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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

strategic business plan in a company

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of writing a strategic plan for your business? Do you want to create a plan that will help you move your team forward with inspired alignment and disciplined execution? You're not alone.

Gone are the days of rigid, 5- or 10-year planning cycles that do not leave room for flexibility and innovation. To stay ahead of the curve, you need a dynamic and execution-ready strategic plan that can guide your business through the ever-evolving landscape.

At Cascade, we understand that writing a strategic plan can be dreadful, especially in today's unpredictable environment. That's why we've developed a simple model that can help you create a clear, actionable plan to achieve your organization's goals. With our tested and proven strategic planning template , you can write a strategic plan that is both adaptable and effective .

Whether you're a seasoned strategy professional or a fresh strategy planner, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step on how to write a strategic plan. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive, easy-to-follow strategic plan that will help you align your organization on the path to success.

Free Template Download our free Strategic Planning Template Download this template

Follow this guide step-by-step or skip to the part you’re most interested in: 

  • Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation

Cascade Model For Strategic Planning: What You Need To Know

  • Key Elements of a Strategic Plan

How To Write A Strategic Plan In 6 Simple Steps

3 strategic plan examples to get you started, how to achieve organizational alignment with your strategic plan.

  • Quick Overview of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Create An Execution-Ready Strategic Plan With Cascade 🚀

*Editor’s note: This article is part of our ‘How to create a Strategy’ collection. At the end of this article, you’ll find a link to each piece within this collection so you can dig deeper into each element of an effective strategic plan and more related resources to master strategy execution.

Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation 

Before we dive into writing a strategic plan, it's essential to know the basics you should cover before the planning phase. The pre-planning phase is where you'll begin to gather the data and strategic insights necessary to create an effective strategic plan.

1. Run a strategic planning workshop

The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that’s not all. 

The process of co-creating and collaborating to put that plan together with stakeholders is one of the most critical factors in strategy execution . According to McKinsey’s research , initiatives in which employees contribute to development are 3.4 times more likely to be successful. They feel like the plan is a result of their efforts, and they feel ownership of it, so they're more likely to execute it. 

💡 Tip: Use strategy frameworks to structure your strategy development sessions, such as GAP analysis , SWOT analysis , Porter’s Five Forces , Ansoff matrix , McKinsey 7S model , or GE matrix . You can even apply the risk matrix that will help you align and decide on key strategic priorities.

2. Choose your strategic planning model

Before creating your strategic plan, you need to decide which structure you will use. There are hundreds of ways to structure a strategic plan. You’ve likely heard of famous strategic models such as OKRs and the Balanced Scorecard .

But beyond the well-known ones, there's also a myriad of other strategic planning models ranging from the extremely simple to the absurdly complex.

Many strategic models work reasonably well on paper, but in reality, they don't show you how to write a strategic plan that fits your organization's needs.

Here are some common weaknesses most popular strategic models have:

  • They're too complicated. People get lost in terminology rather than focus on execution.
  • They don’t scale. They work well for small organizations but fail when you try to extend them across multiple teams.
  • They're too rigid. They force people to add layers for the sake of adding layers.
  • They're neither tangible nor measurable. They’re great at stating outcomes but lousy at helping you measure success.
  • They're not adaptable. As we saw in the last years, the business environment can change quickly. Your model needs to be able to work in your current situation and adapt to changing economic landscapes.

Our goal in this article is to give you a simpler, more effective way to write a strategic plan. This is a tested and proven strategic planning model that has been refined over years of working with +20,000 teams around the world. We call it the Cascade Strategy Model.

This approach has proven to be more effective than any other model we have tried when it comes to executing and implementing the strategy .

It’s easy to use and it works for small businesses, fast-growing startups, as well as multinationals trying to figure out how to write a fail-proof strategic plan.

We’ve created a simple diagram below to illustrate what a strategic plan following the Cascade Model will look like when it's completed:

The Cascade Model for strategic planning and execution

Rather than a traditional roadmap , imagine your strategy as a flowchart. Each row is a mandatory step before moving on to the next.

We call our platform  Cascade for a reason: strategy must cascade throughout an organization along with values, focus areas, and objectives.

