Whether you are just starting a business or are taking over a decades-old enterprise, it is important to periodically evaluate your corporate strategy. Doing so ensures that your business is using its resources efficiently, can take advantage of new developments and avoid market disruptions. The essential points to consider during the evaluation process are the current state of the business, the desired end state and the way to get there.

How Things Are Today

Any evaluation of corporate strategy must begin with an honest assessment of where the business is now. If your business has a mission statement or other written goals in place, you have a good place to start. Objectively assess business resources and how they are being used. If there are inefficiencies that can be corrected or other savings that can be used to move forward, those are important to note as well.

The classic approach for doing this involves SWOT analysis -- an examination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats -- and the formation of a strategic plan based on those elements.

Heading in the Right Direction

Now it is important to assess the vision for the future of the company and determine whether it still applies or whether the goals need to be changed. Evaluate the options moving forward and come up with a methodology that examines which ones are the most appropriate and attainable. Avoid basing these goals simply on dreams or idealized visions. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis is essential -- particularly in regards to the return on investment.

When setting new short-term and long-term objectives, it helps to focus on clear, measurable goals. An objective such as “To become the most efficiently run business in the state” is hard to measure and all but impossible to prove, so it will likely not resonate. “Increase ROI by 15 percent” is a benchmark that is easier for employees to shoot for.

The Way Forward

Once an assessment of the current state has been made and goals have been established, it's time to identify the way forward. Evaluate the resources on hand and what will be needed to take the next steps. Make adjustments accordingly.

Once the strategy is in place, it is important to evaluate how it is being communicated to stakeholders and -- especially -- to employees. Different groups of stakeholders will have different concerns based on their positions, and managing those interests is often challenging.

Suitability, Feasibility and Acceptability

One of the classic models for evaluating strategy is the Johnson, Scholes and Whittington approach, which judges strategic options against suitability, feasibility and acceptability. By examining a corporate strategy using the guidelines above, a business owner or potential investor can be satisfied that the organization is embarking on an approach that effectively addresses its goals, that the approach is workable, and that there will be sufficient acceptance to make the strategy work.