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What is a Long Range Planning?

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Long-range planning is sometimes also called "strategic planning".  It is something that should be done annually, whether your business is doing well or not so well.  It is an opportunity for you to measure your track-record against your goals and your business operations against those of your competition. 

Long-range planning is doing more than just setting a goal at some distant time in the future ("In ten years I'd like to have 3% of the market share in organic crops in the upper midwest"); it is also a roadmap on how you will get there. 

How nice it would be if today's business environment were stable, where one could quite easily predict future conditions.  Unfortunately, the pace of change in business and technology has increased relentlessly this decade.  Businesses which can anticipate and adapt to changes early remain successful, while those that do not or will not foresee and prepare for and adapt to changes see their sales and market shares dwindle. 

Our experience has shown us that there are several hurdles in the race to business success.  Some of them include: 

  • One major hurdle in the race to business success is the lack of effective long-range planning.  An annual review is essential.  If plans are only written when funding is needed or to create eyewash for management, then there is no real plan. 
  • Another hurdle is in writing a plan and then ignoring it in the process of daily activities. If you are not following your plan now, it is high time to review and rewrite the plan.  
  • A third hurdle is in the focus of the plans.  Businesses that concentrate their efforts on what their key competitors did yesterday and are doing today will always be chasing after their key competitors.  A plan that takes three years to bring your company up to today's level of Samuel Adams Brewing Company will still be three years behind Samuel Adams!

Planning is not just writing a concept, it is reviewing the market, the competition, the customers, and trends.  A business needs to identify how the market will change in the next few years and where the business desires to be in that market. One key problem with trying to anticipate changes in the competitive environment is looking at the future through a set of narrowly focused eyes.  The future is important.  We will have to live there – not in the past.  The rules of the marketplace have changed and so must we adapt plans to meet the change that research has identified. 

Good business planning requires you to look into the future – to determine what your competitors, customers, and supers are going to do.  For industries with long development cycles and costly retooling efforts, planning needs to look several years into the future.  In more dynamic arenas, planning may only be 6-12 months into the future. 

In our offices hangs a quote from the Performance Benchmarking Service of the Industrial Technology Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan: 

If you don't know where you are, you don't know where you are going.
If you don't know where you are going, you aren't likely to get there.
If you don't get there, you die.

Planning requires knowing where you are and where you want to go.  Proper, continual planning can maximize the confidence in the decision-making process. 

This is where IRIS Enterprises can help you.  We have over 25 years experience in long-range planning.  We know how to help you to conceptualize, write and update your long-range plans so you can realize your goals.  Look to us to obtain the essential information and provide an unbiased analysis that can help you formulate your long-range plan or identify necessary changes in existing plans. 

IRIS Enterprises is a consulting business for market research, market analysis, long-range planning, and their applications (Webpage creation, process re-engineering, business planning, and market planning) in North America and Germany. We can obtain and analyze information you need to stay ahead in a competitive marketplace -- or to gain the competitive advantage. 

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