Tactical planning in business is all about turning your big-picture strategies into actionable steps. It bridges the gap between strategic planning, which sets the long-term vision, and the immediate actions needed to get there. Companies use tactical planning to break down big goals into manageable tasks to ensure strategies are practical and measurable.

But does your organization really need it? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of tactical planning, discussing when it’s most useful, how to go about implementing it, and more.

What is Tactical Planning?

Tactical planning takes your company’s strategic plan and uses it to drill down to specific short-term actions and plans that can then be divvied up between your teams depending on their function.

Naturally, the life cycle of these tactical plans is much shorter than the strategic plans.

Where a company sets out its strategic plan for the next five years, for example, tactical plans accompanying it may only be for a period of time up to a couple of years or less. This is of course dependent on the individual business and its operations. In volatile markets subject to more frequent changes, these timeframes can be much shorter.

Tactical planning is something that can take a while to complete, but once it’s done, everyone has clear and actionable instructions. It’s the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page and that all your operations are focused on the same strategic vision.

When To Use a Tactical Plan

Knowing when to deploy a tactical plan can be just as important as the plan itself. Understanding the timing and context of when to spring into action can really make a difference:

  • During Periods Of Growth: When your company is expanding, a tactical plan helps manage the complexities that come with growth. It helps maintain your organization’s stability even as it evolves.
  • For Launching A New Product Or Service: Introducing a new product or service usually involves coordinated efforts across multiple departments. A tactical plan helps outline each step— from development to launch — to ensure all departments are synchronized.
  • When Entering New Markets: Breaking into a new market requires precise, well-coordinated efforts. A tactical plan lays out the steps your teams need to take and helps align resources and schedules for a more unified approach in unfamiliar territory.
  • During Organizational Restructuring: If your company is restructuring, a tactical plan can help manage the transition smoothly by detailing the steps to reorganize teams, processes, and systems in alignment with strategic objectives.

Tactical Planning Examples

While specific strategic and tactical plans can vary between companies and industries, they all follow the same model: A strategic plan defines a long-term goal, and the tactical plan defines the steps needed to achieve it.

Here are some quick examples where the number is the strategic plan and the bullet points are the tactical plans.

1. Hire and develop a diverse cohort of new employees and retain them in the long-term

  • Research salary survey data to determine the compensation of new hires.
  • Carry out effective exit interviews to find out why people are leaving.
  • Develop outreach programs that target diverse areas (i.e., schools, cities).
  • Develop in-house training for managers and supervisors on diversity & inclusivity.

2. Reorganize the business so that it is more closely aligned with the industry

  • Review the existing roles and responsibilities of teams and business units.
  • Develop a reorganization proposal and distribute it to all employees.
  • Consult with employees to find out their operational pain points.
  • Experiment with org charts to build a new structure that supports our strategic goals.

3. Double the number of marketing assistants by the end of Q2

  • Create a detailed hiring profile that spells out the minimum candidate criteria.
  • Develop an outreach campaign that will target and attract the right talent.
  • Build an efficient onboarding process to make a great first impression to the new hires.

How to Build Your Own Tactical Plan

Since tactical planning is the process of breaking down your strategic plan into distinctive, concrete short-term plans, then that’s exactly what you should do:

1. Consider the Overall Vision

Since your tactical plans are influenced heavily by your overall strategic business plans, it’s important that you keep these in mind when creating your tactical plans. It’s also important to communicate your strategic plan to your employees who will be carrying out your tactical plans and make sure that they truly understand it. Once your employees understand the larger goal and how they can contribute to it, they’re far more likely to meet their individual tactical objectives.

2. Create Clear Objectives and Goals

Strategic planning rests on measurable and realistic goals and objectives, with objectives that are more complex requiring more time, money, and resources to achieve.

Before creating these objectives, consider your individual teams’ workloads and then prioritize your strategic plans based on i) what your company needs most and ii) how likely the objective is likely to be achieved given how busy or productive your team is.

3. Assign Actions to These Plans

It’s all well and good defining strategic plans like “Increase new leads by 20% before Q3” or “Produce a series of eight blog posts about <insert niche topic here>” but if you don’t have specific plans in place to achieve them, then you may struggle.

To assist your teams in achieving specific objectives, it’s a good idea to assign concrete action items to each one. Doing so eliminates the risk of confusion and provides your employees with easy-to-follow instructions that are aligned with their core skills.

4. Define Your KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you determine if you’re on the right track. For example, a KPI for “Increase new leads by 20% before Q3” could be a measurable rise in the number of new enquiries you’ve received, or a higher conversion rate on your website.

KPIs can be evaluated weekly, monthly, or quarterly to determine the success of your team’s efforts. The KPIs that you set and measure depend on your industry and you should only set ones that support your objectives; those that don’t will do nothing but feed you irrelevant information.

Other examples of KPIs include:

  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Quarterly or annual profit compared to previous reports
  • Sales figures
  • Product enquiries received
  • New positive customer reviews

5. Delegate Actions to Specific Teams

Teams work best and follow through with objectives better when they know who’s responsible for what.

As you put together your tactical plans, delegate the work to the people or teams that are most qualified to take on the work. While there may be many people or teams involved with a single objective, it’s important that your tactical plans and goals are more focused and are unambiguously clear about who is taking each one on.

One of the biggest advantages to tactical planning is that nobody is left behind confused about what needs to be done. Instead, they get the momentum going and allow your strategic plan to come to life.  

Benefits of Tactical Planning in Business

Tactical planning is a crucial tool for proactive management and achieving key objectives. Here are some of the other benefits tactical planning can provide your organization:

  • Clear Direction: Tactical planning provides clear, actionable steps for your team. This prevents confusion and keeps everyone focused on what needs to be done.
  • Better Resource Management: Through tactical planning, resources are allocated where they are needed the most, minimizing resource inefficiency.
  • Enhanced Coordination: Tactical planning breaks down broad plans into specific actions, which helps improve coordination among various departments.
  • Improved Communication: Since tactical plans outline specific responsibilities, better communication is achieved within teams. Everyone knows their role and how it contributes to larger goals, boosting morale and effectiveness.

Disadvantages of a Tactical Plan in Business

While tactical planning can be immensely helpful, it’s not without drawbacks. Here are some of its limitations that you should be aware of:

  • Can Complicate Plans: If not carefully managed, tactical plans can become too detailed and complex, making them difficult to follow and implement.
  • May Lead to Inflexibility: In some cases, sticking to a plan to a T can lead to missed opportunities. A rigid tactical plan may also be unable to adapt to sudden market changes.
  • Risk of Misalignment: If not properly aligned with strategic objectives, tactical plans can lead teams in directions that are not beneficial for the business as a whole.
  • Potential Shortsightedness: Some tactical plans may focus too much on immediate results, potentially neglecting long-term strategic goals.

Try Organimi to Help With Tactical Planning In Your Business

Organimi is an HR tool that can help you streamline tactical planning for your business. Check out a free trial of the software to see how it can help your HR team work more efficiently to help things run smoothly  in your business.  You can also join Organimi’s LinkedIn community to connect with other HR professionals looking to better their operations.