Definitions and meanings:
A strategy is a broader proposal of action for a given aim. A strategy is usually long term and is directed to achieve the vision of an organization.
A plan is a detailed and focused proposition formulated to execute the strategy of an organization. Plan is usually short term and have a more well-defined target.
Difference between strategy and plan:
The main difference between strategy and plan is explained below:
1. Primary objective:
The strategy of a business is formed according to the vision statement of that business therefore it is wider and more extensive. Strategies are shaped for longer periods of time, therefore they are usually dynamic and businesses make continuous changes in their strategies to make it successful. A plan is the way through which a strategy can be achieved. Plans are normally made for shorter periods of time and remain constant for that period. This is because plans are set to obtain certain short-term objectives which are not only time bound but also resource scarce.
For an organization, composing a meaningful strategy is the first step for advancement towards its goals. It is normally written in a single line or a paragraph which clearly states the organization’s intentions and its direction. Plans are made after a strategy is set and are more detailed drafts with clear predetermined focal points and targets.Different plans are prepared for different business activities that are congruent with the strategic direction of the business. In essence, these plans are short steps that take an organization towards its strategy and thus a strategy is independent and can be composed without a plan, but a plan or plans cannot be devised without a strategy.
For example, if a car making company makes its strategy, it could be like:
“Our strategy is to become the top car manufacturer in our current market in the next 5 years.”
Now, this one-liner represents the vision of the car manufacturing company, but it does not represent or highlight the line of action or steps that the company will take to achieve this vision or meet this strategic goal. So, the company will make various plans for various aspects of their business, which will be based on an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. For example, based on this particular strategy, the company will produce its sales plans, production plans, financing plans etc. and all these distinct plans will have differing objectives. These plans will be implemented for the accomplishment of different parts of the main strategy.
A strategy is usually made by strategic management. These are the top most management personals of any organization who are responsible for its management and governance e.g. board of directors, majority shareholders etc. who hold the key decision making authority. Plans are formed by middle-tier management because these are more structured and detailed agendas of activities that need to be performed and implemented. These managers are also responsible for the application of these plans by incorporating operating level management and workforce of the company.
5. Basis of formulation:
A strategy mostly deals with the external environment of an organization. This external environment extends from the local market or industry to the macroeconomic conditions of the country or jurisdiction in which the organization is operating. Plans are prepared to tackle the internal environment of the business. Different facets or departments requires different plans to perform effectively but liaison is very important among these departments to maintain consistency and accord within the business.
Strategy versus plan – tabular comparison
A tabular comparison of strategy and plan is given below:
|Dispenses a wider perspective about the direction of an organization.||Defines different procedures for an organization to work on, to acquire its strategy.|
|It covers the vision of an organization and is independently prepared.||Plans are formulated in line of the strategy of an organization.|
|Is composed by the top strategic level management of an organization.||Are developed by middle level management personals.|
|Basis of formulation|
|Is prepared based on the external circumstances of the organization.||Is prepared based on the internal circumstances of the organization.|
Every organization whether it is a commercial business or a non-governmental organization has a vision statement and a mission statement which defines its vision and mission respectively. The strategy of any organization is set according to its mission and vision which reflects the primary and secondary objectives of that organization. Further plans of the organization are set in line with its strategy. This is the reason, formulation of effective strategies and their regular upgradation according to well-informed data and information is very important for modern businesses to survive and compete in their respective markets. Sometimes, organizations face a scenario of strategic drift, which results in deterioration of proactive analysis of their business environment and an ultimate stiffness or failure in revamping its strategic objective in accordance.