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6 Steps for Creating a Strategic Plan

Involve the right people and be clear how all work contributes to corporate strategic goals

All corporate functions have been working on their strategic plans in recent months. Corporate real estate (CRE) teams need to make sure that they can keep the lights on – quite literally – as well continue to work on activities outside of their traditional remit, looking beyond cost and space reduction priorities to find ways to support company strategy.

Six Steps

These six steps will help.

  1. Lay the groundwork: Start with a communications strategy that sets expectations for the planning process. Determine who will need to take part and what their responsibilities will be, or what you’ll need from them.

    Typically, the head of CRE will need to define and set the objectives and action plans, real estate staff will need to build project proposals and estimate resource requirements, and portfolio planners and project leads should conduct planning analyses and provide process- and activity-level input.

    You should also note stakeholders from outside Real Estate that you’ll need to work with: for instance, the CEO or executive committee will need to approve the strategy and key investments, and Real Estate will need to ask business unit leaders for their input on business strategy and on CRE’s current performance. Real Estate should also set a timeline for the strategic planning process and communicate expected outcomes to all participants.

    Keep in mind that:

    • Strategic plans can easily be scuppered by short-term priorities, so you’ll need to design a plan that you can actively manage and keep on track throughout the year.

  2. Understand business goals and how they relate to CRE: Hold conversations with relevant executives and other senior managers to understand the goals that CRE’s strategy should support. Ask targeted questions in their own terms (based on the goals they have for their role) to engage with these stakeholders.

    Complete this information gathering process by assessing external forces (such as economic, regulatory, and technological factors) to identify trends that could affect the company and Real Estate.

    Keep in mind that:

    • Business partners may not completely understand their real estate needs or the full extent of how the function can support them, so make sure to concentrate on their plans rather than asking them to consider specific real estate options at this point because they may not be aware of how their needs connect to the support Real Estate can offer.

  3. Identify improvement areas: Next, you’ll need to determine where your function is starting from. Evaluate how effective the function’s key capabilities are; then, ask business partners for their perspective for a complete view of your strengths and weaknesses.

    Keep in mind that:

    • It’s important to look at the impact Real Estate is making on corporate goals, rather than just its performance on its own operational metrics.

  4. Determine how to achieve real estate objectives: Translate business goals into CRE objectives, using your understanding of the function’s improvement areas. Then, develop projects to meet these objectives. You’ll also need to identify metrics to measure your progress, decide what resources you’ll need to put your plan into action, and assess the risks that could affect or invalidate your plan.

    Keep in mind that:

    • The end goal here is to have a prioritized list of strategic initiatives, plus metrics to measure them.

    • You shouldn’t force-fit initiatives that don’t align with key objectives.

  5. Communicate your plan to stakeholders: Work out how you will communicate the strategic plan to different stakeholder groups, tailoring your message to each. Get the plan reviewed and approved by your CEO or executive committee, then communicate it to business unit leaders and staff.

    Keep in mind that:

    • You’ll need to deliver a consistent message across the firm to ensure employees don’t receive conflicting information.

  6. Monitor your progress: As you implement the plan, you’ll need to measure your progress against the objectives you’ve defined. Make sure to get feedback from key stakeholders along the way; you should also document lessons learned and make adjustments as you go on.

    Keep in mind that:

    • Business partners’ risk aversion could derail the execution of your strategy.



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