Strategic Planning Part III: Understanding Business Challenges and Business Objectives

Written by

Chuen Seet

After the early stages of the strategic planning process, it’s time to shift gears from defining your strategy to translating your strategy into a plan for real-world implementation. By this point, you’ve answered why implementing your strategy plan is important, but now it’s time to define what your business needs to accomplish in order to achieve its strategic vision.

During this stage, strategy consultants and business architects begin to take real-world considerations into account by determining what business challenges they’ll face in implementing their strategy plan, as well as what business objectives need to be created in order to overcome these challenges.

The good news is that during this stage of strategic planning, you can begin using strategic roadmapping tools like Jibility to organize, streamline, and automate large chunks of your strategic planning process. After walking you through the remaining steps in the strategic planning process, Jibility will then use that information to help you generate a strategic roadmap.

What are business challenges?

Business challenges are the problems (and opportunities for growth!) you’ll face in implementing your strategic plan. Before you get discouraged, overcoming these problems is the reason your strategic plan exists in the first place.

Taking the time to fully articulate your business challenges sets your business up for success by helping you avoid potential pitfalls and determine which business objectives need to be formed to solve these problems.

Defining business challenges for each strategic objective

Throughout this series, we’ve been following a furniture retail chain throughout their strategic planning process. If you’ll remember, their strategic vision was, To be the most recognizable and profitable furniture retail chain in the southeast. In the last article, they had refined their strategic goals into the following strategic objectives:

  • Open new retail locations in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville by Q3 2025.
  • Reduce supply chain costs by 12% by optimizing inventory management and transportation routes.
  • Add 24 electric vehicles to our fleet by Q2 2026 to reduce energy costs for transportation.
  • Explore new supply chain partnerships that are more cost effective.
  • Formalize 3 new partnerships with up-and-coming furniture manufacturers by attending major tradeshows this calendar year and investing in new sales and marketing collateral.
  • Grow following on social media platforms by 35% over the next calendar year by releasing compelling content with greater regularity, reaching out to key influencers, and utilizing keyword and hashtag research.

Now, it’s time for the furniture retail chain to lay out the business challenges they will face in achieving their strategic objectives. The more circumspect they are in articulating these challenges, the more circumspect they can be in planning solutions and not letting these business challenges derail their strategy plan.

Examples of business challenges

Take for instance, the following strategic objective: Open new retail locations in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville by Q3 2025. There are a handful of business challenges that the furniture retail chain must overcome in order to successfully achieve this objective, such as:

  • The furniture retail chain will have to identify viable properties and locations for a retail outlet in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville.
  • Funding will need to be secured and allocated in order to make successful bids for viable properties.
  • Supply chains will have to be updated in order to accommodate these new markets.
  • Consumers in these markets may have low levels of brand awareness.

As you can see, a single strategic objective can spawn a handful of business challenges. This process will then have to be repeated for each strategic objective.

In order to help streamline this stage of strategic planning, Jibility’s roadmapping software includes a library of pre-built content, such as common business challenges, that strategy consultants, business architects, and business executives can choose from to more quickly build out their roadmap. In addition to helping save time, the ability to choose from pre-defined content helps you discover potential business challenges that you may not have thought of on your own.

Creating business objectives to overcome challenges

Business objectives are a list of goal-based outcomes that a company creates in order to specifically address and overcome their business challenges. If business challenges define what problems you need to overcome in order to accomplish your strategic vision, business objectives define what business outcomes need to be accomplished to resolve each problem.

The difference between strategic objectives and business objectives

Compared to strategic objectives, which are long-term, overarching goals that relate directly to the implementation of a company’s vision strategic vision, business objectives are usually more short-term, solution-focused outcomes that relate directly to solving the business challenges a company faces.

While strategic objectives may drive long-term action across an entire organization, business objectives are typically smaller scale and may be assigned to a team or department. But just like strategic objectives, it’s important to create business objectives using a SMART framework. In other words, business objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timebound in order to fully address each business challenge.

Business objective examples

Circling back to the retail furniture chain, they have begun defining business challenges for each of their strategic objectives. Now, it’s time to create business objectives that address these challenges following a Problem-Solution format.

Take for instance the following business challenge: The furniture retail chain will have to identify viable properties and locations for a retail outlet in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville. A corresponding business objective might be: The three most promising locations in each city are selected by the end of 2023. Notice that accomplishing that outcome would resolve the underlying business challenge.

Now, let’s create a different business objective for another challenge the furniture retail chain faces: Consumers in these markets may have low levels of brand awareness. In this case, a corresponding business objective might be:

  • Improve marketing capabilities ahead of the launch of the new retail locations.
  • Increase market brand awareness in these new markets by Q1 2025.
Jibility screenshot showing links between business objectives and business challenges for furniture retail chain expansion roadmap
Jibility gives the furniture retail chain the ability to link business objectives to business challenges.

The furniture retail chain will then repeat this process to build out business objectives for each of their business challenges. As you can see, their strategic planning process has become increasingly granular and specific. Strategic goals that once seemed vague and difficult to quantify are now clearly defined, actionable business objectives that address business challenges and logistical obstacles.

Continue to learn more about strategic planning

Now that you have constructed business objectives to overcome the business challenges you’ll face in implementing your strategy plan, only three steps remain between remain between you and generating a strategic roadmap!

Carry on to learn about the next steps in Strategic Planning Part IV: Linking Business Actions to Capabilities.

If you missed previous articles, you can find them here:

Free tool for strategic prioritization

Jibility gives you a fast and consistent means of exposing the traceability of each initiative back to the strategic objectives. This means pet projects that sound great but don’t truly align can be identified and discarded early.

Jibility is a dynamic tool, whereby it’s easy to apply changes and see the impact on budget instantly — either within the initial workshop, or when a strategic pivot needs to happen out of the blue.