Above all, the Cascade Model is intended to be execution-ready —in other words, it has been proven to deliver success far beyond strategic planning. It adds to a successful strategic management process.Key elements of a Strategic Plan

Key Elements Of A Strategic Plan

The key elements of a strategic plan include: 

  • Vision : Where do you want to get to? 
  • Values : How will you behave on the journey? 
  • Focus Areas : What are going to be your strategic priorities? 
  • Strategic objectives : What do you want to achieve? 
  • Actions and projects : How are you going to achieve the objectives? 
  • KPIs : How will you measure success?

In this part of the article, we will give you an overview of each element within the Cascade Model. You can follow this step-by-step process in a spreadsheet , or sign up to get instant access to a free Cascade strategic planning template and follow along as we cover the key elements of an effective strategic plan.

Your vision statement is your organization's anchor - it defines where you want to get to and is the executive summary of your organization's purpose. Without it, your strategic plan is like a boat without a rudder, at the mercy of strong winds and currents like Covid and global supply chain disruptions.

A good vision statement can help funnel your strategy towards long-term goals that matter the most to your organization, and everything you write in your plan from this point on will help you get closer to achieving your vision.

Trying to do too much at once is a surefire way to sink your strategic plan. By creating a clear and inspiring vision statement , you can avoid this trap and provide guidance and inspiration for your team. A great vision statement might even help attract talent and investment into your organization.

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have a vision statement like, “To be the premier bike manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.” This statement clearly articulates the organization's goals and is a powerful motivator for the team.

In short, don't start your strategic plan without a clear vision statement. It will keep your organization focused and help you navigate toward success.

📚 Recommended read: How to Write a Vision Statement (With Examples, Tips, and Formulas)

Values are the enablers of your vision statement —they represent how your organization will behave as you work towards your strategic goals. Unfortunately, many companies throw around meaningless words just for the purpose of PR, leading to a loss of credibility.

To avoid this, make sure to integrate your organization’s core values into everyday operations and interactions. In today's highly-competitive world, it's crucial to remain steadfast in your values and cultivate an organizational culture that's transparent and trustworthy.

Companies with the best company cultures consistently outperform competitors and their average market by up to 115.6%, as reported by Glassdoor . 

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have core values like:

  • Accountability

These values reflect the organization's desire to become the leading bike manufacturer, while still being accountable to employees, customers, and shareholders.

👉 Here’s how to add vision and values to your strategic plan in Cascade: 

After you sign up and invite your team members to collaborate on the plan, navigate to Plans and Teams > Teams page, and add the vision, mission and values. This will help you to ensure that the company’s vision, mission statement, and values are always at top of mind for everyone.

📚When you're ready to start creating some company values, check out our guide, How To Create Company Values .

3. Focus Areas

Your focus areas are the strategic priorities that will keep your team on track and working toward the company’s mission and vision. They represent the high-level areas that you need to focus on to achieve desired business outcomes.

In fact, companies with clearly defined priorities are more likely to achieve their objectives. According to a case study by the Harvard Business Review , teams that focus on a small number of key initiatives are more likely to succeed than those that try to do too much. 

That’s also something that we usually recommend to our customers when they set up their strategic plan in Cascade. Rather than spreading your resources too thin over multiple focus areas, prioritize three to five. 

Following our manufacturing example above, some good focus areas include:

  • Aggressive growth
  • Producing the nation's best bikes
  • Becoming a modern manufacturer
  • Becoming a top place to work

Your focus areas should be tighter in scope than your vision statement, but broader than specific goals, time frames, or metrics. 

By defining your focus areas, you'll give your teams a guardrail to work within, which can help inspire innovation and creative problem-solving. 

With a clear set of focus areas, your team will be better able to prioritize their work and stay focused on the most important things, which will ultimately lead to better business results.

👉Here’s how you can set focus areas in Cascade: 

In Cascade, you can add focus areas while creating or importing an existing strategic plan from a spreadsheet. With Cascade’s Focus Area deep-dive functionality , you will be able to: 

  • Review the health of your focus areas in one place.
  • Get a breakdown by plans, budgets, resources, and people behind each strategic priority. 
  • See something at-risk? Drill down into each piece of work regardless of how many plans it's a part of.

add focus areas in cascade strategy execution platform

📚 Recommended read: Strategic Focus Areas: How to create them + Examples

4. Strategic Objectives

The importance of setting clear and specific objectives for your strategic plan cannot be overstated. 

Strategic objectives are the specific and measurable outcomes you want to achieve . While they should align with your focus areas, they should be more detailed and have a clear deadline. 

