The challenges of strategic analysis

You may be convinced of the benefits of strategic planning but concerned about unknown difficulties and barriers. Here are some common challenges that organisations in the Third Sector Foresight network have faced.

What are your experiences of strategic analysis? Share your triumphs and tribulations with the members in the forums, or write your own tips on your profile.

Lack of time

Garbage in, garbage out. If you rush the job, you risk poor quality results.

Lack of skill

Without the necessary skills you will not obtain the quality of information and analysis necessary to make the difference.


Staff and stakeholders may think that strategic analysis is a waste of time with no practical benefits. They may previously have had negative experiences with planning that colour their opinion, or they think they know it all already. Perhaps they are concerned that it takes previous time from front-line service delivery.


Some people say that strategic analysis of the external environment is rarely if ever relevant. They argue things are changing so fast that you as soon as you grasp them for long enough to carry out analysis they are out-of-date.

Force of habit

People have “pet” activities. This means that organisations tend to repeat things out of habit. If your analysis says these activities will not be relevant in the longer term, you are likely to generate considerable organisational upset.

Leila Ferguson from West Berkshire Mencap says

“When we did this, we were terrified. We were walking in a small circle of light but all around us, we didn’t know what was in the corners. It was scary for a while but after a bit, all we could see were opportunities. It’s very inspiring.”

When thinking about these challenges, use the positive benefits to overcome the negatives. If there is doubt about strategic analysis in your organisation or you suspect people are only paying lip service to the idea, promote the benefits.

Read about the strategic planning process in more detail.

Last updated at 17:57 Mon 12/Apr/10.