On page 586, analyze the Strategic Planning at
Branch-Smith Printing Division. What are some of the unique features
associated to their Strategic Planning? Identify situations in which you
had to strategically plan within your organization or place of
employment.The requirements below must be met for your paper to be accepted and graded:Write between 700 – 1,000 words using Microsoft Word in APA style, see example below.Use font size 12 and 1” margins.Include cover page and reference page.At least 80% of your paper must be original content/writing.No more than 20% of your content/information may come from references.Use at least three references from outside the course
material, one reference must be from EBSCOhost. Text book, lectures, and
other materials in the course may be used, but are not counted toward
the three reference requirement.Cite all reference material (data, dates, graphs, quotes,
paraphrased words, values, etc.) in the paper and list on a reference
page in APA style. References must come from sources
such as, scholarly journals found in EBSCOhost, CNN, online newspapers
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as, Wikis, Yahoo Answers, eHow, blogs, etc. are not acceptable for
academic writing. Page 586 Attached
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QUALITY in PRACTICE: Strategic Planning
at Branch-Smith Printing Division20
Branch-Smith, Inc., is a fourth-generation family business founded
by Aaron Smith in 1910. This discussion characterizes the
company and its strategic planning processes at the time it
received the Baldrige Award in 2002. While the company has
evolved and changed significantly, this example serves as a
comprehensive case study of how performance excellence is
integrated into the strategic planning process. It is historically
accurate but may not reflect current practices.
The Branch-Smith Printing Division in Ft. Worth, Texas, has
only 70 full-time employees and specializes in creating multipage,
bound materials with services ranging from design to mailing for
specialty customers. The company produces publications,
magazines, catalogs, directories, and books, as well as some
general commercial printing, typically in quantities generally less
than 20,000. It offers a complete array of turnkey services to
customers, including design, image scanning, electronic and
conventional prepress work, printing, binding, and
Within the Printing Division, the context of the business is set
through their Vision Statement: “Market
Leading Business Results through an Expert Team providing
Turnkey Solutions to Customer Partners.” This vision expresses
the desire to produce strong and sustainable results through
balanced performance improvement. It creates success for longterm customers and rewards for their employees who bring
solutions to bear on our opportunities. The mission is stated as:
“The mission of the Branch-Smith Printing Division is to provide
expert solutions for publishers.” This purpose guides BranchSmith Printing in meeting customers’ needs on its own terms.
Publishers work with them because Branch-Smith focuses on
serving publishers’ niche requirements for printing as well as
offering the vertically integrated value-added services that result
in lower costs, reduced cycle times, and on-time delivery. An
important component of the solution is easy accessibility for the
customer, and timely and appropriate information. It is also
expressed in its Quality Policy, which states: “Branch-Smith
Printing will seek to continuously improve results for all
stakeholders through the application of its Innovating Excellence
The printing industry is very competitive with numerous
companies seeking market share. Branch-Smith Printing stands
out among competitors based on its approach for identifying and
serving a specific niche, focusing on development of long-term
relationships, partnering with suppliers, and involvement in
standard defining industry associations. To ensure a competitive
position, it focuses on serving a select market niche that most
other printers have difficulty serving well. Many competitors focus
on attracting jobs with greater quantity outputs because of the
limitations of their equipment. They charge much higher prices for
the shorter runs, thus giving Branch-Smith an advantage in this
market. Its equipment and technologies are directed to costeffectively serve this niche through sheet-fed press versus the
popular web printing. This technology allows for faster
changeovers from one type of print to another and process
automation offers cost savings.
Although Branch-Smith is a small family business, they engage
in a formal planning process annually with monthly updates during
management reviews. The process is built around a continuous
learning cycle that begins with lessons learned from previous
years to determine and implement improvements. The strategic
planning process (SPP) is a key tool the company uses to
visualize the ideal future and create strategies and plans to
achieve it, and to incorporate improvement opportunities into
prioritized action plans. Strategic planning occurs formally each
year with updates and tracking conducted monthly during
management reviews. Ongoing updates throughout the year allow
the company to correct direction or to proactively respond to risks
and opportunities.
Figure 11.14 represents the full strategic planning, deployment,
and review process. A month prior to strategic planning,
assignments are made to PLT members to research information
needed for strategic decision making. The assignment list
includes 28 specific areas for understanding organizational and
supplier/partner capabilities, market conditions, stakeholder input
and requirements, competitive information, industry issues, and
risks. Branch-Smith gathers information through a customer
survey, lost revenues, and complaints to identify customer needs
and their importance, trends and directions of the printing
industry, and market requirements from industry association
networking. Involvement in professional associations provides
industry knowledge and benchmarks concerning customer needs
and competitor actions, including emerging tools and competitors.
Trade magazines and discussions with key suppliers provide
additional input about customer needs, competitor directions, and
supplier capabilities. Trends and directions in technology and
other environmental changes are also identified through
involvement with trade associations and external benchmarking
groups, and through general understanding of the business
climate gained through newspapers, journals, and periodicals.
