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Process of Strategic Management and Levels at which Strategy Operates

The strategic management process means defining the organization’s strategy. It is also defined as the process by which managers make a choice of a set of strategies for the organization that will enable it to achieve better performance.

Strategic management is a continuous process that appraises the business and industries in which the organization is involved; appraises it’s competitors; and fixes goals to meet all the present and future competitor’s and then reassesses each strategy.

Strategic management process has following four steps:

  1. Environmental Scanning Environmental scanning refers to a process of collecting, scrutinizing and providing information for strategic purposes. It helps in analyzing the internal and external factors influencing an organization. After executing the environmental analysis process, management should evaluate it on a continuous basis and strive to improve it.
  2. Strategy Formulation Strategy formulation is the process of deciding best course of action for accomplishing organizational objectives and hence achieving organizational purpose. After conducting environment scanning, managers formulate corporate, business and functional strategies.
  3. Strategy Implementation- Strategy implementation implies making the strategy work as intended or putting the organization’s chosen strategy into action. Strategy implementation includes designing the organization’s structure, distributing resources, developing decision making process, and managing human resources.
  4. Strategy Evaluation- Strategy evaluation is the final step of strategy management process. The key strategy evaluation activities are: appraising internal and external factors that are the root of present strategies, measuring performance, and taking remedial / corrective actions. Evaluation makes sure that the organizational strategy as well as it’s implementation meets the organizational objectives.

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Components of Strategic Management Process

These components are steps that are carried, in chronological order, when creating a new strategic management plan. Present businesses that have already created a strategic management plan will revert to these steps as per the situation’s requirement, so as to make essential changes.

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                  Figure – Components of Strategic Management Process

Strategic management is an ongoing process. Therefore, it must be realized that each component interacts with the other components and that this interaction often happens in chorus.

The Three Levels of Strategy

Strategy is at the heart of business. All businesses have competition, and it is strategy that allows one business to rise above the others to become successful. Even if you have a great idea for a business, and you have a great product, you are unlikely to go anywhere without strategy.

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Many of the most successful business men and women throughout history have been great strategic thinkers, and that is no accident. If you wish to take your business to the top of the market as quickly as possible, it is going to be strategy that leads the way.

Of course, before you can get into the process of determining your own business strategies, you need to understand what the word ‘strategy’ really means in a business context. Does it involve long-term planning as to the general course of the business? Or is it related to the day-to-day operations and how they are designed in order to achieve success? Well, in practical application, strategy can refer to both of those things and more.

To help you understand strategy in business, this article is going to look at the three levels of strategy that are typically used by organizations. Only when all three of these levels are carefully considered will your business be able to get on the right path toward a prosperous future.

  1. Corporate Strategy

The first level of strategy in the business world is corporate strategy, which sits at the ‘top of the heap’. Before you dive into deeper, more specific strategy, you need to outline a general strategy that is going to oversee everything else that you do. At a most basic level, corporate strategy will outline exactly what businesses you are going to engage in, and how you plan to enter and win in those markets.

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It is easy to overlook this planning stage when getting started with a new business, but you will pay the price in the long run for skipping this step. It is crucially important that you have an overall corporate strategy in place, as that strategy is going to direct all of the smaller decisions that you make.

For some companies, outlining a corporate strategy will be a quick and easy process. For example, smaller businesses who are only going to enter one or two specific markets with their products or services are going to have an easy time identifying what it is that makes up the overall corporate strategy. If you are running an organization that bakes and sells cookies, for instance, you already know exactly what the corporate strategy is going to look like – you are going to sell as many cookies as possible.

However, for a larger business, things quickly become more complicated. Carrying that example forward to a larger company, imagine you run an organization that is going to sell cookies but is also going to sell equipment that is used while making cookies. Entering into the kitchen equipment market is a completely different challenge from selling the cookies themselves, so the complexity of your corporate strategy will need to rapidly increase. Before you get any farther into the strategic planning of your business, be sure you have your corporate strategy clearly defined.

  1. Business Strategy

It is best to think of this level of strategy as a ‘step down’ from the corporate strategy level. In other words, the strategies that you outline at this level are slightly more specific and they usually relate to the smaller businesses within the larger organization.

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Carrying over our previous example, you would be outlining separate strategies for selling cookies and selling cookie-making equipment at this level. You may be going after convenience stores and grocery stores to sell your cookies, while you may be looking at department stores and the internet to sell your equipment. Those are dramatically different strategies, so they will be broken out at this level.

Even in smaller businesses, it is a good idea to pay attention to the business strategy level so you can decide on how you are going to handle each various part of your operation. The strategy that you highlighted at the corporate level should be broad in scope, so now is the time to boil it down into smaller parts which will enable you to take action.

  1. Functional Strategy

This is the day-to-day strategy that is going to keep your organization moving in the right direction. Just as some businesses fail to plan from a top-level perspective, other businesses fail to plan at this bottom-level. This level of strategy is perhaps the most important of all, as without a daily plan you are going to be stuck in neutral while your competition continues to drive forward. As you work on putting together your functional strategies, remember to keep in mind your higher level goals so that everything is coordinated and working toward the same end.

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It is at this bottom-level of strategy where you should start to think about the various departments within your business and how they will work together to reach goals. Your marketing, finance, operations, IT and other departments will all have responsibilities to handle, and it is your job as an owner or manager to oversee them all to ensure satisfactory results in the end. Again, the success or failure of the entire organization will likely rest on the ability of your business to hit on its functional strategy goals regularly. As the saying goes, a journey of a million miles starts with a single step – take small steps in strategy on a daily basis and your overall corporate strategy will quickly become successful.

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