Successful strategies are built on a strategic plan that outlines how your company or team will achieve its long-term goals. It’s a clear roadmap that explains to all stakeholders how will you get from the present state to desired future state.
In this article, you will get:
- A free strategic plan template
- A quick rundown of 6 steps you shouldn't miss in strategic planning
- BONUS strategic plan templates for specific departments and needs
Free Strategic Plan Template
This strategic plan template is in Excel format and will walk you through 6 steps involved in creating a strategic plan tab-by-tab.
Here’s what you will get with Cascade’s strategic plan template:
- A quick, easy-to-fill template with sample entries for each section
- A clear and structured approach to the strategic planning process
- A complete strategic plan from vision statements, strategic objectives, and KPIs
- Input for an executive summary of your strategic plan
- One-page strategic plan you can easily share with your leadership or team members
How to use this template?
- Download it here & open it in Excel (it also works in Google Spreadsheets)
- Work through each tab
- The final tab will automatically output a beautifully formatted strategic plan that you can save, export, or even upload into our online strategy tool Cascade.
At the bottom of each tab in the strategic plan template, we've also referenced our detailed guides on each section to help you create the perfect strategic plan.
6 Step Strategic Planning Process
Our template covers all 6 important steps in the strategic planning process. Here’s a short recap of each step so you know what to keep in mind before diving deep into the planning process.
Step 1: Vision Statement
The first tab of the strategic plan template will assist you in creating the perfect vision statement. The vision statement is the anchor point of any strategic plan and will guide the direction of the rest of your plan.
The vision statement should be a memorable and inspirational summary that describes your reason for existence as an organization – one that will help to motivate existing employees and even attract high-quality new ones.
A few questions you should ask yourself to test your vision:
- Does it communicate why we exist?
- Is it tangible?
- Will it inspire our people?
- Can it be easily memorized?
A good example of a clear and tangible vision statement- 'An apple computer on every desk in the world.
There’s also an extra field to add a mission statement if you want to.
If you want a more detailed guide on creating a vision statement, check out our comprehensive guide: How To Write A Good Vision Statement
Step 2: Values
The second tab of the strategic plan template will allow you to input the core values of your organization. While company values can often be overlooked or considered 'just for show', our view is different.
We see Values as a critical part of the strategic planning process – the reason being, that they go right to the heart of the most important ingredient of your strategy – your people.
When creating company values, if you find yourself struggling to come up with values that truly resonate with your company, think about your next hire:
- What type of behaviors and mindset are you looking for?
- Are there personality traits that will help the new person to work well with the rest of the team?
- What type of individual potential will be most useful for the greater good of the organization?
Asking yourself these questions will help you to hone in on some common themes and hopefully define your company values.
If you're still struggling to define your organizational values, check out our detailed guide on Creating Organizational Values.
Step 3: Focus Areas
The third tab of the strategic plan template will help you to create the focus areas of your company. Focus Areas are the foundation stones of your strategy.
They expand on your Vision Statement and start to create some structure around how to actually get your organization to achieve its goals.
We usually recommend anywhere between 3-6 focus areas, any more and it will become difficult to focus on all of them.
When creating your strategic focus areas we advise keeping 4 rules in mind-
- No longer than 6 words each - if you can’t distill your focus into 6 words or less, keep refining it until you can – it needs to be simple and memorable.
- Be specific - Don’t cheat by creating broad Focus Areas like ‘Be profitable’ unless this really is a specific focus (e.g. for new startups) – this defeats the point of the exercise and doesn’t help you to focus at all!
- No jargon - Avoid ambiguous terms like ‘maximize’ or ‘succeed’ – state what you are trying to achieve an outcome, not how you are going to do it.
- No metrics - Conversely, it might be tempting to add specific targets or metrics to your Focus Areas, avoid this. Metrics will absolutely come into play for your plan, but not at this stage. Keep things high level for now, but still, outcome-focused.
If you'd like to get a detailed guide on focus areas, be sure to check out Creating Strategic Focus Areas
Step 4: Strategic Objectives
Strategic Objectives are high-level statements that outline what exactly you want to achieve, with a clearly stated deadline. It differs from a Focus Area - in that it is specific in what you want to achieve, has a deadline attached, and once completed will be replaced by another, different objective.
