Step 8: Implement Plans

by John P. Hewlett, University of Wyoming

Putting the rubber to the road, assigning tasks, monitoring work strategy, but also performance, is the difficult work of the operational Sprinkler Irrigation System stage of risk management. This level of the strategic risk-management process puts plans to work. Drawing from the work accomplished in steps one and two – determining financial health and risk preferences – coupled with the risk goals set in step three, the operational steps describe the day-today activities needed to carry out the tactics analyzed and selected in steps four through seven of the strategic risk-management process, or SRMP.

Where the strategic level of the process assembles an inventory of resources available and develops the plan itself, the tactical level looks at how the plan will be accomplished by examining various management alternatives and choosing one to pursue.

The operational level makes the selected management alternatives happen and provides for the internal processes needed to sustain the effort over time. The operational level of the SRMP includes three steps: implementation, monitor and adjust, and replan. Although when viewed in the SRMP diagram, they appear as a linear, step-by- tep means of putting a strategic plan to work.


The process of putting a strategic plan into action may take many forms, depending on the culture of the organization, history of previous efforts, size in terms of number of individuals involved, geographic scope, and number and diversity of enterprises, as well as management style and degree of structure within the business.

In addition, the strategy selected plays a heavy hand in how implementation occurs. For example, a number of alternative strategies are available to develop or maintain a competitive advantage. Possibilities include creating barriers to entry, competitive pricing, or technological change and innovation, and adjusting firm architecture or personnel management. Each of these overarching strategies implies a very different method for implementation.

In its essential form, implementation is focused on three fundamental activities: resource acquisition, resource flow, and resource coordination. Resources in this context are the raw materials needed to create the products or services offered for sale by the firm. In livestock operations these would include grass and other forages, stored feeds such as hay and grain, the livestock animals, buildings and other improvements, the people involved in providing labor and management skills. A similar list can be assembled for any business or any alternative agriculture enterprise. These resources are traditionally grouped into three broad categories: land, labor, and capital.

First and foremost, implementation is about making sure the correct quantity of resources is available where and when they are needed. The resources must also be of the correct quality and must be in a condition to provide service for the needed period of time at the level required.

Resources can be obtained in a number of ways, such as purchasing with equity capital, purchasing with credit, renting/leasing, via share arrangements, custom hiring, sub-contracting, or trading for like resources/services.

The flow of resources into and out of the business must also be carefully managed for successful implementation. Not only is it critical that resources be available in the quantity needed, but also when and where they are needed. Resource levels fluctuate over the production year. But resource levels must be managed throughout the year for areas such as stored feedstuffs, farm diesel fuel, rangeland forages, and ranch labor. The success of many farm and ranch enterprises hinges on the ability of management to constrain the use of resources to sustainable levels, while simultaneously generating optimum output.

Coordination of acquisition and flow of resources throughout the production year is an essential facet of the implementation step. Resource demands by more than one enterprise, services provided by subcontractors within a limited window, or redirecting resource in response to changing conditions are all examples of the need for coordination. Strategic planning can assist in this process to some extent through development of detailed operational plans. However, day-to-day oversight is required to ensure success.

Communication is a key dimension in the coordination function. Effective managers will develop plans for appropriate communication to be employed as operational plans unfold. Details included in a communication plan will include: who needs to know, what they should know, and when they should know. Communication may also take many forms, increasing the complexity of this important function. In addition, a number of languages may be used depending on the ethnicity and backgrounds of the people.