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10 Free Strategic Planning Templates in ClickUp, Word, and Excel

Praburam Srinivasan

Growth Marketing Manager

February 13, 2024

Strategic planning is among the most important processes in any business. It builds the roadmap for the future, creating a framework against which every major business decision can be made and weighed.

But its importance goes beyond that as well. Every type of business planning, from action plans to sprint plans and resource planning , ultimately derives from the larger strategic plan. That means one thing above all: you have to get your strategic planning process right.

To get there, you need to start somewhere. The many resources related to planning are a great start. But even more specifically, you need a template that can help you plug in information, digest that information, and come up with a plan that everyone in the organization can follow.

What exactly that ideal template looks like depends on your needs and existing software. That’s why in this guide, we’re sharing our 10 favorite free strategic planning templates you can start using (almost) immediately.

What is a Strategic Planning Template?

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A strategic planning template is a roadmap to your business roadmap. It provides business leaders with the exact steps needed to build a plan that can outline the near- and long-term future of the business.

At its best, the template is a measurable tool that everyone involved in the planning process can follow. It helps you solidify where you are, and where you want to go.

And, just as importantly, it helps you consolidate that information into an actionable, measurable, and easy-to-process strategic plan that everyone in the organization can use.

Product Roadmap Example in ClickUp Timeline View

Of course, there is no simple  best business strategy template. Just like a project plan can differ from a product roadmap , you’ll need a template that matches the way you work and the type of planning you’re doing.

That’s why this guide highlights not just one, but 10 free planning templates to cover a variety of needs.

A good strategic planning template accomplishes a few key goals:

  • It establishes a clear timeline for the planning process
  • It outlines the goals of the strategic plan and derives any actions and strategies from those goals
  • It clearly outlines the individual tactics and overall business strategy underlying those goals
  • It establishes a way to measure the progress and outcomes of implementing the plan
  • It outlines clear responsibilities for individual tasks related to the planning process
  • It provides check-in points and opportunities for the team to review and adjust as needed
  • It’s customizable enough to make tweaks that can make the plan more relevant for your organization and business planning process

Most importantly, though, the strategic plan template streamlines the entire process. Whereas in processes like capacity planning , details matter above all, business strategy planning should focus on a broader viewpoint that helps every stakeholder involved quickly gain an overview of the plan and its connection to the business.

10 Strategic Planning Templates to Use for Your Team

If every strategic plan has the same goals, you might think that most of them are nearly identical. You’d be surprised.

Much like project planning , different templates can lead to very different outcomes. That’s why it’s best to consider a few free strategic planning templates before selecting the one that works best for your business and situation. To help you get started, these are our 10 favorites to use for your next strategic plan.

ClickUp Strategic Roadmap List Template

It’s a basic template with potential power behind it. ClickUp’s Strategic Roadmap List Template helps you visualize how your organization can get through its strategic plam, with custom fields ranging from the duration of individual tasks to the progress of those tasks, their impact, and their ease of implementation.

Within ClickUp, you’ll be able to view your Strategic Roadmap as a progress view. But, once tasks and deadlines are assigned to individual tasks, you’ll also be able to see a timeline or even workload view to ensure continued progress. While it’s a primarily list-based template, we especially enjoy the Gantt chart as a way to see how the individual tasks interact with each other regarding the larger timeline.

ClickUp Strategic Roadmap Timeline Template

If you’re thinking of your strategic planning as basically bridging the gap between your company’s present and desired future state, this is the template for you. It’s more complex than the list-based template mentioned above, providing you with a more nuanced strategic roadmap once built.

ClickUp’s Strategic Roadmap Timeline Template defaults to a Gantt chart with sections for individual departments. From there, you can view a progress board and outline your current capacity. Meanwhile, a number of custom fields help you better plan through each of these efforts:

  • Completion %
  • Expected Outcome
  • Strategy Progress
  • Team Members

It might not be the right template if you’re just getting started with strategic planning. But for experienced leaders looking to take that planning process to the next level, it’s just the right outline.

ClickUp Grand Strategy Matrix Template

It’s simple but beautiful. ClickUp’s Grand Strategy Matrix Template allows you to build a four-quadrant view of the strategic environment surrounding your organization, with a framework designed to help you understand what the path to your organization’s future might look like.

How you get to that path, of course, is up to you. The quadrants can be used for a simple SWOT analysis or for more complex planning processes, like finding market growth niches and opportunities in a tight competitive environment. Some of these options are pre-built into the template, while others can be customized to match your exact marketing plan or whatever else you need your strategic planning process to be.

ClickUp Strategic Plan Whiteboard Template

For the visual thinkers among us, this ClickUp’s Strategic Plan Whiteboard Template is a perfect choice. Above all, it’s a visual road map that easily shows not just what steps are necessary for strategic planning, but also how those steps can (and should) flow into each other in the context of the larger project.

Of course, you can still assign different tasks and stages to individual members of the team to keep responsibilities intact and obvious. But the template’s flowchart nature and whiteboard feel also mean you can seamlessly adjust the process as needed.

The chart’s color coding ensures that anyone working on it keeps a clear overview of what’s needed and when.

ClickUp Strategic Marketing Plan Template

A strategic plan isn’t just relevant organization-wide. A solid business strategy is just as important for individual units, and this template shows just how those differences can manifest themselves.

Think of this ClickUp’s Strategic Marketing Plan Template as a more practical opportunity to plan your marketing efforts. The default list view is sorted by the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method, sorting tasks into defined overarching objectives for the larger marketing effort. 

But that’s only the beginning. Custom fields allow you to define the channels through which you’ll approach executing the plan, while the timeline view helps you keep track of progress. And of course, the Progress Board allows you to see how those stages you’ve defined ultimately lead to achieving your strategic goals.

ClickUp Event Strategic Plan Template

Planning an event is hard work, and countless tasks will need need to be accomplished to ensure its success. A strategic plan template for that event, on the other hand, can keep a clear overview of the tasks needed and accomplished, and how everything connects to achieve core goals.

ClickUp’s Event Strategic Plan Template accomplishes that through a wide range of custom fields, from channel to budget, hashtags, the voice used, and more. It’s designed to plan multiple events at once, all overlapping to create an event-based strategy that helps to elevate your business or your marketing strategy.

Because of the complexities involved, we’re especially fond of the board-based Event Status view. This strategic plan template has a simple overview of where all events stand, and what still needs to be done.

Of course, the list and calendar-based views can also be helpful to get into some of the deeper nuances of event planning.

ClickUp Action Plan Template

Strategic planning is not universally liked, in part because it tends toward the theoretical. Goals and tasks alike tend to be lofty for a true business strategy, focusing on the 30,000-foot view rather than the on-the-ground needs of the organization or your business partners.

That’s a major reason why we love ClickUp’s Action Plan Template . It’s a note-based system that folds all necessary tasks to move your strategic plan forward into three sections:

Within that structure, tasks are separated into daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews to account for their varying complexities and timelines. The result is a simple overview of everything that needs to be done, which also does a great job highlighting existing successes and accomplished tasks for the entire team to see and celebrate. Now that’s a strategic plan.

ProjectManager Strategic Plan Template for Word

What if we told you that you can build a strategic plan entirely in MS Word? That’s what this template seeks to accomplish, through easy-to-digest sections all designed to streamline the business strategy as much as possible:

  • An executive summary that introduces the context and background of the strategic plan.
  • A spot for your vision and mission statements to anchor your plan into your organization’s core being.
  • A SWOT analysis to take an honest look at your organization and its environment (think vision statement)
  • Business goals to define exactly what the strategic plan should accomplish
  • A marketing plan that outlines the promotional side of the business strategy to hit those goals
  • An operations plan that serves as the actionable road map toward achieving your goals
  • Financial projections of the future with the goals for the business strategy (and business growth)
  • The team that will be responsible for executing the strategic, marketing, and operational plan

Keep in mind that this plan is customizable to match your needs. It requires a bit more manual work than some of the other examples shared in this guide but can provide a nice overview of the plan you’re building.

Slide Team Roadmap Timeline PowerPoint Template

If part of your strategic planning process includes presentations for stakeholders (and for most organizations, it does), why not go straight to the software in which those presentations will eventually happen?

This template is, at its core, a roadmap timeline similar to others we’ve discussed above. This business strategy template focuses on the individual milestones needed to get from goal setting all the way to execution. But it’s designed specifically for PowerPoint, with customization options that make it easy to dive in and tweak.

The download is free and easy, and customization only requires basic PowerPoint skills. The timeline is set to one year by default, so you might need to make some tweaks if your strategic plan spans multiple years across your vision statement.

Eloquens Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement Excel Template

MS Excel is not always user-friendly, but its cell-based build has enormous customization potential. It’s no surprise, then, that our final template on Excel is also one of the most comprehensive options in this guide for your business strategy needs.

The worksheet itself divides into three areas or tabs:

  • Goal identification to identify key elements like goals for your organization through focused brainstorming.
  • Goal setting, using the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) business strategy template for business goals.
  • Action planning, converting those goals into tactics, and tracking the progress of those tactics towards attaining your goals.

Keep in mind that, thanks to its MS Excel nature, this is largely an internal planning document and not designed for external presentation. But within that context, the key elements of this business strategy template can be immensely helpful to get and keep your strategic planning on track.

Organizations: Whether it’s a non-profit, start-up, or multinational corporation, organizations across the board benefit from strategic planning. Such a plan offers a clear framework for decision-making, provides a roadmap for growth, identifies potential opportunities and risks, and facilitates better communication throughout the organization.

  • Non-profit Organization Strategic Plan
  • Startup Founders Strategic Plan
  • Organizational Development Strategic Plan
  • Healthcare Organization Strategic Plan

Leadership Teams: The leadership of any organization greatly benefits from strategic planning as it gives them a bird’s eye view of their organization’s existing state as well as a vision of where they intend to be. It helps identify key goals and objectives and set benchmarks to track progress.

  • Team Leaders Strategic Plan
  • Leadership Development Strategic Plan
  • Community Leaders Strategic Plan
  • Directors Strategic Plan

Supercharge Your Strategic Planning With ClickUp

It’s impossible to build a strategic plan in isolation. No matter the organization, chances are it’s a team effort. So why not expand that team to include the right tools? 

This is not an exaggeration: the right strategic planning template can make or break the process for you. Whether you’re trying to hit business objectives, run competitive analysis , or perform SWOT analysis, a clear outline lets easily build a plan that the entire organization can follow.

And when that template is free? All the better.

And here’s the best part: the software powering most of the templates we’ve shared above, ClickUp, is free to try as well. It’s a project management and productivity tool built for teams, which works out perfectly if that project is your next plan to create your overall business strategy. 

Ready to get started? Try ClickUp for free today.

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15 FREE Strategic Plan Templates for 2024

15 FREE Strategic Plan Templates for 2024

Get access to 15 of our free strategic plan templates for 2024, designed to streamline your planning process. Contact us for more information!

The basis of strategic planning is simple: Your organization is at point A. You need to get to point B in three to five years. What are you going to do to make that happen?

‍ Creating this vision is straightforward (and usually pretty fun). But actually managing the strategic plan that executes this vision isn’t always simple...or fun. In fact, looking at your strategic plan on a regular basis throughout the year and actually taking the steps to achieve the plan described above is something that tangles up many organizations.

I’ve been in this business over 20 years and one of my first tips would be to start with a solid strategic plan template instead of trying to start from scratch.

To streamline this crucial process, ClearPoint Strategy offers an intuitive solution that empowers you to create, manage, and execute your strategic plans with ease. Our software provides a comprehensive suite of tools designed to help you develop detailed strategic plans and track their implementation seamlessly.

See ClearPoint Strategy in action! Click here to watch a quick DEMO on the software

What is a strategic plan template.

‍ It’s a premade tool you can use to flesh out the various elements of your strategy—a technique that allows you to follow the example of others, without having to recreate each component from scratch.

One important thing to remember: Using templates doesn’t mean using someone else’s strategy. Rather, it means building your own strategic plan using the template as a jumping-off point.

But trust us—trying to put together a strategic plan, strategy map, or Balanced Scorecard sans template is a whole lot harder. Why do that when you can leverage other people’s experience, and then focus on making a strategy of your own?

Below are our 15 most popular strategic plan templates. And by popular, we mean these resources have been downloaded a total of 350,000 times. Each was created with a different audience in mind, so take a look at the descriptions below to determine which ones are best for your organization.

Only 5% of employees understand their company’s strategy   Make sure everyone sees the full picture. Use ClearPoint’s user-friendly interface to clarify and communicate your company’s goals.

15 FREE and Easy-to-Use Strategic Plan Templates

1. strategy execution toolkit.

‍ Your strategic planning process could be described as anything from a bit of a circus to an absolute nightmare. Your purpose statement is outdated, your goals are disjointed, and your leadership team is in different stages of frustration or dismay. You’re ready for change but aren’t exactly sure how to get started.

‍ Does the following sound like your situation?

If you can relate to that scenario, then this strategic plan template is about to become your best friend. It’s a detailed, 41-page process manual that guides you through the steps of pulling together your Balanced Scorecard. In the end, you’ll have a filled-out strategy map template and see a light at the end of the strategic planning tunnel.

Claim your FREE 41-page Strategy Execution Toolkit for enhanced strategic performance here

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2. Balanced Scorecard Template [Excel]

‍ If you’re familiar with the ClearPoint blog, you’ve no doubt read about using Excel for reporting or as a Balanced Scorecard template. While it’s essentially free, simple enough to use, and familiar to most people, there are challenges involved ranging from data entry errors to collaboration difficulties if you choose Excel for your reporting.

That said, if you’re just getting started with the Balanced Scorecard, compiling your data in Excel may be a logical first step before migrating to more robust scorecarding software. Sound like your situation? Sweet. Then this no-nonsense, single-page Excel scorecard will be right up your alley.

It allows you to visualize how your measures and objectives are connected (and how/if they’re in line with your strategy), and track your KPI targets to make sure you’ll meet your goals.

Claim your FREE Balanced Scorecard Excel template for better strategic management here

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3. Financial KPI Library

We’ll give you one guess as to which type of metrics are the most commonly used. If you said “financial,” you’d be right.

As the old saying goes, numbers never lie and this couldn’t be more true than with financial KPIs. These indicators are important for every type of organization because they reveal clear, indisputable truths about progress. You can see if you’re reaching or missing your goals, and why. Plus, you have the means to compare your success to competitors and determine if you’re above or below the bar that’s been set for your industry.

Which specific financial KPIs should you monitor? Well, that can be tricky and it really depends on the goals and priorities of your organization. To give you somewhere to start, we gathered a huge list of financial indicators you can choose from—all of them will help you operate more strategically instead of relying on guesstimates.

This KPI library includes 68 important financial KPIs and descriptions of each, which you can download in a user-friendly Excel format.

Download your FREE eBook on 68 effective financial KPIs you should use for better strategic insights here

‍ downloaded 40,500 times, 4. hr kpi library.

‍ HR metrics provide a different perspective on your performance than financial metrics, but they’re just as useful: HR metrics help organizations make the important people-related decisions—around hiring, turnover, culture, employee performance, etc.—that have a direct effect on organizational performance.

Having the ability to hire and retain the right talent is often regarded as one of the greatest predictors of organizational success. Additionally, HR metrics are useful for keeping staff focused on activities that support the department’s—and the company’s—overall goals.

The HR metrics you choose should be tied to your business goals, so you won’t want to use anywhere near the 48 HR KPIs in this resource! Determine the critical few KPIs that are in line with your strategy—perhaps one for every major HR goal and people management issue or opportunity—so you can focus on following through.

Get your FREE 48 Human Capital KPI library for effective HR strategy here

Downloaded 37,800 times, 5. customer kpi library.

‍ It won’t surprise you that another KPI library is our fifth most popular strategic plan template. These KPI lists are go-to resources when you need straightforward, specific advice you can implement immediately.

The Customer KPI Library is no different. Virtually all organizations have customers, clients, citizens, or consumers they need to keep happy, which requires understanding their needs and behaviors. Monitoring and measuring the right indicators will help you dial in to shifting customer demands, so you can exceed expectations and address any negative perceptions before they snowball.

This resource includes 53 valuable customer KPIs, with definitions, in an accessible Excel format.

Access your FREE eBook on 53 important customer KPIs for enhanced customer satisfaction here

Downloaded 25,800 times, 6. strategic planning templates.

‍ There’s no single right way to chart a path to achieving your goals; in fact, there are plenty! All strategic planning models are designed for the same purpose, they just have different ways of getting you there. In this download, we compiled templates for eight of the most popular strategic planning frameworks into one Excel document. You don't need to (and shouldn't) use all of them, but check them out and choose the template that works best for your organization.

Templates included:

  • Balanced Scorecard
  • Strategy Map
  • SWOT Analysis
  • PEST Analysis
  • Gap Planning
  • Blue Ocean Analysis
  • VRIO Analysis
  • Porter’s Five Forces

Claim your FREE eBook on 8 effective strategic planning templates here

7. 5 for-profit strategy maps.

Jeopardy! juggernaut Ken Jennings once said, “Even before you understand them, your brain is drawn to maps.” He’s right—we are drawn to them (nearly 24,000 times, in this case!). Whether they’re depicting elevations and landscapes or goals and strategies, maps are intriguing and memorable because they convey a lot of information with simple graphics.

For companies, maps are incredibly valuable tools to organize, explain, and communicate strategies. A Balanced Scorecard is one of the most common formats for strategy maps and an effective way to stay focused on your goals. Sometimes seeing is believing, so we pulled together five examples of strategy maps from real-life, for-profit companies in four different industries. Check them out to get ideas for your own organization.

Get your FREE eBook with Balance Scorecard strategy maps for better strategic visualization here

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8. Healthcare KPI Library

‍ Not many businesses can say that the quality of their products or services could literally mean the difference between life and death, but for healthcare organizations, it’s the truth. On top of that, change is a constant in healthcare—there’s always a new regulation just around the corner. For both these reasons, performance monitoring is a must.

A healthcare KPI helps you understand how your organization is performing across a multitude of areas, from patient care and operations to finances and community relations. A good KPI should be well defined, quantifiable, and crucial to achieving your strategic goals. This resource includes more than 100 sample healthcare metrics as examples—choose the ones that are relevant to your organization’s needs, or use them as inspiration for measuring progress toward your own unique objectives.

Download your FREE 108 healthcare KPI library to improve your organizational performance here

Downloaded 20,900 times, 9. healthcare strategy maps.

‍ For-profits aren’t the only ones that benefit from using strategy maps—medical and healthcare organizations can, too. The trick is to create a map that isn’t overly complicated, yet still manages to clearly convey the key “landmarks” that will define your future success.

It can be hard to know what that looks like in practice, so we gathered a few Balanced Scorecard strategy map examples from the healthcare field and included them in this download. The information presented in this offering pertains specifically to the various types of healthcare systems and institutions.

Save your FREE eBook with 4 sample Strategy Maps for healthcare organizations here

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10. Measure & Goal Evaluation Toolkit

‍ Next question: Are you able to objectively evaluate your measures and goals?

‍ In other words, can you keep emotion out of your evaluations? Do you know if you’re really executing well on your strategy from the data you’re gathering?

‍ If you’re even a bit hesitant on this, try this toolkit . You’ll learn about establishing RAG statuses, automating the evaluation process, and helping leadership make better choices. (Note that having goals and measures is a prerequisite for this toolkit to be helpful.)

Claim your FREE Measure & Goal Evaluation Toolkit for streamlined analysis here

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11. The All-Inclusive Strategy Reporting Guide

‍ Creating a solid internal reporting process is no easy task. But it’s also incredibly important to outline how reporting should be done in your organization, ranging from scorecard management to meeting preparation. Without proper reporting, you won’t be able to track progress, pinpoint problems, or achieve goals.

‍ Not sure how to tackle this big job? Check out this all-inclusive guide, which includes best practices on strategic reporting and policy. It explains the strategic planning process and gives tips on how to create a successful reporting guide. You’ll have all the information you need to create a reporting process that works.

Get your FREE Strategy Reporting guide to impactful management reporting

Downloaded 11,300 times, 12. nonprofit strategy maps.

‍ To advance their mission, nonprofits and charitable organizations should also engage in strategic planning. Like for-profit companies, strategy maps for nonprofits serve as a communication tool that engages internal teams and even community members, helping to rally everyone behind the shared mission. This download includes a few strategy map best practices, as well as a number of useful examples for social and public-sector organizations.

Download your FREE eBook with 5 Strategy Maps for Nonprofits & Charities

Downloaded 9,900 times, 13. project management field guide.

‍ Most of the work being done at organizations today is project-based, which is why the demand for project managers has risen rapidly in recent years. (It’s also the reason why good project management matters.)

But before you worry about things like budgets and timelines, it’s crucial to take a step back and make sure you’re managing the right projects—the ones that align with your strategy and will actually help you achieve your organization’s goals.

If your organization is trying to learn more about strategic project management, use this download as your “getting started” guide. It will help you think through your approach to projects, including how to define and prioritize them, and make sure they link back to your strategy. This ebook is chock full of pro tips and helpful examples that will take your project management skills to the next level.

Access your FREE Project Management Field Guide for project success

Downloaded 7,400 times, 14. gantt chart template [excel].

‍ Gantt charts help you visually lay out the length and progress of a particular project all in one place. They’re very helpful in project management—and this Excel template makes it a cinch to create one!

This template is a great way to get your team on the same page for what is on track and off track, and it will help you facilitate a discussion about what to do for next steps. You’ll get some instructions and directions for the template, details on initiatives and supporting milestones, and a graph that auto-populates to show progress toward your goals.

Claim your FREE Gantt Chart Excel template for effective project tracking

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15. How To Lead Effective Strategy Review Meetings

‍ Too many meetings are all talk and no action. A lot of great ideas may be floated around, but they just disappear when everyone leaves the room. Strategy review meetings are notorious for this “disappearing act” because many of the topics are high-level and visionary, which can be challenging to break down into specific execution steps.

‍ The ability to make strategy review meetings useful is a skill—a skill you can easily learn if you think your reviews are going off the rails too often. There are several key elements to focus on and they are all included in this 40-page book, aptly titled “How To Lead Effective Strategy Review Meetings.” You’ll read about the best structure for strategy meetings, tips for creating action items, and pitfalls to avoid.

Download your FREE 40-page eBook to lead effective Strategy Review Meetings here

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Before you start filling out your shiny new strategic planning templates, let’s just lay this out flat:

Don’t Fill Out One of These Strategic Plan Templates and Then Forget About It...

I know what you’re thinking; you’re not going to fall into that trap.

But even if that’s not your intention, it will take time and considerable effort to keep your new template in use across the organization. One way to ensure it is actually helpful to you (and not just a nice thumbnail on your desktop) is to get buy-in from your senior leadership team. This could take time, but once you have an advocate in that group, you’ll help create more buy-in across the organization. In no time you’ll be the hero of strategic planning in your company.

Turn Strategic Planning Into Strategic Success with ClearPoint Strategy Software

Struggling with strategic planning? You're not alone. Experience firsthand how ClearPoint Strategy can transform the complex process of strategic execution into a streamlined, manageable experience. During our personalized demo, we'll guide you through the robust features and functionalities that make ClearPoint the preferred choice for leaders who are serious about moving from vision to reality.

Enhance your strategy maps, optimize your Balanced Scorecards, and execute your strategic goals more effectively. With ClearPoint Strategy , you gain the tools and insights necessary to make strategic planning not just simpler, but also more impactful.

‍ Book your demo today and start your journey towards clear, actionable, and successful strategic outcomes!

How do you write a strategic plan?

To write a strategic plan:

- Define Vision and Mission: Start with clear statements of your organization's vision and mission. - Conduct a SWOT Analysis: Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. - Set Strategic Goals: Establish long-term goals that align with your vision and mission. - Develop Objectives: Create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for each goal. - Formulate Strategies: Outline strategies and actions needed to achieve your objectives. - Allocate Resources: Determine the resources required, including budget, personnel, and technology. - Implement and Monitor: Develop an implementation plan with timelines and assign responsibilities. Monitor progress regularly and adjust as needed.

What is an example of a strategic plan?

An example of a strategic plan: - Vision: To be the leading provider of healthcare services in the region. - Mission: To improve health and well-being through compassionate and quality care. - Strategic Goals: Broad, long-term aims that the organization seeks to achieve. - Enhance Patient Care: I mprove patient satisfaction scores by 20% in the next two years. - Objectives: Implement patient feedback systems, train staff in customer service. - Strategies: Conduct quarterly surveys, offer ongoing training programs. - Expand Services: Increase the number of specialty clinics from 3 to 5 within three years. - Objectives: Open two new clinics by the end of year three. - Strategies: Secure funding, hire specialist doctors, market new services. - Improve Efficiency: Reduce operational costs by 15% over the next two years. - Objectives: Streamline administrative processes, adopt new technologies. - Strategies: Implement electronic health records, conduct process audits.

What are the primary components of a strategic plan?

The primary components of a strategic plan include:

- Vision Statement: A future-oriented declaration of the organization's purpose and aspirations. - Mission Statement: A concise explanation of the organization's reason for existence and its core purpose. - SWOT Analysis: An assessment of the organization's internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats. - Strategic Goals: Broad, long-term aims that the organization seeks to achieve. - Objectives: Specific, measurable actions that support the strategic goals. - Strategies: Detailed plans outlining how objectives will be achieved. - Action Plans: Specific steps, timelines, and responsibilities for implementing strategies. - Resource Allocation: Identification and distribution of necessary resources. - Monitoring and Evaluation: Methods for tracking progress and measuring success.

Why is a strategic plan important?

A strategic plan is important because it:

- Provides Direction: Offers a clear roadmap for the organization's future and guides decision-making. - Aligns Resources: Ensures that resources are allocated effectively to achieve strategic goals. - Improves Performance: Helps to identify priorities and focus efforts on high-impact activities. - Facilitates Communication: Enhances communication and coordination among stakeholders. - Enhances Adaptability: Enables the organization to anticipate and respond to changes in the environment. - Tracks Progress: Establishes benchmarks for measuring progress and success.

Can an organization be successful without a strategic plan?

While some organizations may achieve short-term success without a strategic plan, sustained long-term success is challenging without one. A strategic plan provides structure, direction, and a clear path for achieving goals. Without it, organizations risk misaligned efforts, inefficient resource use, and missed opportunities. A strategic plan helps ensure that all parts of the organization work together toward common objectives, making it a crucial element for sustained success.

8 Strategic Planning Templates [FREE]

Ted Jackson

Ted is a Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPoint Strategy and leads the sales and marketing teams.

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Free Template

Free strategic planning template.

Fast-track your strategic planning process with a  ready-to-go template  that will guide you from vision right through to results (BONUS VIDEO INCLUDED!)

  • Simple and clean design
  • Step-by-step process
  • Totally customizable
  • Battle-tested by THOUSANDS!

Your template comes in  Excel format  to allow you to work through each stage, from your top-level vision, values and objectives, right through to your KPIs. Don't worry, even if you're not sure about some of these, we'll help you along the way!

Over 189,000 downloads this year alone!

And here are even more reasons why you'll love this strategic planning template...

Fully Interactive

We built the template in a way that guides you through the various steps of creating your strategic plan in an easy, fun and intuitive manner.

Easy to Use

Writing a strategic plan is hard. We've broken the process down into 6 simple steps to make it easy to create a good strategic plan, from scratch.

Auto-generated Plan on a Page

Once you complete each tab, you'll have an automatically generated 'plan on a page' that you can export and print.

Best Practice for Strategic Planning

This process for creating a strategic plans has been used by thousands of companies and is even taught at some of the world's leading universities.

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Free Strategic Plan Template

Free Strategic Plan Template

Organizing your business strategies can help you accomplish long- and short-term goals. AchieveIt helps organizations create efficient, achievable plans. Insert your information and start working on your objectives immediately with our template. Follow our strategic plan template to outline and accomplish any goal you want.

The Goal of This Strategic Planning Template

Templates help  guide your strategic planning process . Using a template ensures you hit all significant points in your plan and address any concerns from the beginning. You can accurately assess your organization’s needs and input that information to create a step-by-step plan.

Whether or not you have experience with strategic planning, you can use a template to get ahead. When you fill out our template, you receive a tool to discuss with your peers and the AchieveIt team. From there, you can start working on your reflection and evaluation as the plan progresses.

BONUS: See your plan in action in the AchieveIt platform!

If you want to increase the success of your plan, one of our execution experts will be happy to give you a custom walkthrough using your plan details.

Just email [email protected] with an attached copy of this template or make reference of this template after filling out a form , and we’ll get you scheduled right away.

DOWNLOAD MY TEMPLATE

How to Use This Strategic Planning Template

We crafted this template to be the basis for your organization’s strategic plan. Every group is different, so your plan might have unique features. Your template provides a starting point to craft the ideal structure for your organization.

Follow these tips to use this plan effectively:

1. Review and Update the Plan Structure

To start, review our recommendations and enter the level names to match your organization. Match your organization’s vocabulary and references as needed to make sure everything translates.

2. Identify Strategic Themes

When you create goals for the month or year, identify any themes and commonalities between them. We have samples to showcase five themes, but you can adjust accordingly if you have more than five.

3. Create Goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Underneath these themes, you will have your individual goals and objectives. We recommend breaking down each goal into objectives, strategies, and tactics. Involve your team in planning to ensure everyone is on the same page.

4. Ensure Your Plan Is Structured for Success

Each of your goals should have an owner and a timeline. To improve your overall outcomes, ensure there is someone responsible for each goal and a clear timeline for when the goal should end. Read our article on  structuring your plan for execution  and find out what you need to prepare.

5. Make It Measurable

You should have actionable items to measure your goal. Find a way to measure success that works for each one, whether by revenue, leads, or another indicator. When you quantify your success, you can see your plan in action and determine how well the goal is working.

6. Ensure Alignment

For each goal, make sure the objectives and tactics underneath support the desired outcome. If you want to increase sales, focus on implementing marketing techniques or devoting energy to your sales staff. Your tactics are smaller goals you can work on along the way to your larger objective.

7. Create a Process for Execution

Now that you have an outline for how you’ll approach your plan, be sure you can execute your goals accordingly. Have a plan to track each goal and its progress along the way. AchieveIt has tools to help with plan execution and strategy at any point in time.

Tips for Seeing Your Strategic Plan in Action

After completing your template, you may want to learn how to see your plan in action. Your template may change to accommodate your growth as you progress through the program. We can help you gauge your plan and implement it into your organization’s procedures.

To measure your success, bring your plan to life with AchieveIt:

  • Build and implement a best-practice strategic plan
  • Collect updates:  AchieveIt software automatically collects updates at your preferred intervals.
  • Keep an eye on due dates
  • Increase visibility : Bring all your initiatives and plans into one dashboard that you can easily monitor.
  • Align cross-organization content : Combine your departments and groups to monitor their individual impact and encourage collaboration.
  • Improve team accountability:  Have access to all accountability details and see who is doing what at any time.
  • Drive results

Get Started With Your Strategic Plan

Strategic planning gives your organization a sense of direction. You can stay on top of changes and developments and be prepared if any issues arise. With a reliable plan, you can keep your organization on track toward its goals.

Building up your programs and systems takes time and effort. Implementing a strategy can make it easier to get ahead and make your business stronger overall. You can manage multiple tasks with one convenient system.

To get started with AchieveIt, download our free template and see how we can streamline your strategic planning.

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strategic planning template xls

Free Strategic Planning Excel Templates

We’ve selected the best free strategic planning excel templates to improve your business planning and management on spreadsheet examples . You’ll find free excel spreadsheets with Business Model Canvas, SWOT Analysis, Balanced Scorecard (BSC) and Porter’s Five Forces.

Click on the examples below and download free excel sheets.

business model canvas free template cover

Business Model Canvas Free Template – Excel Spreadsheet Example

SWOT analysis - Example template Excel spreadsheet

SWOT Analysis – Example template Excel spreadsheet

Balanced Scorecard + Strategy Map - example template Excel spreadsheet

Balanced Scorecard (BSC) + Strategy Map – example template Excel spreadsheet

Michael Porter five forces - Model template Excel Spreadsheet

Michael Porter’s five forces – Model template Excel

professional excel templates business

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Strategic planning excel templates.

James Milsom Oct 2021

Define and plan your strategy with this end-to-end strategic planning template set.

This FREE strategic plan template pack is designed to take you through each step of building your Hoshin Kanri, with guidance and examples of setting your True North, Breakthrough Objectives, and more, all from within Excel.

Download today to access the template, which includes:

  • Organizational Values and Strategic Themes
  • True North – Vision and Mission setting
  • Breakthrough Objectives creation
  • Annual Goals
  • X-Matrix plan
  • Project list
  • Project charter
  • KPI tracking
  • Action Plan

Click here to download your copy today.

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Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

Written by: Raja Mandal

strategic planning template xls

As a business owner, you know the excitement of witnessing your business thrive, outperforming competitors in a challenging market and achieving the goals you've been longing for.

Strategic planning can make all these things happen by helping define your goals, aligning your business with them, and creating a roadmap to reach them. However, you need the right template to help you get started with strategic plans like business plans, employee development, OKRs, Porter’s Five Forces and more.

That's why we've compiled a list of 11 easy-to-use strategic plan templates. These templates will help you kickstart your journey toward success or refine your existing plan for maximum effectiveness.

Along with the templates, we'll explain what a strategic plan is, its purpose and critical elements to help you get the most out of your strategic business plan.

Table of Contents

What is a strategic plan in business, 11 strategic plan templates, key elements of a strategic plan, types of strategic plans, the main purpose of a strategic plan, strategic plan vs. work plan: what’s the difference, best practices to execute your strategic plan.

  • A strategic plan is a written document outlining an organization's strategy and the tactics it will employ to achieve its goals.
  • To effectively execute a strategic plan, it is essential to clearly communicate goals, take actionable steps, remain flexible and adaptable, and regularly evaluate the plan's progress.
  • The most popular types of strategic plans include Porter's Five Forces, SWOT analysis, PEST model, VRIO, OKRs, Gap planning, Balanced Scorecards, and Blue Ocean Strategy.
  • The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to provide guidance and keep an organization focused on its objectives.
  • Save time and effort by utilizing Visme's user-friendly strategic plan templates for creating a solid strategic plan.
  • With Visme's wide selection of templates , drag-and-drop editor, and variety of design assets such as icons, illustrations, charts and graphs, creating professional strategic plans is easier than ever.

