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Appalachian Trail Conservancy Strategic Business Plan Analysis

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Introduction

Strategic plans are aimed at detailing out the actual pathway that an organization aims at to achieve its goals. They detail out the actual goals that the organizations aims for and the different means through which they find the goals achievable. Strategic plans also consider any other aspects that may prove sensible during the planning exercise and could help the organization in making their targets more productive. Through this development, an Organization’s plans towards competition, increasing sales, managing the market aspects of demand and supply, managing employees among many other aspects come to play.

Through the strategic plan, an organization is in position to measure the progress registered and ensure that it helps the organization achieve its ultimate purpose. The process also helps the organization understand the places to target their resources most and which areas to target most for more returns. Through the strategic plans, the employees remain focused and directed towards a common goal that will ensure the organization reaches the required levels of achievement. The changing environments also are provided for in strategic plans and these help mangers to understand and provide for contingency aspects as a way to ensure that these changes do not affect the organization much.

It is through an effective strategic plan that an organization not only understands where it is, where it wants to go but also how it will reach its targets. It is therefore a vital element of any organization and requires careful management. The details of this paper deal with detailing out an analysis of a strategic plan drawn for a public organization Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The major goal of the plan is effective stewardship. The analysis will base on a set of questions that will aim at ensuring the plan will prove effective and identifying the weaknesses, that it holds. The paper also discusses in details the contents of the plan and the different ways through which they can be improved to ensure success in the business.

For the effectiveness of any strategic plan, there is dire need for its simplicity both in language and the other contents for easy understanding and application by all members constituent to the plan. The plan developed in the attachment is understandable and easy to apply for any person working within the company. The breakdown of the plan into different goals and each goal related with its expected outcomes ensures that the people know what is expected out of the whole plan and work towards ensuring that the outcomes are achieved. In case of any setbacks, the plan implementers will easily drive back on line with consideration of the outcome as the yardstick for measuring progress.

The plan is meant for the management of the company that provides the stewardship aspects to it. The goals of the plan cover aspects that need management efforts to resolve or enforce if positive results are to be obtained. Through the management’s understanding of the needs of the company and the needs in ensuring that the goals of the company are achieved, the other employees easily work well following the directions of the management. Management refers to the different levels of personnel in the company ranging from the line managers to the top managers. The line managers are the bottom most employees that provide the role of handling the work from the least level. They follow the directives of the middle managers that also follow the top managers of the company. All these members are targeted by the plan and are its audience.

The strategic plan is written in an understandable language with explained abbreviations and no professional jargons included. The plan is clear and the language used is easy to understand. For any plan to succeed, the whole team that is meant to enforce the plan requires to understand the whole plan. For a detailed understanding, the top managers need to keep reminding their employees of their set targets and the direction that the company is intending to reach to through their strategic plan. The plan also involves a proper definition of the concepts and makes sure that every aspect developed within the plan is one that the employees can achieve. The plans activities are mostly measurable and the time span within which indicated for most that includes the last goal on strengthened capacity and operational excellence.

A proper simple, understandable plan with time lines provides the management teams with time bound activity development ease that allows them to monitor their progress in relation to the set goals and ensure that the outcomes are ultimately achieved. The simplicity of the plan makes the work easy and enjoyable for each employee motivating them to embrace the plan and work towards achieving it.

Successful strategic plan have timelines and operate within those that act as the measurement aspects for ensuring that the progress of the plan is maintained and measured. For the plan attached, the last goals target to have their achievements most achieved by 2019 that mark the end date while the start date is the August 2014 when the plan was adopted into action. The plan is realistic for the period it encompasses. Covering the goals within this period is achievable. The period of five years is much effective in leading through a company to achieve their goals. The goals are meant to complement each other to lead the company into the direction intended. For improved operational excellence and strengthened capacity, effective stewardship is necessary.

The same applies for ensuring that the partners are engaged to the plan. The broader relevance goals will encourage partner’s engagement and support the stewardship aspect in achieving the operational goals. Proactive protection ensures that all aspects that may affect the whole operation are taken care of before they affect and hence controlling the resources, that the company employs in solving such challenges. Through proper goals coordination and the resource control that are all aspects of management, the plan is achievable and the resulting aspects provide the plan with its desired results. It is basing on this that the plan is considered a coordinated aspect and leads the company into progress that is registered within a specified period. Moving benchmarks in a strategic plan is not a good idea.

