Need a helping hand to create your strategic plan? Download our tried and tested strategic planning template - the same template used by thousands of startups and multinationals alike. Our strategic plan template will help you to create a complete strategy, from your vision statement through to your values, your focus areas, strategic objectives, projects, and KPIs. You'll also want to check out our guide to strategic planning that you use to help you populate this template.
The strategic plan template is in Microsoft Excel format and will walk you through the steps involved in creating a strategic plan tab-by-tab. In the end, you'll have a simple, clean, and elegant one-page strategic plan that you can print, share or even upload into our strategy platform Cascade.
To use the strategic plan template, just download it, fire up Excel then work through each tab in turn. 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.
The strategic plan template is quick and easy to fill out and can be used in workshops or team meetings. It comes with sample entries for each section so you can get an understanding of how best to complete the template. 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.
What to expect in the strategic plan template?
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
If you want a more detailed guide on creating a vision statement, check out our comprehensive guide: How To Write A Good Vision Statement
The second tab of the strategic plan template will allow you to input the strategic 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.
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 - Long-winded Focus Areas are an oxymoron – 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.
- Not too broad - 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 view a detailed guide on focus areas, be sure to check out Creating Strategic Focus Areas
Strategic Objectives are the 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.
The main advice here when writing strategic objectives is to keep things simple. Strategic Objectives should be easy to remember and should be understandable by everyone within the organization. That means no jargon (if possible), and keeping them to one sentence long. You can add more detail of course, but you should be able, to sum up what you want to achieve quickly and simply.
We suggest a structure as follows:
Action + Detail + Deadline
In other words:
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 check out our detailed guide on How To Write Strategic Objectives here
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
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
If you like to learn more about our 4 step process, check out this guide.
The strategic plan template will help you to create all the elements of a strategic plan, and by the end, you will have a beautifully formatted strategic plan document that you can download, share, or save. If you need any help at all using our free strategic plan template, don't hesitate to get in touch via the comments below and we'll do our best to help you create the perfect strategic plan. Download today and let us know what you think!