A strategic plan is a comprehensive framework that outlines an organization's vision, goals and the strategies needed to achieve them. It’s an excellent business tool that allows you to coordinate resources, capabilities and actions in a unified manner.

A well-crafted strategic plan covers important areas like analyzing the market, understanding the competition, making financial projections and creating operational strategies. With a strategic plan, you can make smart decisions, take advantage of opportunities and reduce risks for your business.

What Is a Strategic Plan Template?

A strategic plan template is a tool that helps you start or refine a strategic plan with a solid foundation. It’s a document or presentation that comes equipped with the pages or slides a strategic plan needs. Strategic plan templates come in all shapes and sizes to match your needs.

If you regularly conduct strategic planning initiatives, creating a strategic plan template for your brand will help save time and effort. You won’t have to start from scratch every time.

Now comes the most exciting part of this article—the templates. We’ve gathered together eight of the best strategic plan templates out there, so you can easily create your own long-term strategy.

1. Porter's Five Forces Strategic Plan Template

strategic planning template xls

Let’s start with this Porter's Five Forces strategic plan template. The template simplifies the process of presenting each of Porter's five forces: supplier power, buyer power, competitive rivalry, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitutes.

Clear headings, concise instructions and visually engaging elements ensure you can input data and interpret the results effortlessly. Additionally, it includes data widgets that enable clear communication of the analysis findings. This feature enhances your ability to effectively present the results, making it a valuable tool for visually showcasing strategic insights.

2. VRIO Framework Strategic Plan Template

strategic planning template xls

Maximize your business growth by utilizing this strategic plan template, which helps identify opportunities for sustainable competitive advantage and allocate resources effectively.

Each element of the VRIO framework (Value, Rivalry, Imitability, and Organization) is presented on separate slides, featuring a clean and minimal design that focuses on essential information for your strategic plan.

Personalize the slides with your brand's unique identity by adding brand colors , brand fonts and logos . With Visme's brand design tool , this process becomes incredibly easy. Simply set up your branding kit in Visme and apply your branding assets to your presentations with just one click.

This seamless integration allows your strategic plan to reflect your brand consistently and professionally.

3. Gap Planning Strategic Plan Template

Company Gap Planning Whiteboard

Do you need a tool to close the gap between your company's present and future state?

Our user-friendly gap planning template helps you visually map your organization's current situation and identify the gaps between your current position and desired goals. Defining these gaps allows you to create effective strategies to bridge them and achieve success.

The template's whiteboard format provides flexibility and promotes collaboration, making it perfect for team discussions, brainstorming sessions and strategic planning meetings . Utilize Visme's online whiteboarding tool to brainstorm with your team using this template and many other whiteboard templates like it.

Creating a strategic plan is almost impossible without effective collaboration between teams and stakeholders. That's why Visme comes with a wide range of collaborative design features that empower your team to work collaboratively.

Invite your team members via email or a shareable link, allowing them to edit, pin, circle or point out specific parts of the plan, leave comments, reply to discussions and resolve issues seamlessly.

With the live editing feature, you can edit any part of the design and the changes will be visible to every collaborator in real-time.

Here is a video guide that you can watch to learn more about how to collaborate with your team in Visme.

Visme has been instrumental in revolutionizing how businesses approach design collaboration. But don't just take our word for it; hear what one of our satisfied customers, Jaime Kelm, the Director of Business and Data Strategy at LAFC, had to say:

"I absolutely recommend Visme due to its dynamic functionality and ability to integrate everchanging media and digital technologies. That combined with a collaborative environment which empowers our team to be more efficient with time has been a huge plus."

4. Balanced Scorecard Strategic Plan Template

Balanced Scorecard Whiteboard

Are you unsure if your company is making progress in the right direction? Our Balanced Scorecard Strategic Plan Template can help you assess and measure your organization's performance in various areas.

Imagine a visual representation of your organization's performance across various dimensions, all in one place. Our template lets you see the big picture by showcasing the financial, customer, internal processes and growth perspectives. It's like having a clear roadmap right before your eyes.

By utilizing this powerful tool, you'll uncover valuable insights and pinpoint areas for improvement. You can find other strategic planning charts in the Visme template library.

5. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) Strategic Plan Template

Company OKRs Objectives and Key Results Whiteboard

As your company expands, you may encounter challenges aligning goals among different teams and departments, resulting in inefficiencies and resource wastage.

The OKRs strategic plan template offers a straightforward solution to address this issue by assisting you in effectively managing your company's goals and ensuring their successful attainment.

The strategic framework template simplifies the process by allowing you to define precise objectives and track the progress of three key results associated with each objective. Using this strategic plan template, you can streamline goal management and enhance productivity.

6. General Strategic Plan Template

strategic planning template xls

The General Strategic Plan Template provides a solid foundation for businesses in the early stages of planning their growth. It covers essential components such as company vision, mission, goals, objectives, implementation strategies, and resource allocation.

Using this template ensures that your company stays focused on its mission and vision while promoting employee alignment. It serves as a simple yet effective tool to keep everyone moving in the same direction.

Customize the template by including your own text, images, brand elements and more. Editing the templates gets even easier with Visme's dynamic fields , which eliminate the need for manually entering certain information repeatedly.

Simply set your company name, address, contact information, and other details once, and the templates will automatically populate the relevant fields whenever you use them.

Watch the video below to learn more about this amazing feature.

7. Marketing Strategic Plan Template

strategic planning template xls

Are you searching for a simple and clear marketing strategic plan template to guide your marketing efforts? Look no further! This template is specifically designed to assist you in strategizing and planning your marketing initiatives.

The marketing strategic plan template encompasses all the essential components required for a comprehensive marketing strategy, including a value proposition, promotional strategies, and SWOT analysis.

By providing in-depth details for each section, this template offers a deeper understanding of the crucial elements necessary to thrive in today's highly competitive marketplace.

Moreover, this template features a unique Flipbook effect , allowing you to navigate your strategic plan conveniently. Experience the flipbook-like view as each page turns seamlessly, providing a user-friendly interface for easy accessibility.

8. Communication Strategic Plan Template

strategic planning template xls

Clear and effective communication is crucial for any successful business. It involves not only speaking but also actively listening and understanding your audience's needs.

With the communication strategic plan template, you can evaluate your company's current communication strategies and identify improvement areas.

Utilize a combination of complementary colors and legible fonts to emphasize the significance of communication to your employees.

Enhance your texts by utilizing Visme's text animation feature, which offers eight different styles to make them more engaging. You can also adjust the animation speed to suit your preferences.

Consider incorporating interactive elements like hotspots, clickable menus and hover effects into your visuals to engage your audience further. These additions will make your content more captivating and interactive.

9. Company Bundling Business Model Plan Template

Company Bundling Business Model Plan

Are you looking for a new strategy in your business promotion efforts? Follow the idea from this strategic plan template and bundle services together to offer packages that bring better value and more affordable prices.

In this business model strategy plan, you can highlight the packages themselves and why they’re important in terms of convenience, value and customization.

Other pages include an overview, ideal customer cohorts, and an explanation of why the approach is a good idea.

Use the AI Image Edit Tools inside the Visme editor to edit the images for your strategic plan by removing backgrounds or unwanted objects. If you have a blurry image, you can unblur it and if the image is too small, you can enlarge it.

10. Strategic Business Plan Template

Company Strategic Business Plan

This strategic business plan template spans 7 pages to get you set up with a solid foundation for your business’s strategic plan. The layout starts with an executive summary and continues with a company overview, product description, market analysis, and planned strategies.

Do you need a shortcut to create a strategic plan document like this one? The Visme AI document generator can help you with content and visuals at the same time. In the document templates gallery, choose the generator and input a prompt that explains what you need and let the AI work its magic.

11. Leadership-Based Employee Development Strategy Plan Template

Leadership-Based Employee Development Plan

Help your employees improve in their career trajectory by planning a development strategy for them that’s leadership-based and well planned out.

This template for a strategic plan includes sections such as development objectives, a candidate profile, a skills assessment, a training roadmap and an evaluation.

Work with your Learning and Development team to create the best strategy plan with this template using the workflow feature . Assign specific pages to different people, set due dates and keep track of what’s done or still needs doing. Collaborate with the team to create the best employee development strategy plan.

Though there are no universal standards for what a strategic plan should contain, there are several key elements that most plans share. Each element of a strategic plan plays a crucial role in achieving the organization's long-term goals.

Here are the five of them:

1. Vision and Mission

A strategic plan should begin with a concise statement of your organization's vision and mission. The vision statement describes what the company hopes to achieve in the long term, while the mission statement focuses on how it plans to accomplish that goal.

A clear and compelling vision and mission statement can motivate employees and stakeholders to collaborate more effectively toward achieving their objectives.

These are also the first sections you should write when creating a plan because they provide direction for the rest of the document.

2. Objectives

The next element of a strategic plan is a list of specific goals or objectives. These are the things that you're trying to achieve over a given period, such as increasing sales by 15 percent over the next year.

You should have an objective for each section of your strategic plan: marketing, finance, human resources and so on.

Set SMART goals, which stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Here is an example of a SMART goal:

Increase company revenue by 15% (Specific) through targeted marketing campaigns and expanding customer base in new geographic regions (Achievable, Realistic). Achieve this goal within the next fiscal year (Timely), allowing for clear measurement of progress (Measurable).

Visme's SMART goal-setting templates are the best tools to set and achieve your goals.

Printable SMART Goals Worksheet

3. Strategy

Once your goals are set, it's time to develop a strategy to achieve them. A strategy is a plan that outlines how you will achieve your goals. It should include what actions you will take, who will be responsible for each action and when each action needs to be completed.

This is the part where you choose how to allocate resources, differentiate from competitors and position the organization in the market.

4. Approach

The approach specifies the methods and actions to put the strategy into action. It involves using available resources wisely and adjusting to changes in market conditions.

Include a description of how you will measure success, track progress toward your goals and what resources are required to achieve them. It can also include a timeline if your goals are set for the future.

Tactics are the specific steps you take to implement your strategy and achieve your goals. They can involve changing processes, reorganizing departments and even changing personnel.

Suppose you want to increase sales by 15%. In that case, a few possible tactics could be:

  • Offer limited-time discounts or promotions
  • Implement a referral program
  • Enhance product displays and packaging
  • Increase social media presence and engagement

The difference between approach and tactics is that the approach in your strategic plan serves as the foundation or framework for deciding tactics. And tactics are the actions you will take to execute your strategic plan.

Here’s a pyramid chart template that you can use to document your sales tactics.

Sales Tactics Pyramid Chart

Strategic plans come in various types, and each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. To help you find the right one for your business, we will now provide an overview of the eight most popular strategic plan types.

Go through them and choose the best one that best suits your business needs.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a widely used strategic planning tool that evaluates an organization's internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

By conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses gain valuable insights into their current position, competitive landscape and areas for improvement. This analysis enables decision-makers to identify strategic priorities, capitalize on strengths, address weaknesses, exploit opportunities and mitigate potential risks.

With a clear understanding of internal and external factors, you can formulate effective strategies to achieve your goals.

Here’s a SWOT analysis template you can use to create your own. Customize these templates using Visme’s SWOT analysis generator to fit your business needs.

strategic planning template xls

PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. The PEST analysis model helps you identify external factors that affect your business environment and can impact its success. It involves analyzing:

  • Political Factors: What laws govern your industry? How do they impact your business operations?
  • Economic Factors: What are the trends in your industry or economy? How will these trends affect your company's performance?
  • Social Factors: Who are your customers, and what does their behavior tell you about them?
  • Technological Factors: What new technologies can help your business? Are there any new technologies that will make it harder for you to compete?

To examine your business's internal and external factors, you can use this strategy alongside another one.

This whiteboard is an excellent starting point for brainstorming your company’s PESTEL analysis.

RMG Company PESTEL Analysis Whiteboard

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

This is a popular technique developed by Intel for setting goals.

An OKR is an objective, or a goal, broken down into key results (KRs), which are measurable actions taken to accomplish the objective. For example, if you want to increase sales by 10%, one KR might be “Increase website conversion rate from 2% to 3%.”

To implement this strategy, you have to set an objective and then break it down into a list of critical results.

Porter's Five Forces

If you are looking to increase your business's competitive advantage, Porter's five forces is the perfect strategic plan for you. It's a framework for analyzing your business's competitive environment and understanding where the opportunities and growth lie.

The five forces are

  • Competition in the industry
  • Competition from new entrants
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Bargaining power of buyers
  • Threat of substitutes

The tool offers a simple way to quantify the threat posed by each of these forces. In addition, it provides you with a clear picture of how your business stacks up against its competition and what's preventing you from gaining market share.

Here's Porter's Five Forces Model template from Visme to help you create your own.

Porter’s Five Forces Framework Infographics

VRIO Framework

Understanding the competitive landscape and how your business measures up against your peers is the first step to developing strategies for success. The VRIO Framework helps you do just that.

The framework uses four key variables that determine a company's competitive advantage:

  • Value : Determines if the resource or capability provides value and contributes to the business's competitive advantage.
  • Rarity : Evaluate the uniqueness of the resource or capability compared to competitors in the industry.
  • Imitability : Examines the difficulty of replicating or imitating the resources or capabilities of others.
  • Organization : Assesses the company's ability to effectively organize and exploit the resource or capability for sustained competitive advantage.

Gap Planning

Gap planning is a strategic approach that helps you bridge the gap between your business's current and desired future states. It involves identifying the gaps or discrepancies between where your company currently stands and where it aims to be and then formulating a plan to close those gaps.

You need to do a gap analysis to utilize the power of gap planning. Here's how it works:

1. Identify the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. 2. Determine what prevents you from closing those gaps (for example, time, resources, or technology). 3. Develop strategies for bridging those gaps by providing solutions for each one.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC)

As the name suggests, a balanced scorecard measures organizational performance by focusing on four key areas: financial, customer, internal business processes and learning and growth.

The idea behind BSC is that organizations are more successful when they have a clear and balanced view of their overall performance.

For example, a company may excel at generating high returns but neglect customer satisfaction, leading to a decline in brand loyalty and market share.

By incorporating the customer perspective into the balanced scorecard, the organization can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance customer experiences.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Imagine a market where your business faces no competition. That's a blue ocean—a market that either doesn't exist yet or where you can offer a fresh value proposition for customers.

But it's not a magic show where you wave a wand and suddenly, your business is completely unique. There's much more to the blue ocean strategy than just creating new market spaces.

The idea is to focus on what matters most to customers, develop innovative solutions and find a path where your business stands alone, free from competition.

The main purpose of a strategic plan is to set growth targets for your business and create effective strategies to achieve them, turning those strategies into actionable tasks.

The plan also helps businesses focus their efforts, prioritize objectives, and create a sense of urgency around key initiatives. It provides a framework that enables businesses to make better choices even when faced with difficult situations or obstacles.

Made with Visme Infographic Maker

While they may sound similar, a strategic plan and a work plan serve different purposes and are used at different times in business planning.

A strategic plan is a high-level document that outlines a business's long-term goals and objectives. It considers the company's mission, vision, values and overall strategy and provides a roadmap for success. A strategic plan is typically created at the beginning of a planning cycle and is reviewed and updated periodically.

On the other hand, a work plan is a more detailed document that outlines the specific tasks and activities that need to be completed to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan. It is a more tactical document that focuses on the business's day-to-day operations. Businesses create a work plan as part of the implementation phase of the strategic planning process.

For example, a software development team creates a work plan to outline coding tasks, testing and deadlines for a new mobile app project. Meanwhile, the company's strategic plan focuses on long-term growth by diversifying the product line, expanding into international markets and investing in emerging technologies.

If you have successfully created the strategic plan, you're just halfway there. And your execution plan is equally important.

So, follow these four best practices to get the most out of your strategic planning process.

1. Communicate Goals Clearly

Clearly define your strategic goals and ensure they are effectively communicated to everyone in your organization. This helps align all employees towards a common objective and ensures everyone understands their role in achieving it.

2. Take Actionable Steps

Break down your strategic goals into actionable steps or initiatives. Assign responsibility and create a system of accountability to ensure these steps are executed effectively and on time. Regularly review progress and make adjustments as needed.

3. Stay Flexible and Adaptable

Recognize that the business environment is dynamic, and plans may need to be adjusted. Remain open to feedback and monitor changes in the market or industry that may impact your strategic plan. Build flexibility into your plan to allow for timely adaptations, seize emerging opportunities, or address unexpected challenges.

4. Evaluate Regularly

Establish a system for ongoing evaluation and learning. Regularly assess the progress and outcomes of your strategic initiatives. Identify areas of success and areas for improvement. Encourage a culture of learning from both successes and failures and use these insights to refine your strategic approach over time.

By following these best practices, you can enhance the execution of your strategic plan and increase the likelihood of achieving your desired outcomes.

Manage and Create Strategies with Confidence Using Visme

Creating a strategic plan is an important part of any business. But it's not enough to just create the plan and forget about it. You need to manage and execute this plan to achieve its goals.

Whether customizing your favorite template, collaborating with your team, or securely storing and updating the plan, Visme makes the entire process a breeze. Choose a strategic plan template from the list and customize it to make it your own.

In addition to the strategic plans and features mentioned above, Visme provides a vast selection of templates to fulfill almost all your business document creation requirements.

With over 50 different template types available, including presentations , infographics , whiteboards , budgets , roadmaps and more, there are endless possibilities for you to explore and create with Visme.

Sign-up for Visme and start creating your strategic plans now!

Develop strategic plans and maximize results faster with Visme

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About the Author

Raja Antony Mandal is a Content Writer at Visme. He can quickly adapt to different writing styles, possess strong research skills, and know SEO fundamentals. Raja wants to share valuable information with his audience by telling captivating stories in his articles. He wants to travel and party a lot on the weekends, but his guitar, drum set, and volleyball court don’t let him.

strategic planning template xls

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A strategic plan is a plan design that includes several serious researched steps to improve or develop any work or project or organization. This is a set of different useful steps that together become a strategy. This strategy needs proper planning to achieve the goals it is intended for. We have designed a number of templates structuring strategic plans that you can use to structure your strategies. Have a look at them today!

strategic planning template xls

Step 1: Conduct Meeting with the Management Members

Step 2: do a swot analysis, step 3: target some goals, step 4: take important measures, step 5: create the action plan.

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strategic planning template xls

Excel spreadsheet Strategic Plan

Excel spreadsheet Strategic Plan.

The strategic plan template is an Excel spreadsheet designed to establish and monitor goals and action plans that drive organizational performance.

Use this template to drive growth and manage risks or opportunities through key performance indicators (KPIs).

The purpose of this template is to translate your strategic vision into results for the entire company.

Use good data to track your major management decisions.

Main features:

  • Organize your company’s strategic sectors and stakeholders.
  • Create a vision, purpose, and values statement.
  • To track them, set strategic goals and key performance indicators.
  • Implement a well-defined, goal-oriented action plan.
  • Keep a close eye on your accomplishments and business trends.

Straightforward and professional

  • Navigation between pages is made easier with the use of a side menu.
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  • Download it now.

Images Excel spreadsheet Strategic Plan

Excel spreadsheet Strategic Plan

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Strategic Plan Template Excel

$ 59.00

Key features

  • Organize the strategic areas and stakeholders of your organization
  • Define your vision, mission and values
  • Establish strategic goals and key performance indicators to track them
  • Implement an clear and result-oriented action plan
  • Follow accurately your achievements and the trends of your business
  • *Template limited to 6 strategic goals

What is included?

  • Sample Data – Strategic Plan Template Excel (1,012 kb)
  • Strategic Plan Template Excel.xlsx (982 kb)
  • Modèle Excel de Plan Stratégique.xlsx (986 kb)

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  • Description

At its core, a strategic plan is a comprehensive outline that details the direction an organization wishes to head towards. It provides a roadmap, serving as a guiding tool that aligns an organization’s operations with its mission and vision. In the ever-evolving world of business, it’s imperative for companies, regardless of their size, to stay proactive rather than reactive. This means foreseeing potential challenges, leveraging opportunities, and having a clear idea of where they want to be in the next few years.

Simple and Professional Excel Template

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  • Immediate download
  • Secure credit card payment with PayPal or Stripe, no account creation required
  • The spreadsheet allows customizable start months, catering to businesses not on a January-December planning cycle
  • Multilingual template: Select one of the available languages (English, French, or Portuguese) or manually translate to the language of your choice

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More About the Strategic Planning Spreadsheet

Begin by defining the company’s mission , vision , and values . The mission encapsulates the company’s purpose and its core intentions. The vision outlines where the company sees itself in the future, its aspirational destination. Values , on the other hand, represent the core principles and standards guiding the company’s actions and decisions.

Next, pinpoint the company’s primary goals. These goals provide a clear direction on what the organization aims to achieve in the short to medium term. For every set goal, lay out corresponding objectives that will serve as detailed actions or strategies to achieve those goals.

Then, on a monthly basis, track the progress using performance indicators. These indicators provide measurable and quantifiable data, ensuring that the company remains on the right path towards its goals. The spreadsheet becomes a vital tool in this process, allowing for organized and systematic tracking, ensuring that every milestone is recorded and every objective is one step closer to being realized.

Other Information

  • Built for Excel 2010 or later
  • Licensed for Private Use Only (not for distribution or resale)

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Strategic planning templates.

We offer a range of strategic planning templates and tools to facilitate all of the common strategic planning techniques.

The strategic planning templates include techniques such as SWOT Analysis Chart, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix, and General Electric (GE)-McKinsey Nine Cell matrix.

Each template is available individually, or as part of one of our strategic business planning package.  This package contains a complete set of MS-Word and MS-Excel templates.

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  • Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Growth-Share Matrix Template represents the results of a strategic analysis of business units or product lines in both MS-Excel and MS-Word.
  • General Electric (GE) McKinsey Nine Cell Matrix Template  allows you to produce a business portfolio analysis nine-cell (3 by 3) matrix in both MS-Excel and MS-Word.

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Essential Guide to the Strategic Planning Process

By Joe Weller | April 3, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the strategic planning process and how a strategic plan guides you to achieving your organizational goals. Plus, find expert insight on getting the most out of your strategic planning.

Included on this page, you'll discover the importance of strategic planning , the steps of the strategic planning process , and the basic sections to include in your strategic plan .

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational activity that aims to achieve a group’s goals. The process helps define a company’s objectives and investigates both internal and external happenings that might influence the organizational path. Strategic planning also helps identify adjustments that you might need to make to reach your goal. Strategic planning became popular in the 1960s because it helped companies set priorities and goals, strengthen operations, and establish agreement among managers about outcomes and results.

Strategic planning can occur over multiple years, and the process can vary in length, as can the final plan itself. Ideally, strategic planning should result in a document, a presentation, or a report that sets out a blueprint for the company’s progress.

By setting priorities, companies help ensure employees are working toward common and defined goals. It also aids in defining the direction an enterprise is heading, efficiently using resources to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. Based on the plan, managers can make decisions or allocate the resources necessary to pursue the strategy and minimize risks.

Strategic planning strengthens operations by getting input from people with differing opinions and building a consensus about the company’s direction. Along with focusing energy and resources, the strategic planning process allows people to develop a sense of ownership in the product they create.

John Bryson

“Strategic planning is not really one thing. It is really a set of concepts, procedures, tools, techniques, and practices that have to be adapted to specific contexts and purposes,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement . “Strategic planning is a prompt to foster strategic thinking, acting, and learning, and they all matter and they are all connected.”

What Strategic Planning Is Not

Strategic planning is not a to-do list for the short or long term — it is the basis of a business, its direction, and how it will get there.

“You have to think very strategically about strategic planning. It is more than just following steps,” Bryson explains. “You have to understand strategic planning is not some kind of magic solution to fixing issues. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.”

Strategic planning is also different from a business plan that focuses on a specific product, service, or program and short-term goals. Rather, strategic planning means looking at the big picture.

While they are related, it is important not to confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking, which is more about imagining and innovating in a way that helps a company. In contrast, strategic planning supports those thoughts and helps you figure out how to make them a reality.

Another part of strategic planning is tactical planning , which involves looking at short-term efforts to achieve longer-term goals.

Lastly, marketing plans are not the same as strategic plans. A marketing plan is more about introducing and delivering a service or product to the public instead of how to grow a business. For more about marketing plans and processes, read this article .

Strategic plans include information about finances, but they are different from financial planning , which involves different processes and people. Financial planning templates can help with that process.

Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

In today’s technological age, strategic plans provide businesses with a path forward. Strategic plans help companies thrive, not just survive — they provide a clear focus, which makes an organization more efficient and effective, thereby increasing productivity.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“You are not going to go very far if you don’t have a strategic plan. You need to be able to show where you are going,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . He lives in the startup-rich environment of northern California and says he often sees startups fail to get seed money because they do not have a strong plan for what they want to do and how they want to do it.

Getting team members on the same page (in both creating a strategic plan and executing the plan itself) can be beneficial for a company. Planners can find satisfaction in the process and unite around a common vision. In addition, you can build strong teams and bridge gaps between staff and management.

“You have to reach agreement about good ideas,” Bryson says. “A really good strategy has to meet a lot of criteria. It has to be technically workable, administratively feasible, politically acceptable, and legally, morally, and ethically defensible, and that is a pretty tough list.”

By discussing a company’s issues during the planning process, individuals can voice their opinions and provide information necessary to move the organization ahead — a form of problem solving as a group.

Strategic plans also provide a mechanism to measure success and progress toward goals, which keeps employees on the same page and helps them focus on the tasks at hand.

When Is the Time to Do Strategic Planning?

There is no perfect time to perform strategic planning. It depends entirely on the organization and the external environment that surrounds it. However, here are some suggestions about when to plan:

If your industry is changing rapidly

When an organization is launching

At the start of a new year or funding period

In preparation for a major new initiative

If regulations and laws in your industry are or will be changing

“It’s not like you do all of the thinking and planning, and then implement,” Bryson says. “A mistake people make is [believing] the thinking has to precede the acting and the learning.”

Even if you do not re-create the entire planning process often, it is important to periodically check your plan and make sure it is still working. If not, update it.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process?

Strategic planning is a process, and not an easy one. A key is to make sure you allow enough time to complete the process without rushing, but not take so much time that you lose momentum and focus. The process itself can be more important than the final document due to the information that comes out of the discussions with management, as well as lower-level workers.

Jim Stockmal

“There is not one favorite or perfect planning process,” says Jim Stockmal, president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He explains that new techniques come out constantly, and consultants and experienced planners have their favorites. In an effort to standardize the practice and terms used in strategic planning, ASP has created two certification programs .

Level 1 is the Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) certification. It is designed for early- or mid-career planners who work in strategic planning. Level 2, the Strategic Management Professional (SMP) certification, is geared toward seasoned professionals or those who train others. Stockmal explains that ASP designed the certification programs to add structure to the otherwise amorphous profession.

The strategic planning process varies by the size of the organization and can be formal or informal, but there are constraints. For example, teams of all sizes and goals should build in many points along the way for feedback from key leaders — this helps the process stay on track.

Some elements of the process might have specific start and end points, while others are continuous. For example, there might not be one “aha” moment that suddenly makes things clear. Instead, a series of small moves could slowly shift the organization in the right direction.

“Don’t make it overly complex. Bring all of the stakeholders together for input and feedback,” Stockmal advises. “Always be doing a continuous environmental scan, and don’t be afraid to engage with stakeholders.”

Additionally, knowing your company culture is important. “You need to make it work for your organization,” he says.

There are many different ways to approach the strategic planning process. Below are three popular approaches:

Goals-Based Planning: This approach begins by looking at an organization’s mission and goals. From there, you work toward that mission, implement strategies necessary to achieve those goals, and assign roles and deadlines for reaching certain milestones.

Issues-Based Planning: In this approach, start by looking at issues the company is facing, then decide how to address them and what actions to take.

Organic Planning: This approach is more fluid and begins with defining mission and values, then outlining plans to achieve that vision while sticking to the values.

“The approach to strategic planning needs to be contingent upon the organization, its history, what it’s capable of doing, etc.,” Bryson explains. “There’s such a mistake to think there’s one approach.”

For more information on strategic planning, read about how to write a strategic plan and the different types of models you can use.

Who Participates in the Strategic Planning Process?

For work as crucial as strategic planning, it is necessary to get the right team together and include them from the beginning of the process. Try to include as many stakeholders as you can.

Below are suggestions on who to include:

Senior leadership

Strategic planners

Strategists

People who will be responsible for implementing the plan

People to identify gaps in the plan

Members of the board of directors

“There can be magic to strategic planning, but it’s not in any specific framework or anybody’s 10-step process,” Bryson explains. “The magic is getting key people together, getting them to focus on what’s important, and [getting] them to do something about it. That’s where the magic is.”

Hofmeyer recommends finding people within an organization who are not necessarily current leaders, but may be in the future. “Sometimes they just become obvious. Usually they show themselves to you, you don’t need to look for them. They’re motivated to participate,” he says. These future leaders are the ones who speak up at meetings or on other occasions, who put themselves out there even though it is not part of their job description.

At the beginning of the process, establish guidelines about who will be involved and what will be expected of them. Everyone involved must be willing to cooperate and collaborate. If there is a question about whether or not to include anyone, it is usually better to bring on extra people than to leave someone out, only to discover later they should have been a part of the process all along. Not everyone will be involved the entire time; people will come and go during different phases.

Often, an outside facilitator or consultant can be an asset to a strategic planning committee. It is sometimes difficult for managers and other employees to sit back and discuss what they need to accomplish as a company and how they need to do it without considering other factors. As objective observers, outside help can often offer insight that may escape insiders.

Hofmeyer says sometimes bosses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is happening around them, which allows them to ignore potential conflicts. “People often have their own agendas of where they want to go, and if they are not aligned, it is difficult to build a strategic plan. An outsider perspective can really take you out of your bubble and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear [but should]. We get into a rhythm, and it’s really hard to step out of that, so bringing in outside people can help bring in new views and aspects of your business.”

An outside consultant can also help naysayers take the process more seriously because they know the company is investing money in the efforts, Hofmeyer adds.

No matter who is involved in the planning process, make sure at least one person serves as an administrator and documents all planning committee actions.

What Is in a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan communicates goals and what it takes to achieve them. The plan sometimes begins with a high-level view, then becomes more specific. Since strategic plans are more guidebooks than rulebooks, they don’t have to be bureaucratic and rigid. There is no perfect plan; however, it needs to be realistic.

There are many sections in a strategic plan, and the length of the final document or presentation will vary. The names people use for the sections differ, but the general ideas behind them are similar: Simply make sure you and your team agree on the terms you will use and what each means.

One-Page Strategic Planning Template

“I’m a big fan of getting a strategy onto one sheet of paper. It’s a strategic plan in a nutshell, and it provides a clear line of sight,” Stockmal advises.

You can use the template below to consolidate all your strategic ideas into a succinct, one-page strategic plan. Doing so provides you with a high-level overview of your strategic initiatives that you can place on your website, distribute to stakeholders, and refer to internally. More extensive details about implementation, capacity, and other concerns can go into an expanded document.

One Page Strategic Planning Template

Download One-Page Strategic Planning Template Excel | Word | Smartsheet

The most important part of the strategic plan is the executive summary, which contains the highlights of the plan. Although it appears at the beginning of the plan, it should be written last, after you have done all your research.

Of writing the executive summary, Stockmal says, “I find it much easier to extract and cut and edit than to do it first.”

For help with creating executive summaries, see these templates .

Other parts of a strategic plan can include the following:

Description: A description of the company or organization.

Vision Statement: A bold or inspirational statement about where you want your company to be in the future.

Mission Statement: In this section, describe what you do today, your audience, and your approach as you work toward your vision.

Core Values: In this section, list the beliefs and behaviors that will enable you to achieve your mission and, eventually, your vision.

Goals: Provide a few statements of how you will achieve your vision over the long term.

Objectives: Each long-term goal should have a few one-year objectives that advance the plan. Make objectives SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and time-based) to get the most out of them.

Budget and Operating Plans: Highlight resources you will need and how you will implement them.

Monitoring and Evaluation: In this section, describe how you will check your progress and determine when you achieve your goals.

One of the first steps in creating a strategic plan is to perform both an internal and external analysis of the company’s environment. Internally, look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personal values of those who will implement your plan (managers, executives, board members). Externally, examine threats and opportunities within the industry and any broad societal expectations that might exist.

You can perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to sum up where you are currently and what you should focus on to help you achieve your future goals. Strengths shows you what you do well, weaknesses point out obstacles that could keep you from achieving your objectives, opportunities highlight where you can grow, and threats pinpoint external factors that could be obstacles in your way.

You can find more information about performing a SWOT analysis and free templates in this article . Another analysis technique, STEEPLE (social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal, and ethical), often accompanies a SWOT analysis.

Basics of Strategic Planning

How you navigate the strategic planning process will vary. Several tools and techniques are available, and your choice depends on your company’s leadership, culture, environment, and size, as well as the expertise of the planners.

All include similar sections in the final plan, but the ways of driving those results differ. Some tools are goals-based, while others are issues- or scenario-based. Some rely on a more organic or rigid process.

Hofmeyer summarizes what goes into strategic planning:

Understand the stakeholders and involve them from the beginning.

Agree on a vision.

Hold successful meetings and sessions.

Summarize and present the plan to stakeholders.

Identify and check metrics.

Make periodic adjustments.

Items That Go into Strategic Planning

Strategic planning contains inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Inputs and activities are elements that are internal to the company, while outputs and outcomes are external.

Remember, there are many different names for the sections of strategic plans. The key is to agree what terms you will use and define them for everyone involved.

Inputs are important because it is impossible to know where you are going until you know what is around you where you are now.

Companies need to gather data from a variety of sources to get a clear look at the competitive environment and the opportunities and risks within that environment. You can think of it like a competitive intelligence program.

