You’ve got the big picture. You know the desired outcome, you’ve identified who will be involved in the process, and you’ve mapped out a feasible timeline. The team quivers in readiness: Ready, set, go! But there’s no “go,” because you haven’t provided the guidance for how to get things done. The how relies upon supporting processes. Appian states, “Supporting processes such as human resources and accounting are put in place to support the core business processes.”

According to OnStrategy, implementation is the term that covers the process for moving from plan to action. But, without supporting processes to launch and guide the implementation, employees don’t know when to start, where to start, or how to start. Before giving the official okey-dokey to proceed, prepare for the pitfalls that plague implementation and result in failure of the strategic plan:

  • Lack of ownership. Make sure every team member has a stake in the project. This means conferring both responsibility and authority within each person’s purview.
  • Lack of communication. Make sure your employees know what they’re contributing to the plan and how they’re going to do that.
  • Sweating the small stuff. Managers who allow themselves to lose sight of the big picture by micromanaging the small details also lose sight of the long-term objectives.
  • Too broad a focus. A plan that contains too many goals and actions to be managed will overwhelm team members. Managers must make the tough choices and eliminate non-critical actions.
  • Lack of meaning. If team members view the strategic plan as meaningless, then they won’t be dedicated to its success.
  • Lack of attention. A plan that’s only revisited occasionally not only suffers from a lack of meaning, but also from an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude.
  • Failure to consider implementation. A lack of forethought as to how the plan will be accomplished will lead to duplicate, missed, and inefficient effort.

Support for implementation involves simultaneously running processes that coordinate the efforts of multiple team members. This involves making sure you have: 1) the right people on board; 2) sufficient funds and time to support implementation; 3) a clear structure of authority and communication; 4) a system in place to track progress; and 5) a culture that reinforces and supports the importance of the objective. Supporting processes rely upon people, not software.

Avoid the temptation to establish silos. In any business, no one department exists entirely disconnected from or unaffected by any other department. Supporting processes align the seemingly disparate services provided by each department or division. Harvard Business Review offers the following example of the interconnectivity afforded by thoughtfully considered supporting processes: “Today’s computer company, for example, can manufacture components in China, assemble them in Mexico, ship them to Europe, and service the purchasers from call centers in India.”

In today’s frenetic business climate in which everyone is expected to do more with less, multitasking becomes a requirement. Teams must focus on more than one goal or project at a time, so they need the supporting processes to keep them on track when they switch from one project or product to another. These supporting processes enable them to change tracks without disrupting the flow of a project.

Business success depends not upon structure, but upon the internal processes that form a transparent and realistic management system which aligns strategy with structure.