Flowcharts Help in Strategic Planning for Remote Teams

“The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well” – John D. Rockefeller

Strategic planning whether conducted yearly, mid-year, or even quarterly must be done in an orderly fashion. It is an important process for any company to set goals and objectives, prioritize projects, finalize timelines and budgets, and put in place milestones for execution and implementation. While this process is important, it is also daunting and cumbersome, and the challenges are heightened when this process needs to be put in place for remote teams. With the current situation resulting in companies allowing remote work for their employees, strategic planning is now a process with higher stakes and requiring a lot more accuracy and focus.

It would make sense then to use newer tools and techniques for strategic planning for remote teams and one such visually effective tool is the flowchart diagram. Strategic planning for remote teams can throw up some serious gaps, breakdown in communication, and several bottlenecks, leading to uncertainty. A flowchart diagram with its multi-dimensional structure can help to break through the traditional ways of managing strategic planning and hence prove to be an effective tool in managing remote working teams.

A flowchart is a visual tool that can help a company to adapt to a new and elevated method of strategic planning, taking remote teams into consideration. Since strategic planning requires looking ahead on all aspects and especially on anticipating future needs of the customers, it makes sense to use a tool that encompasses all the factors and visually displays them. The flowchart as a tool allows the creators and stakeholders to ‘visually’ lay out plans to manage surge in business, create new features, fine-tune the processes around customer service, and or launch a new range of product and services. Being able to ‘see’ the advantages of proper strategic planning can prove to be the difference between success and failure – and flowcharts allow passionate ideas to take the shape of concrete plans. By visualizing the plans, a company would be able to accurately assess timelines, budgets, teams required, and other resources necessary for it to meet its short and long term goals.

With planning sessions usually running into hours and requiring focused attention, such planning becomes harder with teams working remotely. It makes sense to use the visual representation of each step via a flowchart and circulate it to all the relevant members, prior to a meeting. Doing so will enable each person to make a note of the points, requirements, and their own thoughts – saving a lot of time and leading to conclusive and definitive meetings. Visually depicting expectations would allow the various stakeholders to make the necessary preparations prior to the meeting. For example, the market position analysis and existing and required resource knowledge can be gathered prior to the meeting, thereby saving time and doing away with the need for a follow up meeting. In addition, ready numbers would make strategic planning more robust and effective. Further, those responsible for new product creation and launch would find it easier to place their ideas of new products/services within the expanse of a flowchart, showcase the benefits, market readiness, and a lot more with regard to new products/services.

Flowcharts are a versatile tool, with the possibility of several combinations of shapes and colors to depict various stages/processes/tools/people/resources within the strategic planning process. By preparing in advance for a strategic planning meeting, employees attending these meetings would remain engaged, have a higher span of attention, and would remain focused on the agenda of the meeting rather than being distracted by pending work and or tiredness. Within the realm of Human Resources for example: flowcharts can help to map resource allocation based on new employees versus employee turnover, market changes, salary and benefits, and other such criteria – these are critical considerations while making long term strategic plans for a company. Since strategic planning involves the accounting of a wide range of ‘moving parts’, mapping these within flowcharts would help to gain visibility and flexibility for all current and proposed projects and their dependencies and timelines. Doing so would prove to be a challenge without such visual representation.

Any plan, especially for long term goals and objectives requires that these be written down in an easy to understand and access manner. During unplanned meetings several ideas are usually captured on a whiteboard/flipcharts/or someone’s notebook. How effective these methods prove to be comes to the fore when decision makers decide to revisit the ideas – they are nowhere to be found. Capturing these ideas within flowcharts – along with their pros and cons, budgets, and resources required, ensures that no idea is left out and everything about the ideas are clearly and visibly laid out. These flowcharts can be circulated digitally as well for easy access and use. The next concrete steps that might ‘flow’ from these ideas can also be captured within the expanses of the flowchart diagrams. The many other challenges that long term strategic planning can throw up, especially with regard to remote working teams, can be effectively captured and resolved within flowcharts.

Several companies today have been forced to work with remote teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have adapted better than others, however, the strategic planning process would definitely throw up new and more tedious challenges and hence it makes sense to use new and different tools to ease out the process. With remote teams and global presence, it is no longer possible to just ‘hop over to someone’s office’ or ‘talk in the break room or in the hallway’ in an attempt to hash things out. Now it is about gaining and sustaining attention of employees spread across locations and countries, and as humans learn better through visual aids, the visually appealing and focused tool of flowcharts will certainly help.

When employees work together at the same location and office, the office ‘culture’ kicks in, and everyone seems to adapt to each other and the requirements of the company. However, when working from the comfort of one’s home or a remote location with one or two employees, maintaining focus becomes a lot harder. Employees across all remote locations must be kept on the ‘same page’ in order for the organization to work as a cohesive single unit. Mapping revised and distinct KPIs and company goals in a visually appealing tool such as a flowchart, ensures that each team, department, and even the leadership team remain aware of who would be responsible for which activity and which teams/employees are performing well and also those who need development and ‘catching up’. With clearly defined goals, strategic planning for the long term becomes easier, prevents burn out, and ensures that each person remains true to the organization’s goals, albeit with timings and a location of their choice.

Flowchart mapping of the strategic planning process is one of the more effective methods to prevent disengagement of employees and ensuring that time is used effectively to further the cause of organizational and self-development. If remote teams and offices are the new way of working, it seems sensible for companies to employ tools that would ensure robust execution plans, achievable goals, and market competitiveness. Strategic planning is a must and visual collaboration through flowcharts would ensure that your company powers through all the remote team challenges and uncertainties, without compromising leading market position. Happy planning!

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