Data should come from the following sources:

Interviews with executives

A review of documents about the competition or market that are publicly available

Primary research by visiting or observing competitors

Studies of your industry

The values of key stakeholders

This information often goes into writing an organization’s vision and mission statements.

Activities are the meetings and other communications that need to happen during the strategic planning process to help everyone understand the competition that surrounds the organization.

It is important both to understand the competitive environment and your company’s response to it. This is where everyone looks at and responds to the data gathered from the inputs.

The strategic planning process produces outputs. Outputs can be as basic as the strategic planning document itself. The documentation and communications that describe your organization’s strategy, as well as financial statements and budgets, can also be outputs.

The implementation of the strategic plan produces outcomes (distinct from outputs). The outcomes determine the success or failure of the strategic plan by measuring how close they are to the goals and vision you outline in your plan.

It is important to understand there will be unplanned and unintended outcomes, too. How you learn from and adapt to these changes influence the success of the strategic plan.

During the planning process, decide how you will measure both the successes and failures of different parts of the strategic plan.

Sharing, Evaluating, and Monitoring the Progress of a Strategic Plan

After companies go through a lengthy strategic planning process, it is important that the plan does not sit and collect dust. Share, evaluate, and monitor the plan to assess how you are doing and make any necessary updates.

“[Some] leaders think that once they have their strategy, it’s up to someone else to execute it. That’s a mistake I see,” Stockmal says.

The process begins with distributing and communicating the plan. Decide who will get a copy of the plan and how those people will tell others about it. Will you have a meeting to kick off the implementation? How will you specify who will do what and when? Clearly communicate the roles people will have.

“Before you communicate the plan [to everyone], you need to have the commitment of stakeholders,” Hofmeyer recommends. Have the stakeholders be a part of announcing the plan to everyone — this keeps them accountable because workers will associate them with the strategy. “That applies pressure to the stakeholders to actually do the work.”

Once the team begins implementation, it’s necessary to have benchmarks to help measure your successes against the plan’s objectives. Sometimes, having smaller action plans within the larger plan can help keep the work on track.

During the planning process, you should have decided how you will measure success. Now, figure out how and when you will document progress. Keep an eye out for gaps between the vision and its implementation — a big gap could be a sign that you are deviating from the plan.

Tools are available to assist with tracking performance of strategic plans, including several types of software. “For some organizations, a spreadsheet is enough, but you are going to manually enter the data, so someone needs to be responsible for that,” Stockmal recommends.

Remember: strategic plans are not written in stone. Some deviation will be necessary, and when it happens, it’s important to understand why it occurred and how the change might impact the company's vision and goals.

Deviation from the plan does not mean failure, reminds Hofmeyer. Instead, understanding what transpired is the key. “Things happen, [and] you should always be on the lookout for that. I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement,” he says. Explain to stakeholders why a change is taking place. “There’s always a sense of re-evaluation, but do it methodically.”

Build in a schedule to review and amend the plan as necessary; this can help keep companies on track.

What Is Strategic Management?

Strategic planning is part of strategic management, and it involves the activities that make the strategic plan a reality. Essentially, strategic management is getting from the starting point to the goal effectively and efficiently using the ongoing activities and processes that a company takes on in order to keep in line with its mission, vision, and strategic plan.

“[Strategic management] closes the gap between the plan and executing the strategy,” Stockmal of ASP says. Strategic management is part of a larger planning process that includes budgeting, forecasting, capital allocation, and more.

There is no right or wrong way to do strategic management — only guidelines. The basic phases are preparing for strategic planning, creating the strategic plan, and implementing that plan.

No matter how you manage your plan, it’s key to allow the strategic plan to evolve and grow as necessary, due to both the internal and external factors.

“We get caught up in all of the day-to-day issues,” Stockmal explains, adding that people do not often leave enough time for implementing the plan and making progress. That’s what strategic management implores: doing things that are in the plan and not letting the plan sit on a shelf.

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The Free Excel Student Template should save you considerable time and allow for your presentation to be more professional. Do not mistake this Template for doing all of the work. Your assignment is to analyze the firm’s strategic situation and present recommendations for the next three years as well as financial analyses to support your conclusions. You will still need to do the research and enter key internal and external information into the Template.

The Template does not gather or prioritize information. It does however assimilate information you enter in a professional way and also performs many calculations for you once that critical information is entered. Best of luck, with your project.

× Since you’re on a TABLET , I would recommend you clicking download below when you get back to your laptop/desktop!

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Please review the Template instructions below. For your convenience, the instructions are also included in the Template itself.

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1.      Read all instructions on the Template for detailed advice and tips.

2.      To get your matrices and charts into Excel or Power Point, highlight them and then copy and paste special into Word or Power Point. If you don’t use paste special then the spacing will not work properly.

3.      Paste special will give you several options simply use the one that you prefer.  I prefer one of the “picture” options.

4.      The advantages of using the “paste link” option are as you change the data in Excel it will change in your Word or Power Point file provided both are open.   This is a nice feature as if you decide to change some data in Excel, you don’t have to paste special everything back over into Power Point or Word.

5.      The advantage of just using “paste” option is your file is not linked to Excel.  If something were to happen with Excel or MS Office wants to be temperamental on the day of your presentation, and you had checked the “paste link” option, then your data will not show on Word or Power Point.  Using the “paste link” option, Excel must “travel” with your Power Point or Word file to supply it the data. I find the advantages of the “paste link” option are offset by the disadvantages as it is rather quick to simply delete and repaste the updated material.

6.      You may also use a program called Jing, found at http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html to copy the matrices and save as jpeg files for later entry into Power Point. The program is free. I simply prefer the paste special then select jpg or some picture option instead.

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Strategic Planning Tools and Templates (Excel XLS)

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This product ( Strategic Planning Tools and Templates ) is an Excel template (XLS), which you can download immediately upon purchase.

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Food for thought and relevant information in the field of strategy and management

Excel spreadsheets for strategic planning – use with care!

10th May 2015 by Dagmar Recklies

Are you one of those strategic planners who rely on Excel spreadsheets? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Excel is and remains fairly popular in strategic planning. However, there is no denying – Excel is not the perfect solution for this purpose. There are some significant risks and downsides.

[bctt tweet=”Do you rely on Excel for strategic planning? You are not alone!”]

The Pros – Advantages of using Excel spreadsheets for strategic planning

The biggest advantage is straightforward: Excel* is well-known software that sits on many desktop and notebook computers around the world. Almost everyone is capable of using Excel.

To achieve company-wide acceptance for strategic planning process is difficult enough. This task gets even harder if you force everybody involved to get familiar with another new software tool. The well-known Excel might ease the pain a little bit.

There are some other positive aspects on top of that:

  • Excel is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of an advanced user.
  • It is a very flexible tool that allows creating solutions for many functions, like questionnaire design, scenario analyses, analyses of large amounts of data, visualization of results and more.
  • You can handle the whole process in-house – from the initial design of input to calculation and output as well as later adjustments. You do not rely on an external software supplier who may or may not be there in five years.
  • Excel is compatible with the other MS Office products. Especially, it works well together with PowerPoint. Thus, results are easy to transfer into the final strategy presentation.
  • There are many different templates available for strategic planning purposes

The Cons – Why Excel is not the perfect solution for strategic planning

If you do a Google search for “strategic planning excel spreadsheets” you’ll get countless results, the vast majority of them offering some sort of Excel templates for strategic planning for free or for sale. At the time of this writing, there is only one critical text on page one of the search results: Excel is a great tool, but it’s a dumb one for Strategic Planning .

There is much truth in this one post. The overwhelming supply in excel templates may easily hide the fact that the use of Excel for strategic planning has its downsides :

  • All self-developed Excel tools are prone to error
  • Excel tools are easy to manipulate – intentionally or unintentionally
  • There is no real function for user permissions, just a simple password protection
  • There is just a very simple revision tracking function, which I don’t consider very functional
  • Excel spreadsheets do not support you to manage and track your whole process
  • Spreadsheets tend to become large, confusing and unclear
  • When used for very large amounts of data and complex calculations, Excel quickly reaches its limits
  • If you work with several linked files, special care is needed when moving or renaming files. Those links are prone to get lost.

One more point here, although I do not consider this a real weakness: Excel doesn’t know anything about strategic planning processes. You have to set up the whole process in every detail by your own. The results from your Excel spreadsheet will only be as good as the formulas you have entered.

Of course, Excel does not help you to design your process. However, thus it forces you to think through your whole process from A to Z by yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Practical advice for using Excel spreadsheets

My experience.

Let me share some personal experience with the use of spreadsheets for strategic planning.

Excel spreadsheets are often used as a template for strategic planning

Strategic planning template based on Excel

Despite all downsides – I guess almost every business does it to some degree.

I once attended a presentation event from a specialized service provider for banks. They presented us a case study on how they set up a software solution for the complete financial planning process for a particular bank. It was tailored to their specific needs, allowed collaboration and process monitoring, had data interfaces and anything you could dream of.

In our small talk during coffee breaks we participants discussed how we do it in our banks. Each and every one of us said something like

“I have to admit, we do all this in Excel. I know we should migrate to a professional system. However, Excel works so well for us …”

At that time, I too worked with a financial planning tool for an entire bank that was solely based on Excel and Access . Over the years, we had developed our own system to handle the 30+ linked files. We were able to deliver reliable, replicable and explainable results and were well accepted with our tool.

In another company, I worked in the strategic planning department. We were given the task to develop a company-wide strategic planning process from scratch. I guess I do not have to explain how challenging this was. In year 1, we started with Excel and PowerPoint only. The handling of the many files alone was a pain in the neck. However, we were developing the whole process and system in real time; there was no trial run. Excel gave us the flexibility to make adjustments as needed.

In year 2, we had a specialized software application developed for the questionnaire and calculation part, based on our experience from the first year. That turned out to be a reasonable approach.

Why I do not use predefined forms and templates

As mentioned, there are plenty of Excel spreadsheet templates available for all aspects of strategic analysis and planning. I never actually used one of those. For one simple reason:

I have no doubt that these tools are well thought through and are based on best-in-class strategic thinking. However, they inevitably are designed to fit as many businesses as possible. They cannot offer anything but standard approaches.

None of these tools was developed for your individual business in your individual market. But that is what strategy is about: Look at what makes you unique, find a unique angle in the overall business and build your unique strategy on that.

What I recommend: Get a few of these tools and carefully analyze them. Then,

  • take the best ideas from them,
  • use what really fits your situation,
  • adapt the rest, and
  • put together your very specific and individual tool.

Excel spreadsheets vs. specialized software

Of course, there is a third solution. Specialized consultants will happily develop your tailor-made collaborative software solution for your strategic planning process.

This has a number of advantages :

  • You can utilize the combined knowledge and experience of experts
  • The tool will have all the functionalities you need
  • The consultants will help you to develop your specific planning process and develop the tool according to this process
  • Thus, you save yourself the process of trial and error
  • You get a stable process that you can rely on for several years
  • (positive side effect: if something goes wrong, you can possibly blame the consultants)

However, there are some disadvantages too in comparison with a home-made Excel spreadsheet solution:

  • It’s obvious: It is far more expensive
  • It is prone to sunk cost dilemmas. There is always a risk that even such solutions do not work out as expected. Since tailor-made specialized software requires a significant investment in time and money, executives tend to stick to it, even if it does not live up to the expectations.
  • In most cases, you will need external help again, as soon as you want to change or adjust something.

