Are you wondering whether to hire a consultant for your organization’s strategic planning process?
When you decide to create a strategic plan for your organization, it’s tempting to consider a DIY process. After all, there are plenty of strategic planning templates and apps online. Plus, hiring a consultant costs money and many businesses and nonprofits are operating on tight budgets. If your organization already creates annual goals, then how different is drafting a 3-5-year strategic plan?
But that’s where one of the biggest misconceptions about strategic planning comes into play:
Strategic planning isn’t a product, it’s a process.
The actual process is where the magic of strategic planning happens. It’s where you engage stakeholders and build consensus. It’s where you create buy-in across your team for the vital—and often challenging—implementation process.
You’re not hiring a strategic planning consultant to write a document. You’re hiring a strategic planning consultant to facilitate a process that will get you the best possible results in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Hiring a strategic planning consultant can pay dividends in the short- and long-term. Here’s how.
The Role of a Strategic Planning Consultant
A strategic planning consultant oversees an organization’s strategic planning process, manages stakeholder participation, and ensures successful execution.
The consultant’s role typically includes developing a workplan and timeline for the strategic planning processing, assisting with stakeholder feedback processes, facilitating strategic planning sessions or retreats, facilitating consensus building, and preparing a final written strategic plan.
Are you ready to get your board and staff on the same page?
5 Reasons Why to Hire a Consultant for Strategic Planning
1. Save Time
Strategic planning takes time from staff and board leadership. Whether you use a consultant or not, your leadership team will need to be heavily involved in developing your organization’s strategy.
But without a consultant, these same leaders will also need to coordinate the actual strategic planning process itself. That means setting goals and timelines. Researching best practices. Crafting meeting agendas. Scheduling and facilitating planning retreats.
In contrast, a strategic planning consultant facilitates the process itself—leaving leaders to focus on strategy. Plus, an experienced consultant will come in with a set of tools and expertise that they’ll customize to your organization to make the experience productive and seamless.
2. Save Money
We all know that hours translate into dollars when it comes to staff time. Staff leadership participating in strategic planning will include some of the highest paid positions in your organization. Every hour your CEO or Executive Director spends prepping a strategic planning session agenda costs your organization money.
There are also opportunity costs. Especially for nonprofit organizations, the hours or even days an Executive Director spends on planning logistics means time NOT spent fundraising.
3. Build Authentic Consensus
Building consensus isn’t just about getting people to agree. It’s about creating space to grapple with challenges, explore opportunities, and co-create a path forward together. The key is encouraging full and authentic participation.
That’s why a strategic planning consultant doesn’t just organize a checklist (like you might find online). They facilitate consensus building across your team. And they help you make sure the right people are in the room for those critical conversations.
4. Strengthen Internal Alignment
When it comes to strategic planning, one of the most challenging parts is actually implementation. To set your organization up for implementation success, you need stakeholder alignment and buy-in. All of which starts during the strategic planning process itself.
Your strategic planning consultant will help you not only build consensus but guide you in thinking through how different organizational stakeholders should be involved in the process. For example, they can advise on gathering input through strategic planning stakeholder surveys or interviews. They can help you think through staff engagement in both planning and implementation. In short, they help you create a plan for how to build alignment—and then leverage the strategic planning process to achieve it.
5. Benefit from Priceless Expertise
A good strategic planning consultant will come to you with years of experience facilitating organizational planning processes. They know best practices—and have likely honed some of their own. They have experience navigating thorny internal dynamics and guiding organizations to successful outcomes. They have extensive training and practice in planning and facilitation.
And your organization will benefit from all the expertise your consultant has gathered over their career. Which makes hiring a strategic planning consultant an incredibly smart investment.