Strategic and scenario planning in ranching to weather the storm

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Current markets have many South Dakota cattle producers asking, “How do we prepare for 2017 and weather this storm?”

Strategic planning is one answer given by Sean Kelly, SDSU Extension Range Management Field Specialist.

“Strategic planning is an often-used buzzword in the industry, that contains tools ranch managers can use to navigate through this time of uncertainty and market volatility,” Kelly explained.

Strategic and scenario planning in ranching is a 10-step process, said Kelly referencing the handbook “Strategic Scenario Planning in Ranching: Managing Risk in Dynamic Times.”

“Many challenges face the ranching industry at this time and many more are on the horizon, however, by implementing a strategic plan, a ranch manager will be better positioned to manage risk and meet those challenges today and into the future,” Kelly said.

Kelly outlined the 10 steps below:

1. Assess current situation and inventory of ranch resources

2. Conduct SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis

3. Establish a vision for the ranch

4. GAP analysis – a GAP analysis determines if there are any “gaps” between the current situation on the ranch and the desired outcome or vision for the ranch

5. Strategies to close the gap

6. Describe multiple scenarios

7. Select and evaluate the most-probable scenarios

8. Determining Strategies with the highest likelihood of success

9. Implementation of the strategic plan

10. Monitor performance with the Balanced Scorecard

“Although the 10-step process may look daunting, it is an excellent opportunity to take a hard in-depth look at your operation,” Kelly said. “The process may reveal unforeseen opportunities and unlock the potential of the operation while better positioning the ranch when conditions and markets improve.”

Kelly added that the strategic and scenario planning process works very effectively regardless the size of the ranch operation. “Small family farms to large corporate operations have taken advantage of this process,” he said.

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