview

Following are the key findings of this study, divided into four topical sections consistent with the study scope. The findings will be explored in detail throughout the remainder of the report.

Section 1: Roles

This primary focus area gave rise to several findings regarding the roles played by the planning department. These findings are at considerable variance with conventional wisdom regarding the roles of this department. Several partner companies suggest that the increasing rapidity and magnitude of the changes in their business environments drove changes in strategic planners’ roles.

1. The planning department has significant responsibility for both the process of planning and the content of plans.

2. The planning department serves as a conduit for introducing new thinking and
approaches into the organization and plays a strong advisory role with senior
management analogous to the traditional role of the controller.

3. The planning department has to balance the inherently conflicting roles of
advising senior management about issues in the plans it reviews and helping
develop the plans that are reviewed.

4. The planning department is a significant force for promoting and refining
analytical and logical skills in the managerial ranks of the organization.

5. The planning department plays a significant role in teaching the organization about planning processes and techniques.

6. The roles played by planning departments vary significantly depending on the
department’s position in the hierarchy of the organizational unit being served.
Influencing organizational culture and management style are key objectives.

Section 2: Location and Staffing

This focus area reveals innovative approaches to staffing the planning function
in the post-1970s era of downsized planning departments and lean organizations with minimal staff and headquarters personnel.

7. The use of “virtual teams” extends the reach of the planning department by
strengthening and guiding the involvement of other line and staff managers.

8. Planning departments derive their legitimacy and influence from the CEO.

9. The planning departments are staffed by personnel with a variety of line and staff backgrounds-from within the company and from outside, with and without related industry experience.

Section 3: Capabilities and Career Paths

This third focus area is connected to the preceding findings in the areas of staffing and planners’ roles because career paths and staffing approaches have much in common. The roles played by planners have a logical connection to needed capabilities. Best-practice company views relating to these areas are consistent with the practice of planning in terms of logic and approach.

10. Assignment to the planning department is a positive career move and serves as an important means of helping employees develop a corporate perspective.

11. The planning department employs a wide variety of planning and analytical
techniques in carrying out its responsibilities.

Section 4: Design and Implementation

This focus area takes on considerable significance because of the changes being
experienced by organizations today. Traditional designs of planning systems have questionable value when the use of strategy to determine a company’s choice of products, markets, and technology has become less effective. As products become ephemeral, markets become transitory, and technology becomes ever more dynamic, other concepts and related processes must develop. A mind-set of aggressive and continuous improvement underlies the findings in this focus area.

12. The planning department maintains prime responsibility for designing and
implementing the process, as well as for communicating the organization’s and
senior managers’ philosophy on planning.

13. The design of the planning process and the specification of outcomes is closely linked to the needs of the controller’s department.

14. The use of electronic documentation, updating, and communication is significant.

15. The planning department uses performance analyses and carefully designed and scheduled meetings to ensure that senior managers give planning the appropriate attention.

Benchmarking Model: The Four-Phase Methodology


Benchmarking is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help another organization improve performance. Companies participating in benchmarking activities report breakthrough improvements by directly and indirectly improving cost control, quality, cycle time, and profits.
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4 Sponsor and Partner Companies<BR><BR>A listing of the sponsor companies in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) companies that were benchmarked for their innovation and<BR>advancement in strategic planning.<BR><BR>6 Executive Summary<BR><BR>A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.<BR><BR>13 Key Findings<BR><BR>An in-depth look at the 15 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner companies.<BR><BR>65 Partner Company Profiles<BR><BR>Background information on the partner companies, as well as their innovative strategic planning processes.
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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown