There are no shortcuts to success when it comes to driving profitable business growth. It’s hard. It’s challenging. It’s a grind. But you know what makes it even harder? Lack of guidance. No direction. No accountability. That’s why we compiled our best-of-the-best, most popular, crème de la crème strategic plan templates to help you achieve business goals faster. And they are yours—for free.
You can use these templates to make strategic plans for your business strategy, different business functions, or teams. Or you can use them as an aid in your analysis as part of the planning process.
101,347 strategy pros have already used them and added them to their strategy playbook. What are you still waiting for?
In this article, you will get:
- 18 free strategic plan templates that will help you to build a roadmap and execute it
- A quick rundown of 6 steps you shouldn't miss in strategic planning
1. Strategic Planning Template (Cascade)
If you’re looking for something more practical than clumsy spreadsheets, then you’re going to love the Strategic Planning Template—Cascade version!
Cascade template offers you a better way than Excel and other static tools. This template is packed with pre-filled examples and features that will help you create a clear roadmap with timelines, KPIs, goals, and owners. You’ll be able to bring in your team and collaborate to transform goals into results faster than ever.
And there’s more! 👀
You’ll also get access to additional features like Dashboards and Strategy Maps. This will help you pinpoint performance at any given moment and track progress so you can take corrective action before it’s too late.
You’ll be able to plan, execute, measure, and adapt your strategic plan in one place. You can even create multiple strategic plans and link them together so you have full visibility into performance.
Looking for a way to save time and automate your reports?
Cascade makes it easy for you with powerful Reports. With this template, you’ll get access to basic integrations that will help you automatically track key performance metrics and pull data into reports that can be easily customized to fit your audience's needs.
How to use this template?
Start by filling out the objectives, goals, and KPIs, and start executing your plan right away!
💡Best for: This is a general, pre-filled strategic planning template, so you can use it as inspiration and set your own strategic goals. It’s suitable for outcome-oriented teams at any level of organization. It’s also industry-agnostic and suited for companies of all sizes.
2. Strategic Plan Template (Excel)
Not feeling ready to take your strategic planning and execution to the next level?
This simple Strategic Plan Template in an Excel spreadsheet will help you fill out key elements of a strategic plan, including the vision statement, strategic objectives, and key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll be able to add an executive summary and create a one-page strategic plan you can easily share with your leadership or team members.
Download your Excel template here.
However, Excel isn’t the best way to create a strategic plan. Here’s why:
- You usually end up with multiple strategic planning documents that are difficult to align and track in real-time.
- When you are using manual methods, using spreadsheets to track performance, you run the risk of errors.
- You spend too much time collecting data and pinging your team members to collect the latest information on progress.
Excel can make it easy for you to start working on strategic planning, but you should consider the Excel alternative to streamline strategic planning and execution—Cascade, the #1 strategy execution platform designed for high-performing teams of all sizes.
3. Business Strategy Template (Cascade)
Like the general strategic planning template above, the Business Strategy Template is loaded with features that will help you achieve business goals faster.
You’ll be able to set your organization’s strategic direction, long-term goals, business objectives, and KPIs to measure progress.
This business plan template will help you communicate business priorities, break down siloed teams, and gain real-time visibility into what’s happening across the business.
💡Best for: This is a pre-filled business strategy template, so you can use it as inspiration and streamline your business planning process. It can be used by leadership teams in organizations of any size, including enterprises and startups.
4. Operations Plan Template (Cascade)
Using this template, you will be able to track all KPIs in one place.
Operations are the core engine of an organization’s performance. With this Operational Plan Template, you'll be able to plan your company's operational strategy in a way that helps your employees maximize the resources you have and gain a competitive edge.
You can build a high-level strategic plan for your operations or set goals for each of your departments. This will help you keep your teams accountable for progress and have visibility into what’s happening in your key areas.
By using Reports, you can build tailored progress reports and provide up-to-date information to your executive team at any time. This will help you save time, ensure accuracy, and build trust with your board by giving them insights into the company’s performance.
On top of that, you can link your operational plan template with the overarching business strategy. This will help you stay aligned with business goals, and your teams will have the needed context to make aligned decisions on a daily basis.
💡Best for: Chief operating officers (COOs) and operations teams that need to align day-to-day operations with strategic business goals and ensure they deliver on performance.
5. Human Resources Plan Template (Cascade)
Using this template, you’ll be able to build a customizable dashboard to track all HR projects in one place.
A strong HR Strategic Plan Template is very helpful not only in the hiring process but also in defining the workplace culture and the types of people your organization wants to work with. With this template, you can set KPIs and track progress toward set targets in real-time.
💡Best for: Business leaders, HR managers, and HR teams that need to support business goals with a clear HR roadmap.
6. Balanced Scorecard Template (Cascade)
A balanced scorecard (BSC) is a strategic planning tool that helps organizations track, monitor, and execute their business strategy.
This template will help you set goals, KPIs, and projects for each of the four perspectives within the balanced scorecard framework.
You’ll also get access to Dashboards where you can set up real-time dashboards to monitor progress within each perspective. Using the Cascade template, you will have a complete view of your balanced scorecard in one place.
💡Best for: Strategy teams, business leaders, and managers that are using a balanced scorecard methodology in their organizations.
7. OKR Template (Excel)
In recent years, OKRs have become one of the most popular performance management frameworks. Some are raving fans, and others cringe at their mention. If you fall into the first category, here's the OKR template that'll help you set and meet your OKRs.
You can use it to set OKRs at a company, team, or individual level.
💡Best for: Business and team leaders who are already familiar with the OKR framework and want to track performance.
8. Digital Transformation Plan Template (Cascade)
A digital transformation goes beyond implementing digital tools in your processes. It requires an organization-wide shift. This Digital Transformation Strategic Planning Template will help you build a digital transformation plan that takes into account all areas of your organization that need to change.
You'll be able to define focus areas, set clear goals, KPIs, and projects, which are all needed for a successful transformation.
Digital transformation is the responsibility of the whole organization. Using this template, you’ll make sure your team has the context and the right information so they can help you implement digital transformation initiatives across the organization.
Another key benefit of this template is that you’ll have all the data centralized in one place. This will help you make informed decisions and keep your digital transformation strategy from failing.
And yes, you can connect it with your favorite business tools, including Power BI, Tableau, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Microsoft Outlook.
9. IT Strategy Template (Cascade)
This Cascade IT Strategic Plan Template will help you outline your bold initiatives to transform, modernize, and optimize your IT landscape. Bring in your IT team and collaborate on shared goals.
Also, you'll be able to link your IT strategy to your business strategy and ensure the executive team understands how IT projects help achieve business goals. You’ll be able to demonstrate the interdependencies across IT initiatives that impact financial performance.
This template will help you prioritize key IT initiatives to support business outcomes and keep track of progress.
💡Best for: CTOs, CIOs, IT directors, and IT teams that are responsible for IT strategic planning and implementation.
10. Change Management Plan Template (Cascade)
Need a template to build a change management plan that will support your business strategy? Look no further.
This Change Management Plan Template will help you define a clear timeline, action steps, and clear expectations for those who will be involved in change implementation.
💡Best for: Leaders who own the change strategy and need to make a plan and monitor key metrics associated with change initiatives.
11. Digital Marketing Strategy Template (Cascade)
Create your own marketing plan and keep track of progress in one place.
Build your digital marketing plan with this free template. You’ll be able to set goals, assign owners, and track the performance of key marketing metrics. This Digital Marketing Plan Template can be your living document as you scale marketing activities and serve as a North Star for your marketing team.
💡Best for: This template is designed for marketing teams aiming to expand their presence virtually and businesses aiming to go global or gain an international customer base. Digital content creators, project management teams, social media managers, digital CRM analysts, e-commerce executives, public relations specialists, and user experience specialists might also find this template useful.
12. McKinsey's 3 Horizons Strategy Template (Cascade)
This strategic planning template is based on McKinsey’s Three Horizons Framework. It helps you organize the organization’s goals into three timeframes:
- Horizon 1: Short-term initiatives and projects that will help you achieve business goals within a few months or within a year. The focus of this horizon is to maintain and defend your core business.
- Horizon 2: This horizon focuses on extending your current business models that will pay off in 2 or 3 years.
- Horizon 3: Long-term strategic initiatives and investments that will create new business models or products in 3-5 years. Or later - depending on your strategic planning cycles.
The key benefit of the Three Horizons template is that it gives you a complete picture of your three horizons. On top of that, you'll be able to update key goals and initiatives with just a few clicks. A new update will be reflected in all subgoals or project plans that are linked. If you want to outperform your rivals or merely survive in uncertain times, you must be able to quickly adapt your strategy and plans.
