Over the years I have seen many strategic plans being developed. Some good, some not so good. One of the things I have noticed is that there is a basic format. The first thing that should be noted is that a strategic plan is not a business plan. Sure, a good strategic plan should contain references to financial impact and an outline of costs, but at the strategic level, these really are best guesses. Indeed, part of any strategic plan should be to ensure a business plan is created for any significant strategic initiatives/projects that are identified.
I favor the Balanced Scorecard methodology and have therefore created a Strategic Plan Template that follows this approach. I have found it provides a good outline and enough detail to take the mind off document structure and place the focus on content. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) methodology forces the working team to concentrate business objectives (based on a company vision and mission) and their interconnected value.
Unlike other methodologies, BSC suggests it is at the business objective stage where measures and targets need to be identified. Only when the business objectives, measures and targets have been clearly stated should we even consider initiatives or projects. It is the success of the business objective that is the imperative.
The mistake that is often made in strategic planning is to jump straight to initiatives or projects without considering business impact carefully. The problem with this approach is that the measures tend to be based on whether or not a project has completed, this tells us nothing about business value.
The strategic plan template structure I use is as follows:
- Vision – States the company vision
- Mission – States the company mission
- Core Values – The foundation upon which the company is built
- Strategic Priorities – Built through an examination of company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Combined with the output of a ‘strategy canvas’ three areas that have major significance are identified.
- Strategy Map – The visualisation and interlinking of the business objectives
- Business Objectives – The primary business objectives and most importantly what the intended results are. Together with measures and targets
- Strategic Initiatives – And finally, the strategic initiatives and/projects required to achieve the strategy
- Financial Summary – the outline costs and benefits of the strategic plan
For Business2Community readers, I have included an editable copy of the template, I hope you find it useful. The template also includes a set of sample data based on a typical medium to large size company. In the appendix is a sample Integrated Strategy Map, an enormously helpful internal communication tool.