In other words, it is something that can be tangibly achieved. Your strategic objectives should be attached and contribute to achieving at least one of your Strategic Focus Areas.
Keeping things simple is the best advice for writing strategic objectives.
In short, strategic objectives should be:
- Easy to remember
- Easily understood by everyone in the organization
Try to keep them as short as possible (if possible), and avoid jargon. You can add more detail if needed, but you should be able to sum up what you want to accomplish as quickly and simply as possible.
These are key elements of a good strategic objective:
Action + Detail + Deadline
Here’s an example:
Create the standard for quality bikes by 31st of December 2020
Starting off with a verb forces you to be specific about what you're trying to do, and ensuring you include a deadline will help you to stay on track with progress.
You can grab out your detailed guide on How To Write Strategic Objectives here.
Step 5: Assign projects
Projects describe what you will do to accomplish your objectives. It is at this point in your strategic planning process that you will start to scope out exactly what actions you will take in order to achieve certain objectives.
A common problem area for strategic plans is that they never quite get down to the detail of what you're actually going to do.
It's way too easy to simply state 'we need to grow our business' - without concrete projects, those plans will sit forevermore within their PowerPoint templates, never to see the light of day after their initial creation/review.
Learn more about writing effective projects here.
Step 6: Set KPIs
KPIs are a necessary component of managing any business, whether public, private, or non-profit. This is because KPIs allow you to determine whether you're behind, on track, ahead, or have achieved your strategic objectives.
Your organization's business model, industry, and even the department in which you operate will have an impact on the type of KPI you need. Luckily, we've devised a best practice process for how to write KPIs that will allow you to create the perfect KPIs every time.
- Determine strategic objectives
- Define success
- Decide on measurement
- Write your SMART KPIs
Bonus free strategic plan templates
Here’s a collection of the most popular templates on our website. The templates can be used to make strategic plans for specific departments or to aid in your analysis as part of the planning process.
Operations Plan Template
This template will help you to build a well-defined approach to operations management, the people in your company can maximize the available resources to gain a competitive advantage.
Our Operations Plan Template will help you to build a strategic plan and track progress towards key business objectives. In the end, you will be able to streamline your operations and maximize efficiency.
Using this template, you will be able to auto-track all KPIs in one place.
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to use OKR methodology or any other strategy framework, this template is completely customizable with 1000+ integrations to track your KPIs.
Digital Marketing Strategy Template
Build your marketing plan with this free template. It is designed for marketing teams aiming to expand their presence virtually and businesses aiming to go global/ gain an international customer base.
Some other professions that might find this template useful are digital content producers, project management teams, social media managers, digital CRM analysts, e-commerce executives, public relations specialists, and user experience specialists.
Create your own strategic plan and keep track of progress in one place.
Human Resources Strategy Template
Having a good HR strategic plan template goes a long way in not only the hiring process but setting out the culture of the workforce and the type of people your organization wants to be associated with. With this template, you’ll be able to set important KPIs and track progress toward set targets in real-time.
Using this template, you’ll be able to build a customizable dashboard to track all HR projects in one place.
SWOT Analysis Template
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps you identify the internal strengths, weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats that can impact the organization’s growth initiatives and pursuit of its goals.
Internal Analysis Toolkit
In this collection, you will find 5 different templates to help you with internal analysis:
- Gap Analysis Template
- SWOT Analysis Template
- VRIO Analysis Template
- McKinsey 7S Framework Template
- Core Competencies Analysis Template
An internal analysis is an important step before drafting a strategic plan. It will help you to carry out your competitive analysis, identify your current situation, and set action plans and relevant strategic goals.
Embrace a collaborative approach to strategic planning
The days of building strategies behind closed doors in the boardroom are over. You shouldn't be surprised by that.
In times where agile and resilient companies lead the way, leaders should strive to get the strategy out of the boardroom and inspire teams to deliver it. This is how you build a growth culture with high-performing staff.
The first thing you can do is involve your team members in the strategic planning process. By doing so, each team member will be more accountable and perform better since they will understand how their daily efforts fit into the big picture and how they contribute to success as a whole.
Download your strategic plan template free and embrace teamwork to build a roadmap to success.