Tips for using Excel models for strategic planning

I have seen poor financial models, good models and excellent financial models based on Excel. What distinguishes the excellent ones from the good is the strict application of financial modelling best practices .

There is a follow-up article that discusses financial modeling best practices in great detail . Here I list focus on those practices that I came to appreciate most in my own work with Excel:

  • Develop your own / your teams / your companies’ general system and structure for Excel tools and rigorously apply it: color codes, naming conventions, formats, table structures etc. Thus, other users will find it easier to orient themselves in your tools.
  • Make sure your tool looks professional and trustworthy. It has to work neatly without any error messages. Have a user interface for data entries and results. The actual calculations should take place on other sheets. In doing so, you raise your tools chances to earn trust, acceptance and credibility.
  • Even if it is a pain in the neck: Write documentations on the tools you build. This is not so much about transcribing the formulas. You should rather explain what the tool calculates in which where, which way and why this way, i.e. what does the tool actually do.
  • Always have somebody else check your tool from tip to toe. This may even be a job for external consultants. Thus you can eliminate existing errors, get valuable advice for improvements and significantly increase your tools credibility.
  • Generously offer to explain your tool in any detail to everybody interested. This is about credibility again. Moreover, you also have to make sure that your tool is well understood by all users and by the recipients of the results.
  • Do sensitivity tests, also for limit ranges. Do your results change as expected, if you change particular input values? Document these tests and tell everybody about them.

Excel spreadsheets are not the perfect solution as a support tool for strategic planning. They are, however, not as bad as it seems. Excel can be a good starting point, especially when you are developing and testing your process.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider the downsides of self-developed Excel solutions. Alternatively, you can rely on predefined templates or have external specialists develop a specific software solution for your planning needs – or go for a combination of those.

All these alternatives have their pros and cons. There is not ultimate right or wrong solution. It is part of the design phase of your strategic planning process to determine which one works best for you.

*Excel, PowerPoint, Access and MS Office are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Our book recommendations on financial modelling with Excel:

  • Excel Data Analysis: Modeling and Simulation Hector Guerrero This book is written for the students and practitioners who are looking for a single introductory Excel-based resource that covers three essential business and analytical skills—Data Analysis, Business Modeling, and Simulation of Complex Problems. The focus of the book is clearly on analysis of problems for decision making, yet detailed explanations regarding how to use Excel tools are provided.
  • Next Generation Excel: Modeling In Excel For Analysts And MBAs Isaac Gottlieb While many businesspeople are quite familiar with the reports created with financial models, most are not as familiar with the creation of the models themselves. This book shows them how to build an accurate and effective financial model using the solid functionality and easy usability of Excel.
  • Financial Modeling Simon Benninga Basic and advanced models in the areas of corporate finance, portfolio management, options, and bonds are explained with detailed Excel spreadsheets. Sections on technical aspects of Excel and on the use of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) round out the book to make Financial Modeling a complete guide for the financial modeler.

You may also like:

  • Financial Modelling for strategic planning – Use these proven best practices to improve results and credibility!
  • Two ideas for improving strategic planning
  • Strategic Planning for Different Business Units – A Case Study
  • How do you get the most out of your strategic planning meeting? Practical advice for preparation and follow-up

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Action Plan Template

Get your Action Plan Template for Excel or open it in ProjectManager, the best way to manage your projects online.

strategic planning template xls

When you’re planning a project, you need a strategy to execute your plan. The action plan is that document. It outlines the action steps you need to do in order to accomplish your goals. Download your free action plan template for Excel and get on the road to success.

If you open the action plan template in ProjectManager instead, you’ll be able to manage your action plan with more than a spreadsheet. You can work in five different project views: Gantt, kanban board, task list, calendar and sheet.

Plus, you can collaborate with your team in real time and track progress in the software with live dashboards and instant status reports. Get started for free with ProjectManager and build a better action plan.

free action plan template laid out on a Gantt chart

What Is an Action Plan Template?

An action plan template is a tool that helps project managers visualize the steps to take for the successful completion of a project. Those action steps are further broken down into subtasks known as action items. ProjectManager’s action plan template for Excel helps you organize these elements on a spreadsheet.

A project action plan template is an important project planning tool because it also describes the team, time and resources needed to complete the project successfully. It includes a timeline that organizes tasks, their priority and the team members responsible for them.

Even though they have the same basic elements like goals, action steps, tasks and a timeline, there are several types of action plan templates such as business, strategic and corrective action plan templates. Our action plan Excel template can serve any of those purposes, and its spreadsheet can be easily adjusted to fit your needs.

Free downloadable action plan template from ProjectManager

Why Use an Action Plan Template?

The action plan template is a useful planning document because it provides a framework for thinking pragmatically about getting work done in an efficient and effective manner. Using an action plan helps one order the project action steps in a logical way and ensures that you don’t neglect critical tasks along the way. Action plan templates facilitate the project planning process because they include all the essential fields for an action plan.

It’d be nearly impossible to plan a project, large or small if you don’t write an action plan format that allows you to chart the time and resources needed to get the job done. An action plan tells you who is doing what, by when and with which resources.

The action plan template is a useful planning document because it provides a framework for thinking pragmatically about getting work done in an efficient and effective manner. Using an action plan helps one order the project action steps in a logical way and makes sure that you don’t neglect a critical task along the way. Action plan templates facilitate the project planning process because they include all the essential fields for an action plan.

When you finish filling in your action plan template, all the goals, action steps and tasks are laid out in one place. This helps the project leader to assign or contract tasks as well as note priority levels.

It would be nearly impossible to plan a project, large or small if you don’t write an action plan format that allows you to chart the time and resources needed to get the job done. The name of the action plan is also helpful. It avoids jargon so your team members can clearly understand its purpose.

Project management software can turn an action plan into a viable project schedule. ProjectManager takes your tasks and puts them in a Gantt chart , where progress is updated automatically as your team completes their tasks. If a scheduling conflict arises, drag and drop your project timeline and every deadline adjusts accordingly. Plus, managers can monitor team workload allocation to balance tasks and keep their teams productive.

Gantt chart project view with timeline

Who Should Use an Action Plan Template?

Project managers are usually in charge of creating the action plan, keeping track of its progress and making sure the entire project team is updated. However, the action plan itself has individual team members assigned to each step and action item, which they are responsible for completing.

Usually, the project manager defines the goals, action steps, tasks, due dates and priority levels of the action plan. But larger projects have bigger staffs and there a project coordinator or other personnel might be responsible for the action plan. Whoever completes the action plan template, the project manager is going to have the final say and will have the authority to update it as plans change.

When Should You Use an Action Plan Template?

You should use an action plan format whenever you need to plan simple projects, manage your personal or team’s work, implement initiatives in your organization and other similar purposes. Action plan templates are meant to facilitate the execution of work by helping leaders and team members better understand the different tasks to be completed.

For larger projects, it’s advised to use project management software like ProjectManager , so you can plan with Gantt charts, kanban boards, task lists, project calendars and more.

How to Use This Free Action Plan Template for Excel

Our action plan template for Excel is broken down into three sections. One for listing action steps, one for building a timeline , and one to identify resource requirements.

1. List Your Action Steps and Action Items

As mentioned above, action steps are made up of tasks, or action items. The first part of this action plan template lets you list the action items for each action step, as well as task status, assignee and the phase it which it belongs.

  • Priority: Each task will have a priority attached to it. That is, it’ll be determined if the task is a high, medium or low priority, which helps you make a more realistic plan.
  • Tasks: This is where you list every task that must be taken to complete the action steps and achieve the project’s goal. Be thorough and brainstorm with the team. The more detailed, the better.
  • Phase: Here, you’ll note where the action step takes place over the course of the project life cycle, such as in the planning stage, execution, closing, etc.
  • Assigned: Determine ownership of each individual task by assigning it to a specific team member. They’ll then be responsible for seeing the task through to completion.
  • Status: Here’s where you chart the progress of the work done on each task. Enter a completion percentage or any status that you wish to assign to track progress.

ProjectManager's free Excel action plan template showing action steps

2. Estimate Time for Each Task

Once you’ve mapped out your action steps and action items, you can start assigning a start date and end date to each task and estimate their durations. This information will be needed to create a timeline.

  • Start date: This section is your schedule. Each task is tagged with a time in which it must begin to keep the project on track.
  • Due date: It is here that the due date is determined, so everyone working on that task is clear about when they must have it completed.
  • Planned hours: When planning, you have figured out how much time can be allotted to each task. Here is where you put that information.

ProjectManager's free action plan template for Excel showing task due dates

3. Identify Resource Requirements

Here you can list the resource requirements for each task. Simply estimate what resources will be needed and estimate a cost for them. There’s also a field to indicate which department is in charge of each action item.

  • Department: Which department is responsible for the task, marketing, dev team, etc.?
  • Materials required: What materials are needed for completion of that task, software, equipment, materials, site, etc.
  • Cost: What amount of funding has the budget allotted to this task?
  • Notes: Finally, this is a catchall for any information needed to capture which doesn’t fit in any of the other categories.

ProjectManager's free action plan template for Excel showing resource requirements for a plan

How to Create an Action Plan with ProjectManager

Although action plan templates are a good place to start your project management journey, they’re static documents. If you want to take your planning to the next level, you need to use project planning software like ProjectManager.

Because ProjectManager is online software, you can invite your team to the tool. No matter where they are or when they’re working, as they update their progress it will be instantly reflected on the software’s real-time dashboard, which can filter the information to show only what you want.

Then you can create graphs and charts to make that data easy to read and share with stakeholders or team members, formatting the graphics generally or specifically, depending on the person’s need.

gantt chart action plan template in projectmanager

As noted, alerts can be created to let team members know when the action plan tasks are near due. Alerts can also be set up so the team leader is aware of those impending due dates or if a task is overdue, which can help them reallocate resources or do other things to get the project back on track.

What Other Project Management Templates Can Help with Your Action Plan?

The action plan lays out the course you’ll take to achieve your project goals. Our free project management templates help you start to organize the sequence of steps to get you there. Our site features dozens of free Excel and Word templates you can download, many of which can help you create a better action plan. Here are some of our free templates:

Action Items Template

This free action items template is ideal to zoom into the tasks that make up your action plan. It’s a simple document that lets teams track their work.

Project Plan Template

Action plans are a great way to manage work. However, if you need to manage projects, our free project plan template is a great starting point to document all the different aspects of a project.

Gantt Chart Template

Gantt charts are the most popular project management tool because they turn plans into dynamic project schedules. Use our free Gantt chart template to create a visual timeline for your action plan.

Action Plans Tutorial Video

For more information on how to create and manage an action plan, watch the video below. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, gives you a number of crucial tips that can help you get the most out of your action plan template.

Related Content

  • How to Write an Action Plan (Example Included)
  • Project Planning Guide
  • What Is an Implementation Plan & How Do I Create One? (Example Included)
  • How to Plan an Event: Event Planning Steps, Tips & Checklist
  • What Is Aggregate Planning? Strategies & Tips
  • Operational Planning: How to Make an Operations Plan
  • How to Create a Project Execution Plan (PEP) – Free Template Included
  • The Best Way to Make a Work Plan

If you’re looking to take your action plan template to the next level, look no further than ProjectManager, a cloud-based project management software that has all the planning features you need to create and execute your action plans. From a real-time dashboard to online Gantt charts and dynamic kanban boards, our software supersizes your project management. Try it free with this free 30-day trial.

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  • Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement Excel Template

Michele McDonough

This tool will allow you to develop strategy based on your business' key goals and track your performance

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