 This will encourage limited focus in the group that could make the whole plan find difficulties in being achieved. The timelines are meant to ensure that the plan is given a sense of direction and the management results are measured based on the achievements made during the period provided. Moving the time line will affect a number of aspects including partner’s engagement that ultimately affects the entire plan. Moving the period may also have the operational aspects affected resulting into difficulties in maintaining the plan and ensuring that the financial goals are not achieved. For proper financial returns, the other goals need to effectively be achieved and keep the company in line to guide its returns. The time set for the strategic plan is enough for the activities detailed and ensuring that the management remains focused to reach these goals is the best way to ensure that they all are achieved in the end.

All strategic plans require adequate resources to ensure that they guide the plan to success. The development of the plan needs to put into consideration the resource ability of the company and the different types of resources and the quantity. Resource allocations normally are followed by the development of budgets that cover the financial plans of the company and ensure that the company applies the resources in a controlled manner. Reading from the plan developed, the resources are covered more in the aspect covering the operation excellence and strengthening of the capacity of the company. For proper resource allocation, the operational aspects need to remain controlled and focused to ensuring that the company does not lose or incur losses due to poor resource allocation aspects.

Ensuring that the company’s capacity is in position to cover the resource needs will provide the necessary capacity returns that will take care of the resource needs. Engaging the partners of the plan in the development and continued aspects of the organization provides support to the company and ensures that all the different needs of the company are met for the smooth running of the events. Through an effective stewardship developed, the company is also in position to obtain much support from the management teams and ensure that the efforts of the managers yield positively guiding the complete strategic plan to success. Broader relevance ensures that the company’s strategic plan covers relevant aspects to which the resources are allocated leaving the company more achieved compared to the previous operations.

Basing on these, the company has ample resources invested in the processes and the mechanisms developed to control and use these resources prove effective. Successful strategic plans must have a systematic flow of resources attached to them that allows them to prove achievable as the need for any goals developed.

Preservation and the management of the Appalachian Trail is the mission of the agency. Ensuring that each person shares and enjoys the beauty and the cultural heritage of these trails today and in the future is part of the mission that the agency has developed (Our Mission, Vision and Values, n.d). The vision of the agency is to ensure a connection between the human spirits and the different aspects contained in nature. The strategic plan relates to the improvement of stewardship aspect that encourages proper management of the trail. These management efforts ensure the survival of the natural aspect and the proper care given to the customers that are the human spirits. These relate as per the vision of the organization. The priorities of the plan are consistent with the vision of the organization. The relationship of the agencies vision to the strategic plan gives the plan life and makes it more appropriate and more achievable in relation to the organization’s activities.

The strategic plan is not comprehensive enough. A comprehensive strategic plan involves the development of a plan including the key aspects that require attention leading to the development of the plan. The key issues should include aspects that the organization is trying to solve that led to the development of the plan. A comprehensive strategic plan also includes aspects through which the achievements of the plan are achieved. These normally include performance indicators that show the management the achievements gained in the short term and their effect to the long-term achievements. The company also needs to consider the short-term aspects through which the long-term aspects will be achieved.

For the plan to prove comprehensive enough, the need to consider the current issues affecting the company and discuss them in details is what drives the need to develop the strategic plan should be part of the plan. These aim at discussing the aspects and ensuring that the plan covers them effectively. Inclusion of these aspects in the strategic plan would make it more comprehensive and ensure proper guidance is provided to the management teams to have them run their operations in line with the needs of the company. A good strategic plan is meant to guide an organization to reaching its intended destination. The need to include an analysis on the company varies from one plan to another. Involving a SWOT analysis of the company will detail out the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, as well as threats that the company has that could affect the whole plan or help improve it.

The need to have this analysis done during the development of the strategic plan will help the company understand what it needs to do to ensure that the plan is not dead on arrival. The plan can then develop a set of procedures along this line that will help the company run within the set levels avoiding failures in attaining the set goals of the plan (IT Strategic planning, 2006).  It is the procedures that identify the different approaches that the company uses to achieve the set goals and it is through them that effective management is attained leading to a more successful plan compared to a strategic plan that is plain only discussing the goals leaving the employees not knowing the problem being solved.