According to the 2022 State of High Performing Teams report , there is a strong correlation between goals and success not only at the individual and team level but also at the organizational level. Here’s what they found: 

  • Employees who are unaware of their company's goals are over three times more likely to work at a company that is experiencing a decline in revenue than employees who are aware of the goals. 
  • Companies with shrinking revenues are almost twice as likely to have employees with unclear work expectations. 

Jumping straight into actions without defining clear objectives is a common mistake that can lead to missed opportunities or misalignment between strategy and execution.

To avoid this pitfall, we recommend you add between three and six objectives to each focus area .

It's here that we need to start being a bit more specific for the first time in your strategic planning process . Let's take a look at an example of a well-written strategic objective:

  • Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

This is too specific to be a focus area. While it's still very high level, it indicates what the company wants to accomplish and includes a clear deadline. Both these aspects are critical to a good strategic objective.

Your strategic objectives are the heart and soul of your plan, and you need to ensure they are well-crafted. So, take the time to create well-planned objectives that will help you achieve your vision and lead your organization to success. 

👉Here’s how you can set objectives in Cascade: 

Adding objectives in Cascade is intuitive, straightforward, and accessible from almost anywhere in the workspace. With one click, you’ll open the objective sidebar and fill out the details. These can include a timeline, the objective’s owner, collaborators, and how your objective will be measured (success criteria).

📚 Recommended read: What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples

5. Actions and projects

Once you’ve defined your strategic objectives, the next step is to identify the specific strategic initiatives or projects that will help you achieve those objectives . They are short-term goals or actionable steps you or your team members will take to accomplish objectives. They should leverage the company’s resources and core competencies. 

Effective projects and actions in your strategic plan should: 

  • Be extremely specific. 
  • Contain a deadline.
  • Have an owner.
  • Align with at least one of your strategic objectives.
  • Provide clarity on how you or your team will achieve the strategic objective.

Let's take a look at an example of a well-written project continuing with our bike manufacturing company using the strategic objective from above:

Strategic objective: Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

Project: Expand into the fixed gear market by 31st December 2023.

This is more specific than the objective it links to, and it details what you will do to achieve the objective.

Another common problem area for strategic plans is that they never quite get down to the detail of what you're going to do.

It's easier to state "we need to grow our business," but without concrete projects and initiatives, those plans will sit forever within their PowerPoint templates, never to see the light of day after their initial creation.

Actions and projects are where the rubber meets the road. They connect the organizational strategic goals with the actual capabilities of your people and the resources at their disposal. Defining projects is a vital reality check every strategic plan needs.

👉Here’s how you create actions and projects in Cascade: 

From the Objective sidebar, you can choose to add a project or action under your chosen objective. In the following steps, you can assign an owner and timeline to each action or project.

Plus, in Cascade, you can track the progress of each project or action in four different ways. You can do it manually, via milestones, checklists, or automatically by integrating with Jira and 1000+ other available integrations .  

📚 Recommended read: How to create effective projects

Measuring progress towards strategic objectives is essential to effective strategic control and business success. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. KPIs are measurable values that track progress toward achieving key business objectives . They keep you on track and help you stay focused on the goals you set for your organization.

To get the most out of your KPIs, make sure you link them to a specific goal or objective. In this way, you'll avoid creating KPIs that don't contribute to your objectives and distract you from focusing on what matters. 

Ideally, you will add both leading and lagging KPIs to each objective so you can get a more balanced view of how well you're progressing. Leading KPIs can indicate future performance while lagging KPIs show how well you’ve done in the past. Both types of KPIs are critical for operational planning and keeping your business on track.

Think of KPIs as a form of signpost in your organization. They provide critical insights that inform business leaders of their organization’s progress toward key business objectives. Plus, they can help you identify opportunities faster and capitalize on flexibility. 

👉Here’s how you can set and track KPIs in Cascade: 

In Cascade , you can add measures while creating your objectives or add them afterward. Open the Objective sidebar and add your chosen measure. 

When you create your Measure, you can choose how to track it. Using Cascade, you can track it manually or automatically. You can automate tracking via 1000+ integrations , including Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets. In this way, you can save time and ensure that your team has up-to-date information for faster and more confident decision-making.

📚 Recommended reads:

  • 10 Popular KPI Software Tools To Connect & Visualize Your Data (2023 Guide)
  • ‍ How To Track KPIs To Hit Your Business Goals

Corporate Strategic Plan 

Following the steps outlined above, you should end up with a strategic plan that looks something like this:

corporate strategy plan template in cascade

This is a preview of a corporate strategic plan template that is pre-filled with examples. Here you can use the template for free and begin filling it out to align with your organization's needs. Plus, it’s suitable for organizations of all sizes and any industry. 

Once you fill in the template, you can also switch to the timeline view. You’ll get a complete overview of how the different parts of your plan are distributed across the roadmap in a Gantt chart view.

timeline view strategic planning corporate strategy

This template will help you create a structured approach to the strategic planning process, focus on key strategic priorities, and drive accountability to achieve necessary business outcomes. 

👉 Get your free corporate strategic plan template here.

Coca-Cola Strategic Plan 

Need a bit of extra inspiration to start writing your organization’s strategic plan? Check out this strategic plan example, inspired by Coca-Cola’s business plan: 

coca-cola strategy plan template in cascade

This template is pre-filled with Coca-Cola’s examples so you can inspire your strategic success on one of the most iconic brands on the planet. 

👉 Grab your free example of a Coca-Cola strategic plan here.

The Ramsay Health Care expansion strategy

Ramsay Health Care is a multinational healthcare provider with a strong presence in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

Almost all of its growth was organic and strategic. The company founded its headquarters in Sydney, Australia, but in the 21st century, it decided to expand globally through a primary strategy of making brownfield investments and acquisitions in key locations.

Ramsay's strategy was simple yet clever. By becoming a majority shareholder of the biggest local players, the company expanded organically in each region by leveraging and expanding their expertise.

Over the last two decades, Ramsay's global network has grown to 460 locations across 10 countries with over $13 billion in annual revenue.

📚 Recommended read: Strategy study: The Ramsay Health Care Growth Study

✨ Bonus resource: We've created a list of the most popular and free strategic plan templates in our library that will help you build a strategic plan based on the Cascade model explained in this article. You can use these templates to create a plan on a corporate, business unit, or team level.

We highlighted before that other strategic models often fail to scale strategic plans and goals scales across multiple teams and organizational levels. 

In an ideal world, you want to have a maximum of two layers of detail underneath each of your focus areas. This means you'll have a focus area, followed by a layer of objectives. Underneath the objectives, you'll have a layer of actions, projects, and KPIs.

Diagram of the Cascade Model framework showing the structure for focus areas, objectives, KPIs, actions and projects

If you have a single team that’s responsible for the strategy execution, this works well. However, how do you implement a strategy across multiple and cross-functional teams? And why is it important? 

According to LSA research of 410 companies across 8 industries, highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable. And this is what Cascade can help you achieve. 

To achieve achieve organization-wide alignment with your strategic plan and impact the bottom line, there are two ways to approach it in Casade: through contributing objectives or shared objectives .

1. Contributing objectives

This approach involves adding contributing objectives that link to your main strategic objectives, like this:

diagram showing contributing objectives in the cascade model

For each contributing objective, you simply repeat the Objective → Action/Project → KPI structure as follows:

contributing objectives with kpis and actions cascade model

Here's how you can create contributing objectives in Cascade: 

Option A: Create contributing objectives within the same plan 

This means creating multiple contributing objectives within the same strategic plan that contribute to the main objective. 

However, be aware that if you have a lot of layers, your strategic plan can become cluttered, and people might have difficulty understanding how their daily efforts contribute to the strategic plan at the top level. 

For example, the people responsible for managing contributing objectives at the bottom of the plan ( functional / operational level ) will lose visibility on how are their objectives linked to the main focus areas and objectives (at a corporate / business level ). 

This approach is best suited to smaller organizations that only need to add a few layers of objectives to their plan.

Option B: Create contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective

This approach creates a network of aligned strategic plans within your organization. Each plan contains a set of focus areas and one single layer of objectives, each with its own set of projects, actions, and KPIs. This concept looks like this:

Diagram showing contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective in Cascade

This example illustrates an objective that is a main objective in the IT strategic plan , but also contributes to the main strategic plan's objective.

For example, let’s say that your main business objective is to improve customer satisfaction by reducing product delivery time by 25% in the next quarter. This objective requires multiple operational teams within your organization to work together to achieve a shared objective. 

