“A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” says Lee Bolman to underline the significance of strategy. Strategy is the main diverging factor between businesses and strategic management is the key element of success. Setting strategic objectives is the most crucial part of this process which we will talk about today. The content we will cover is mainly as follows:
We will start with the definition of strategic objectives. Then, we will move on to the purpose of strategic management. We will talk about what makes an effective strategic objective and give some examples. Finally, we will conclude our topic with a quick review. Now that you know the roadmap, let's get on with it.
Strategic objectives definition
Strategic objectives are milestones that align with your organizational strategy and help you achieve your company goals. These objectives are usually set quarterly for companies. They might be defined as what you want to achieve in this quarter. Objectives might belong to certain individuals, teams or departments depending on the strategy of your company.
While strategic objectives are the objectives that help you achieving a long-term goal, operational objectives cover a shorter time frame. In other words, they are the breakdowns of the strategic objectives to become assignable tasks for daily or weekly operations.
What is the purpose of strategic objectives?
The objectives mainly aim to unify the company towards a certain goal. They help you clear the ambiguity about the strategy for achieving goals. In addition, they guide your operational objectives to be conducted. To be more precise they help you mainly in four ways.
It helps you to create your strategic plan
The strategy is mainly the way to achieve a final goal. Your strategic plan will basically be the steps to take. Definition of these steps can be named as your strategic objectives. Each objective is a milestone that helps you to reach your destination.
It clears the ambiguity
Thanks to the objectives that are set, now you have a roadmap to reach your target. Let's say that you want to increase your brand awareness. How are you going to do that? What are the steps that you need to take? Well, objectives that you set will be answering those questions. Therefore, it will clear the ambiguity about the method that helps you achieve your final destination.
It helps you to set your operational objectives
Now that you know your strategic objectives that you need to follow for the quarter, you may now go in detail. The operational objectives that are set weekly or daily will be clearer after defining the quarterly milestones. Hence, defining strategic objectives not only clear the ambiguity about reaching the final goal, but also it clears the uncertainty about weekly or daily operations.
It unites your team to achieve a certain objective
The strategic and operational objectives for either your teams or your departments will be clearer now. In addition, there will be the transparency of information between the team members. So, everyone will know what they are doing and why they are doing it. This will help your employees to unite around a certain goal.
Alright, now you know what a strategic objective is and what is the purpose of it. However, how to set these objectives in an effective manner is another question to ask. This is what we will cover now.
What makes an effective strategic objective?
Well there are a few important keys to bear in mind when coming up with objectives. To begin with you need to be precise about the quantity and timeframe. This means that you need to define measurable objectives bound by a due date. In addition, you need to think about the industry you are working in and your company's strategy in this particular industry.
Strategic objective should have a due date
While you are creating your strategic objective, you should also think about by when you need to finish it. That actually defines the amount of energy that will be given to complete this task in a defined time. The strategic objectives are usually defined quarterly. However, you might plan them yearly and divide into pieces as well.
It should be quantifiable
Although this is not a must, it is much more effective to make your objectives quantifiable. This would clear the ambiguity even further and would help you to come up with your operational objectives. Quantifiable objectives are also actionable which means your employees could take an immediate action.
It should align with your industry
You should also bear in mind the industry you are operating in when setting the objectives. For instance, think about two industries FMCG and automotive. While, having a stock-out in FMCG sector would not be too costly, it would be huge for automotive sector. Therefore, the company strategies and related objectives should be set bearing in mind the industrial facts.
It should align with your strategy
In addition to your industry, you should also think about your strategy in the developing process of the objectives. Different companies in the same sector might be focusing on different aspects. For instance, one company might be working upon increasing the service level of all products. On the other hand, another one in the same sector might try to be decreasing the costs regarding stock-outs. That concludes in different strategies and different objectives as a result.
Now that you know how to create your objectives, let's see some examples to give you a better understanding of the topic.
Strategic objectives example
We may analyze the subject in various ways and talk about infinite number of examples. However, let's divide the objectives in terms of departments and see some examples related to each department.
This objective is really crucial for all companies. No matter which industry the company operates, it should include this objective in its strategical plan. The more known the company is, the more it sells and in turn it gains more profits.
Offering a better user experience became incredibly crucial in the last decade. Especially for the companies operating just in digital platforms, this is an important objective to keep in mind.
Increasing the user base is another objective that a company might include in its strategy. This might be in terms of gaining old customers that used to use the company's product or gaining new customers.
Retention rate is a metric again important for especially fully digital companies that have apps. This metric follows the percentage of users that continue using your app, a particular time after downloading.
This objective is pretty self-explaining. Increasing the revenues might be in terms of increasing the profit margin and therefore pricing.
This might be a good objective example for a startup. The startups need huge amount of budget for growing and finance may enable it through different channels such as angel investors.
Supply Chain Objectives
This particular example is a good strategic objective. Let's think about a company who wants to increase its sales volume. In order to do that, the company will also need to expand the distribution volume and this objective would be assigned to the supply chain department.
The company might want to increase on time delivery rate after some complaints from the customers. Therefore, now the company wants to increase the customer satisfaction via an objective stated above.
The company also might aim to increase the gross margin of the products by decreasing the inventory holding costs. This certain strategy might mean lowering the service level by holding less inventory. However, since that is the company's strategy, then this objective should align with it such as this particular example.
Think about the time of Wikileaks. I guess most of the companies adopted an information security strategy afterwards. Companies might integrate information security issues to its agenda when there is an increased risk.
A company might aim to give the most correct results as a strategy. Therefore, it needs to have improved quality of data for which the IT department will work upon.
This certain objective might be also assigned to sales department. If the metrics that should be followed are in terms of number of customers, then sales would be the right department to achieve the final goal.
This is an objective that every company wants to achieve. Hence, it is always included in the strategy to achieve a bigger market share and gain more profit.
Every company wants to promote its culture and values so that the employee knows in which company he/she is working in. It actually increases the satisfaction of the employee, since they were hired according to these values in the first place.
One company might include developing a new process for recruitment as a strategy. Think about the example of a highly growing company. This might result in a huge increase in the number of applications. Therefore, current process might not be enough and the company may want to develop a new one.
Not just adding new members to the team is the objective of the HR department. They are also responsible for the internal satisfaction. Therefore, improving it might be included in the strategy for HR.
Well, let's say that a startup was just found and wants to increase its brand awareness. After recruiting the HR staff, now it should look for a digital marketing team which would become an objective for the newly recruited employees.
To sum up
Let's summarize what we did together. We started with the definition of the strategic objectives. Then, we talked about the aim for creating the strategic objectives. They are basically created because they unify the employees towards a certain goal. It helps you create your strategic plan while making certain the operational objectives. Moreover, we talked about what makes an effective strategic objective. There are mainly four things to think upon while coming up with objectives which are quantifiability, time horizon, the industry and the strategy. Lastly, after clearing the subject we talked about some examples of the objectives in different departments such as IT, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Supply Chain and HR.