The plan is normally prepared by the management of the organization after gathering information from different sources within the organization. These ensure to prepare a plan that will cover all the needs of the company as a way to get the company focused to improving their performance. The management also aims at solving the problems they face and seek more support from the shareholders of the company to help them perform better. The plan is drawn for review by the shareholders who consider all contents of the plan and either approve or reject. The shareholders of Appalachian did review the plan and it is from that basis that their decision on approval is made. The plan was developed internally and based much more on the different goals that the company has to improve their returns for the next five years from 2015 to 2019.

The management developed the plan to fit these years to ensure that the board understands the plans that the company has for the next five years. Scrutinizing the plan has not been done effectively since the plan has many comprehensive aspects left out. These aspects require identifying and providing for in the strategic plan before its approval for consumption at any point. The adoption of the plan will not much affect the end results since the plan has goals developed and that is if they are based on the needs of the organization and that the resources applied prove sufficient for the plan. The management needs to ensure that all aspects of the plan are handled right to help it achieve the ultimate objectives, mission and vision of the Appalachian Trail.

The success of strategic plan rests on the ability of the goals to be achieved within a given time line. If the strategic plan focuses on the achievement of its goals, the plan reaches a point where if the midterm goals developed are achieved. The midterm goals relate to the actual goals developed and the need to monitor the results on each step of the plan provide for a better analysis of whether the plan is succeeding or failing. When the evaluation on the plan is done and one realizes that the plan is not moving as expected, adjustments can be done to avoid failure of the plan. The plan is lacking the periodic benchmarks that will ensure that the plan is on track. Periodic benchmarks ensure that the long-term plans are broken down into small plans that prove effective in measuring the progress of the entire plan. Through the periodic benchmarks, the company is in position to understand the movement of the whole plan and base on that to make a judgment on the actual realizations of the plan.

The management team is responsible for reviewing the results of the plan on a regular basis through focusing on the benchmark aspects while the board will also play a role in ensuring that the management is within the frame work developed as per the plan and that the resources are being utilized well to ensure success of the plan. One of the major inclusions that the plan should make as per now is including the benchmarks that will monitor the achievement of the actual plan and its goals.  

The strategic plan definitely relates to the previous strategic plans. The company has the same vision and mission and hence relating them to their goals in strategic plans is what guides it towards these missions and visions. The strategic plans are normally developed on these lines and remain subject to review if any analysis realizes that the plan does not relate with the vision of the company. In the development of strategic plans, considerations of failures of previous strategic plans come to play and these relate with other aspects of the company including the successes of the previous plans and the failures. It is from the filters of the report of 2014 that the plan is developed. One of the aspects that featured in the 2014 March report of the board regards to the raising of funds that requires a good plan and partners to prove successful. These all prove related to the strategic plan of 2015-2019, which includes a part on partner’s engagement.

In relation to the plans, the performance of the current plan will determine what form it will feature in the next plan and what will not. The aspects all relate in order to ensure the vision and mission of the company remain followed. This creates the connection between these current strategic plans with the next.

In conclusion, all strategic plans developed by a company need to relate to the company’s goals and ensure that the vision and mission of the organization are embedded within. Consideration of the benchmark goals also enable the organization easily measure their progress and ensure that their objectives remain achievable as the management also strives to remain focused towards the achievement of the goals of the company. In any relationship derived from the current strategic plans, the next strategic plan for the next year develops leading to a continued connection between the plans through which the company strives to achieve its goals and other objectives. It is vital for any plan to undergo proper review before being incorporated into the organizations management aspects.

Consideration of the resource ability of the organization and the plans to cover the deficit leads the company to achieve their objectives. Development of unrealistic plans with no timeframes only develops plans that remain on paper and never reach the designed goals.

References
  • http://appalachiantrail.org/docs/default-document-library/final-atc-strategic-plan—august-2014.pdf
  • IT Strategic Planning, (2006). Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/irt/cio/strategicplanning/documents/ITSPStrategicPlanning.pdf
  • Our Mission, Vision and Values, (n.d). Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Retrieved from http://www.appalachiantrail.org/who-we-are/our-mission-vision-values

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