Each team will create its own objective in its plan to contribute to the main objective: 

  • Logistics team: Reduce the shipment preparation time by 30%
  • IT team: Implement new technology to reduce manual handling in the warehouse
  • Production team: Increase production output by hour for 5%   

Here’s how this example would look like within Cascade platform:

example of contributing objectives in cascade

Although each contributing objective was originally created in its own plan, you can see how each contributing objective relates to the main strategic objective and its status in real-time.

2. Shared objectives

In Cascade, shared objectives are the same objectives shared across different strategic plans.

For example, you can have an objective that is “Achieve sustainable operations”. This objective can be part of the Corporate Strategy Plan, but also part of the Operations Plan , Supply Chain Plan , Production Plan, etc. In short, this objective becomes a shared objective between multiple teams and strategic plan. 

This approach helps you to:

  • Cascade your business strategy as deep as you want across a near-infinite number of people while maintaining strategic alignment throughout your organization .
  • Create transparency and a much higher level of engagement in the strategy throughout your organization since objective owners are able to identify how their shared efforts contribute to the success of the main business objectives.

The more shared objectives you have across your organization, the more your teams will be aligned with the overarching business strategy. This is what we call " alignment health ”. 

Here’s how you can see the shared objectives in the alignment map and analyze alignment health within Cascade:

Alignment Map and Objective Sidebar in cascade for shared objectives

You get a snapshot of how is your corporate strategic plan aligned with sub-plans from different business units or departments and the status of shared objectives. This helps you quickly identify misaligned initiatives and act before it’s too late.  Plus, cross-functional teams have better visibility of how their efforts contribute to shared objectives. 

So whether you choose contributing objectives or shared objectives, Cascade has the tools and features to help you achieve organization-wide alignment and boost your bottom line.

Quick Overview Of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Here’s a quick infographic to help you remember how everything connects and why each element is critical to creating an effective strategic plan:

The Cascade Model Overview cheatsheet

This simple answer to how to write a strategic plan avoids confusing jargon and has elements that the whole organization can both get behind and understand. 

💡Tip: Save this image or bookmark this article for your next strategic planning session.

If you're struggling to write an execution-ready strategic plan, the Cascade model is the solution you've been looking for. With its clear, easy-to-understand terminology, and simple linkages between objectives, projects, and KPIs, you can create a plan that's both scalable and flexible.

But why is a flexible and execution-ready strategic plan so important? It's simple: without a clear and actionable plan, you'll never be able to achieve your business objectives. By using the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, you'll be able to create a plan that's both tangible and measurable, with KPIs that help you track progress towards your goals.

However, the real value of the Cascade framework lies in its flexibility . By creating links between main business objectives and your teams’ objectives, you can easily scale your plan without losing focus. Plus, the model's structure of linked layers means that you can always adjust your strategy in response to new challenges or opportunities and keep everyone on the same page. 

So if you want to achieve results with your strategic plan, start using Cascade today. With its unique combination of flexibility and focus, it's the perfect tool for any organization looking to master strategy execution and succeed in today's fast-paced business world. 

Want to see Cascade in action? Get started for free or book a 1:1 demo with Cascade’s in-house strategy expert.

This article is part one of our mini-series "How to Write a Strategic Plan". This first article will give you a solid strategy model for your plan and get the strategic thinking going.

Think of it as the foundation for your new strategy. Subsequent parts of the series will show you how to create the content for your strategic plan.

Articles in our How to Write a Strategic Plan series

  • How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model (This article)
  • How to Write a Good Vision Statement
  • How To Create Company Values
  • Creating Strategic Focus Areas
  • How To Write Strategic Objective
  • How To Create Effective Projects
  • How To Write KPIs + Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

More resources on strategic planning and strategy execution: 

  • 6 Steps to Successful Strategy Execution
  • 4-Step Strategy Reporting Process (With Template)
  • Annual Planning: Plan Like a Pro In 5 Steps (+ Template) 
  • 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade) 2023
  • The Right Way To Set Team Goals
  • 23 Best Strategy Tools For Your Organization in 2023

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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.

Improve Strategic Planning with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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6 Steps to Make Your Strategic Plan Really Strategic

  • Graham Kenny

strategic business plan in a company

You don’t need dozens of strategic goals.

Many strategic plans aren’t strategic, or even plans. To fix that, try a six step process: first, identify key stakeholders. Second, identify a specific, very important key stakeholder: your target customer. Third, figure out what these stakeholders want from you. Fourth, figure out what you want from them. Fifth, design your strategy around these requirements. Sixth, focus on continuously improving this plan.