💡Best for: Leadership and strategy teams who are responsible for strategic planning at a company level.
13. Retail Strategic Plan Template (Cascade)
This Retail Strategic Plan Template provides an example of a corporate strategic plan for companies in the retail industry. You can use it as inspiration to develop a strategic plan for your retail business.
💡Best for: Strategy teams and business leaders within the retail industry.
14. SWOT Analysis Template (Excel)
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.
You can also use it to perform a competitive analysis but you need to look at it through different lenses - from the competitor’s perspective.
💡Best for: Leadership, strategy teams, and other functional teams that are responsible for formulating strategies and strategic plans.
15-17. Internal Analysis Toolkit
In this collection, you will find 5 different templates to help you with internal analysis, including:
An internal analysis is an important step before drafting a strategic plan. It will help you carry out your competitive analysis, identify your current situation, and set action plans and relevant strategic goals.
💡Best for: Leadership, strategy teams, and other stakeholders that are involved in the strategic planning process.
18. VRIO Strategy Template (Cascade)
What’s the point of analysis if you don't use those insights to solve your business problem?
VRIO analysis helps you look at your resources and skills to see where your business is lacking. This is important if you want your business to build a sustainable competitive advantage.
Once you’ve found your gaps, you need to make a plan and set goals that will help you develop the missing resources and capabilities.
This VRIO Strategy Template will help you set clear strategic objectives, assign KPIs, and monitor performance so you can gain a competitive advantage and a market leadership position.
💡Best for: Strategy teams, COOs, and portfolio managers who are in charge of business development and business strategic planning.
👀 Did you find what you were looking for? If not, you can explore our template library with 100+ strategy templates that will assist you in planning and executing your strategy. You can select between various strategic planning templates tailored for business leaders, specific departments, or industries.
6 Steps You Shouldn't Miss 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 strategic planning process.
Step 1: Craft Your 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 is "an Apple computer on every desk in the world."
📚Recommended reading: How To Write A Good Vision Statement
Step 2: Identify Core Values
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 in your strategy—your people.
When creating company values, if you find yourself struggling to come up with core 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's values.
📚Recommended reading: How to Create Company Values.
Step 3: Choose Your Focus Areas
Focus Areas are the foundation stones of your strategy. They expand on your vision and mission 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.
📚Recommended reading: Strategic Focus Areas: How To Create Them + Examples
Step 4: Define Strategic Objectives
Strategic objectives are high-level statements that outline what exactly you want to achieve, with a clearly stated deadline.
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.
In short, strategic objectives should be:
- Easy to remember
- Easily understood by everyone in the organization
Try to keep them as short as 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.
📚Recommended reading: How to Write Strategic Objectives.
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 issue with strategic plans is that they never get into the specifics of what you're 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 or review.
📚Recommended reading: How To Create Effective Projects.
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. Here’s a short recap of the step-by-step process to write KPIs that will allow you to create the perfect measurable metrics every time:
- Determine strategic objectives
- Define success
- Decide on measurement
- Write your SMART KPIs
📚Recommended reading: How to write KPIs.
Use Cascade To Plan And Execute Your Strategy 🚀
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.
Multiple spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations buried deep somewhere on the company's server are a thing of the past. Result-driven teams need tools that help them collaborate in real time while staying aligned with the company’s overall strategy.
Here’s what you get with Cascade:
- A single home for your strategic plans and sub-plans in an easy-to-use digital solution
- Simple tracking of progress and goals that can cascade down and back up
- Live status updates for goals and KPIs to drive informed and quick decisions based on your team's activity and progress
- More than 1000+ integrations with your favorite business tools, including Teams, Jira, Airtable, Microsoft Outlook, Teams, Power BI, and many more
Streamline your strategic planning process with our tested and proven strategic plan templates.
What is the purpose of a strategic plan?
A strategic plan helps you build a roadmap to get your business or team from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future. It provides strategic clarity to all involved stakeholders, so they can make informed decisions on a daily basis.
How do you write a strategic plan?
One of the most effective ways to write your strategic plan is to choose one of the strategic planning models and follow step-by-step instructions. Read more in this in-depth overview of the 5 best strategic planning models.
What are the 7 elements of a strategic plan?
The seven elements of a corporate strategic plan are vision, values, focus areas, objectives, KPIs, projects, and initiatives. You can write a strategic plan for a team or department focusing only on five key elements—without vision and values.