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As such, strategic planning occurs around the strategy formation activity.Strategic planning is a process and thus has inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes. It may be formal or informal and is typically iterative, with feedback loops throughout the process.These elements are considered throughout the strategic planning process.Data is gathered from a variety of sources, such as interviews with key executives, review of publicly available documents on the competition or market, primary research (e.g., visiting or observing competitor places of business or comparing prices), industry studies, etc.Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy.Strategy includes processes of formulation and implementation; strategic planning helps coordinate both.However, strategic planning is analytical in nature (i.e., it involves "finding the dots"); strategy formation itself involves synthesis (i.e., "connecting the dots") via strategic thinking.
The financial plans accompanying a strategic plan may include 3–5 years of projected performance.Strategy has many definitions, but generally involves setting strategic goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources).There will also arise unintended Outcomes, which need to be attended to and understood for strategy development and execution to be a true learning process.Simply extending financial statement projections into the future without consideration of the competitive environment is a form of financial planning or budgeting, not strategic planning.
Other inputs include an understanding of the values of key stakeholders, such as the board, shareholders, and senior management.