Why is it that when a group of managers gets together for a strategic planning session they often emerge with a document that’s devoid of “strategy”, and often not even a plan ?

strategic business plan in a company

  • Graham Kenny is the CEO of Strategic Factors and author of Strategy Discovery . He is a recognized expert in strategy and performance measurement who helps managers, executives, and boards create successful organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. He has been a professor of management in universities in the U.S. and Canada.

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How to make a business plan

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How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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What Is Business Strategy & Why Is It Important?

overhead view of business strategy meeting

  • 20 Oct 2022

Every business leader wants their organization to succeed. Turning a profit and satisfying stakeholders are worthy objectives but aren’t feasible without an effective business strategy.

To attain success, leaders must hone their skills and set clear business goals by crafting a strategy that creates value for the firm, customers, suppliers, and employees. Here's an overview of business strategy and why it's essential to your company’s success.

Access your free e-book today.

What’s a Business Strategy?

Business strategy is the strategic initiatives a company pursues to create value for the organization and its stakeholders and gain a competitive advantage in the market. This strategy is crucial to a company's success and is needed before any goods or services are produced or delivered.

According to Harvard Business School Online's Business Strategy course, an effective strategy is built around three key questions:

  • How can my business create value for customers?
  • How can my business create value for employees?
  • How can my business create value by collaborating with suppliers?

Many promising business initiatives don’t come to fruition because the company failed to build its strategy around value creation. Creativity is important in business , but a company won't last without prioritizing value.

The Importance of Business Strategy

A business strategy is foundational to a company's success. It helps leaders set organizational goals and gives companies a competitive edge. It determines various business factors, including:

  • Price: How to price goods and services based on customer satisfaction and cost of raw materials
  • Suppliers: Whether to source materials sustainably and from which suppliers
  • Employee recruitment: How to attract and maintain talent
  • Resource allocation: How to allocate resources effectively

Without a clear business strategy, a company can't create value and is unlikely to succeed.

Creating Value

To craft a successful business strategy, it's necessary to obtain a thorough understanding of value creation. In the online course Business Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee explains that, at its core, value represents a difference. For example, the difference between a customer's willingness to pay for a good or service and its price represents the value the business has created for the customer. This difference can be visualized with a tool known as the value stick.

The value stick has four components, representing the value a strategy can bring different stakeholders.

The value stick framework

  • Willingness to pay (WTP) : The maximum amount a customer is willing to pay for a company's goods or services
  • Price : The actual price of the goods or services
  • Cost : The cost of the raw materials required to produce the goods or services
  • Willingness to sell (WTS) : The lowest amount suppliers are willing to receive for raw materials, or the minimum employees are willing to earn for their work

The difference between each component represents the value created for each stakeholder. A business strategy seeks to widen these gaps, increasing the value created by the firm’s endeavors.

Increasing Customer Delight

The difference between a customer's WTP and the price is known as customer delight . An effective business strategy creates value for customers by raising their WTP or decreasing the price of the company’s goods or services. The larger the difference between the two, the more value is created for customers.

A company might focus on increasing WTP with its marketing strategy. Effective market research can help a company set its pricing strategy by determining target customers' WTP and finding ways to increase it. For example, a business might differentiate itself and increase customer loyalty by incorporating sustainability into its business strategy. By aligning its values with its target audiences', an organization can effectively raise consumers' WTP.

Increasing Firm Margin

The value created for the firm is the difference between the price of an item and its cost to produce. This difference is known as the firm’s margin and represents the strategy's financial success. One metric used to quantify this margin is return on invested capital (ROIC) . This metric compares a business's operating income with the capital necessary to generate it. The formula for ROIC is:

Return on Invested Capital = Net Operating Cost After Tax (NOCAT) / Invested Capital (IC)

ROIC tells investors how successful a company is at turning its investments into profit. By raising WTP, a company can risk increasing prices, thereby increasing firm margin. Business leaders can also increase this metric by decreasing their costs. For example, sustainability initiatives—in addition to raising WTP—can lower production costs by using fewer or more sustainable resources. By focusing on the triple bottom line , a firm can simultaneously increase customer delight and margin.