FIGURE 11.14 Branch-Smith Strategic Planning Process
One important source of information for strategic planning
regarding human resource needs and capability is an annual
employee survey. Human resource and operational capabilities
are identified through review of aggregate measures of
performance and productivity, which are enhanced with feedback
from scheduled ISO audits that identify processes in need of
improvement. Primary inputs on process efficiency and capability
come from in-process productivity measures, revenue lost due to
complaints, and other measures, which include spoilage cost,
frequency, and reason. These measures are recorded daily
through electronic, shop-floor data collection. Strategic
partnerships with key suppliers help to gather information about
availability of materials and supplier growth plans to help
determine their capability to meet Branch-Smith’s changing
needs. Finally, part of the annual operational review involves
understanding suppliers’ current financial position and trends in
profitability and utilization, which is compared to external
economic conditions to identify areas of potential risk and
opportunity over the short- and longer-term.
The formal planning activity is conducted during the fall of each
year by the Print Leadership Team (PLT) through a series of
meetings on and off site. Step 1 of Figure 11.14 ensures that
lessons learned and improvement cycles are built into the SPP.
The PLT analyzes the effectiveness of the overall planning and
deployment process to determine and implement improvements.
The effectiveness of the leadership system is also evaluated and
areas for improvement for the coming year are determined. These
improvements are documented as potential actions for the
strategic plan. In Step 2, the company reviews its vision, mission,
and values to ensure they still reflect the current environment.
Next, management reviews and revises objectives, which are
intended to communicate to employees and all stakeholders what
the company expects to accomplish in the next three to five years.
In Step 3, the company conducts an operational review to
analyze the results of the organization’s key performance
measures for the prior year. They then review and incorporate
information into the plan from annual Baldrige-based selfevaluation or from external review feedback. This analysis
provides an understanding of key strengths and weaknesses for
the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
analysis in Step 5. Step 4 involves a business analysis to
evaluate the external environment to forecast changing trends
and gain market requirements. PLT members bring forward
defined inputs, including literature and studies for scanning the
environment and identifying new opportunities for products,
services, competitive advantage, marketing, and technology
approaches. From the review of this information, the PLT
develops a list of potential opportunities and threats for each
environmental element. In Step 5, a SWOT analysis is conducted
based upon the issues identified in Steps 1, 3, and 4. SWOT
elements are used to identify and prioritize key areas to address.
Based upon the SWOT review, the PLT develops short- and
longer-term strategies and actions to move the company toward
its vision and objectives. They add in action plans that are still in
process from the prior year to allow them to also be prioritized, set
appropriate measures and goals for objectives and strategies,
and sort and prioritize the action plans. Action plans are assigned
to PLT members to develop (or update) steps, timelines,
resources, costs, and measures of success. These plans are then
entered into the Quality Improvement Database (QID) for review
and tracking. A final balancing meeting is held to review the plan
as a whole and make needed adjustments to timing of plans and
financial and human resource requirements to balance the plan to
resource constraints. In Step 6, the company creates documents
and methods to support deployment of the plan.
Results of strategic planning are first communicated to
employees through a deployment meeting. Leaders, with their
departmental teams or other appropriate members, then discuss
the plans during follow-up sessions. Teams and individuals
update goals and mission statements for their departments that
support the division plans, thus aligning actions, measures, and
goals throughout the organization. Other stakeholders receive a
variety of communications to detail our plans and strategies for
informational and planning purposes. For example, a supplier
appreciation luncheon is held to provide a more direct opportunity
to present plans to key supplier partners and receive feedback on
plans and needs. In Step 7, financial resource requirements to
accomplish the action plans are rationalized into short- and
longer-term budget projections. Then, in Step 8, ongoing tracking
of action plans is conducted through monthly management review
of overall progress to plans and key measures. Throughout the
year as needed, the strategic plan is updated with new or
modified action plans to reflect the changes to the environment.
Key Issues for Discussion
1. Compare Branch-Smith’s approach to the generic
strategic planning process described in this chapter. What
are some of its unique features?
2. Branch-Smith’s current objectives are “1) To
continuously improve business results through a process
improvement focus, partnership with our suppliers, and
strong financial performance. 2) To become the partner of
choice for our customers through: a targeted marketing plan,
excellent execution to customer requirements, and
relationship development. To become the partner of choice,
our value package must be continually improved. 3) To
become the employer of choice through: a caring, involved
culture; continually improving training systems; providing
growth opportunities; and industry leading compensation,
benefits, and reward and recognition systems. We extend
the same quality environment to coworkers as we extend to
customers.” How do these objectives address the strategic
challenges cited in the case? What types of activities might
the company deploy to achieve these objectives?
Source: Branch-Smith Printing, Strategic Planning Process. Courtesy of David
Branch, President. This excerpt is reprinted with the understanding that the
material herein included is historically accurate but is not in practice today.

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