Increasing Supplier Surplus & Employee Satisfaction

By decreasing suppliers' WTS, or increasing costs, a company can create value for suppliers—or supplier surplus . Since increasing costs isn't sustainable, an effective business strategy seeks to create value for suppliers by decreasing WTS. How a company accomplishes this varies. For example, a brick-and-mortar company might partner with vendors to showcase its products in exchange for a discount. Suppliers may also be willing to offer a discount in exchange for a long-term contract.

In addition to supplier WTS, companies are also responsible for creating value for another key stakeholder: its employees. The difference between employee compensation and the minimum they're willing to receive is employee satisfaction . There are several ways companies can increase this difference, including:

  • Increasing compensation: While most companies hesitate to raise salaries, some have found success in doing so. For example, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, increased his company's minimum wage to $80,000 per year and enjoyed substantial growth and publicity as a result.
  • Increasing benefits: Companies can also decrease WTS by making working conditions more desirable to prospective employees. Some offer remote or hybrid working opportunities to give employees more flexibility. Several have also started offering four-day work weeks , often experiencing increased productivity as a result.

There are several ways to increase supplier surplus and employee satisfaction without hurting the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, most managers only devote seven percent of their time to developing employees and engaging stakeholders. Yet, a successful strategy creates value for every stakeholder—both internal and external.

Business Strategy | Simplify Strategy to Make the Greatest Business Impact | Learn More

Strategy Implementation

Crafting a business strategy is just the first step in the process. Implementation takes a strategy from formulation to execution . Successful implementation includes the following steps :

  • Establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Set expectations and ensure employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities
  • Delegate work and allocate resources effectively
  • Put the plan into action and continuously monitor its progress
  • Adjust your plan as necessary
  • Ensure your team has what they need to succeed and agrees on the desired outcome
  • Evaluate the results of the plan

Throughout the process, it's important to remember to adjust your plan throughout its execution but to avoid second-guessing your decisions. Striking this balance is challenging, but crucial to a business strategy's success.

How to Formulate a Successful Business Strategy | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

Learn More About Creating a Successful Business Strategy

Business strategy constantly evolves with changing consumer expectations and market conditions. For this reason, business leaders should continuously educate themselves on creating and executing an effective strategy.

One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on best practices is to take an online course, such as HBS Online's Business Strategy program. The course will provide guidance on creating a value-driven strategy for your business.

Do you want to learn how to craft an effective business strategy and create value for your company's stakeholders? Explore our online course Business Strategy , or other strategy courses , to develop your strategic planning skills. To determine which strategy course is right for you, download our free flowchart .

strategic business plan in a company

About the Author

How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: May 01, 2023

Business development is usually confused with sales , often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long-term success. It ensures that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.

business development professionals looking over strategic plan

But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.

strategic business plan in a company

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Business development.

Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy — and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.

Business Development framework

It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.

Because business development can look so different among industries and businesses, the strategy behind this function is expansive. Below, we outline each step in the strategy and how to apply it to your business development plan.

Business Development Strategy

  • Understand your competitive landscape.
  • Choose effective KPIs.
  • Develop long-term customer relationships.
  • Implement customer feedback.
  • Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
  • Speed up your response time.
  • Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
  • Implement a social listening strategy.
  • Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.

1. Understand your competitive landscape.

Before you can develop a strategic plan to drive business growth, you must have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. When you know who your ideal customer is and what problem they are looking to solve with your product or service, research who else is providing a viable solution in your industry.

Identify other companies operating in your space. What features do their products have? How competitive is their pricing? Do their systems integrate with other third-party solutions? Get crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to your customers.

Featured Resource: 10 Competitive Analysis Templates

10 Competitive Analysis Templates

2. Choose effective KPIs.

How will you know if your business development efforts are successful? Ensure you can measure your goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of your business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are.

Featured Resource: Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

3. Develop long-term customer relationships.

Do you engage with your customers even after the deal has been closed? If not, it’s time to develop a plan to keep your buyers engaged. Building long-term relationships with your customers pays off. A grand majority of a company's business comes from repeat customers, and returning customers are cheaper to convert. Indeed, it’s famously known that it costs five times more to convert new customers than it does to sell to returning customers.

Not only are repeat customers easier to sell to, they can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your business. Additionally, customer testimonials can be used for valuable content that can attract your next buyer.

4. Implement customer feedback.

If and when you have customers who are willing to provide feedback on your sales process and offerings, make sure you hear them out and implement it. Your customers offer a unique, valuable perspective because they chose your product over the competition — their insights can help shape your strategy to keep your business ahead of the curve.

5. Keep your website content and user interface fresh.

When was the last time your company had a website refresh? Can you ensure that all links are working, that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is laid out and intuitive for those who want to buy from you?

Keeping your website up-to-date and easy to use can make or break the sale for customers who know they are ready to buy. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to get in touch with you or purchase your product directly (if that suits your business model).

6. Speed up your response time.

How fast your sales team responds to your leads can make or break your ability to close the deal. If you notice your sales process has some lag time that prevents you from responding to prospects as soon as possible, these could be areas to prioritize improvement.

7. Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.

No business development strategy is complete without a sales plan . If you’ve already established a plan, make sure to unify it with your business development efforts. Your plan should outline your target audience, identify potential obstacles, provide a “game plan” for sales reps, outline responsibilities for team members, and define market conditions.

While a sales plan primarily affects your sales team, it can inform the activities of your business development reps. A sales plan can help them understand where the business needs growth — whether it’s in a new vertical, a new audience, or a new need that’s recently come to light in the industry.

Not sure how to create a sales plan? Download the following template to get started.

Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template

Sales Plan Template

8. Implement a social listening strategy.

While social listening is mainly used in a marketing and customer service context, it’s also an essential practice for business development. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide. Naturally, social media is one of the best places to hear directly from consumers and businesses — without needing to reach out to them first.

In business development, you can use social listening to track what the general public is saying about your brand, industry, product offerings, product category, and more. It can help you identify key weaknesses in the industry, making it a prime opportunity to be the first to address those pitfalls.

Use a social listening tool to pick up on trends before they gain traction.

9. Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.

A key facet of business development is reaching potential customers where they are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring industry organizations, conferences, and events. This strategy will guarantee that your business development reps get valuable face-to-face time with your business’ target audience. The additional visibility can also help establish your business as a leader in the field.

Now that you understand what business development entails, it's time to create a plan to set your strategy in motion.

How to Develop a Strategic Plan

How to Develop a Strategic Plan

When we refer to a business development strategic plan, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through the flywheel . With a plan, you’ll close more deals and quantify success.

Let’s go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan.

1. Download our strategic plan template .

First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates. You can also create action plans for adding new locations, creating new product lines, and expanding into new regions.

Featured Resource: Strategic Plan Template

Strategic Plan Template

2. Craft your elevator pitch.

What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.

Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all , but a story. Others have their favorite types of pitches , from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 280 characters.

Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.

3. Include an executive summary.

You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.

You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition . Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.

Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business — without having to read the rest of your strategy.

3. Set SMART goals.

What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals . Remember, SMART stands for:

Featured Resource: SMART Goal Setting Template

Download the template now.

If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.

Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successfully upsell a customer and close the deal? To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.

This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.

4. Conduct SWOT analysis.

SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.”

Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.

Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.

Featured Resource: Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template

Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template

Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?

Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?

What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?

Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.

5. Determine how you’ll measure success.

You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals , but how will you measure it all ? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:

  • Company growth
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Leads generated per month
  • Client satisfaction
  • Pipeline value

6. Set a budget.

What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.

Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.

7. Identify your target customer.

Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:

  • Analyze your product or service
  • Check out the competition
  • Choose criteria to segment by
  • Perform research

Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.

8. Choose an outreach strategy.

What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.

Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?

If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.

Upselling and Cross-Selling

Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important that this tactic is used with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need — that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.

Sponsorship and Advertising

Will your BDR work with or be on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.

What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound , outbound , or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.

Strategic Plan Example

Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Strategic Plan Example

Elevator Pitch Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.

Here are some additional resources for inspiration:

  • Elevator Pitch Examples to Inspire Your Own
  • Components of an Elevator Pitch

Executive Summary Example for Strategic Plan

At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.

To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed-upon timeline.

  • How to Write an Incredibly Well-Written Executive Summary [+ Example]
  • Executive Summary Template

SMART Goals Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin’s goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

  • 5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]
  • How to Write a SMART Goal
  • SMART Marketing Goals Template

SWOT Analysis Example for Strategic Plan

Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same-day reams to our customers — something the big box stores cannot offer.

Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer-than-average sales cycle, which costs money and time.

Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better-targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with a big box store.

Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long, resulting in low revenue and slow growth.

  • How to Conduct Competitive Analysis
  • How to Run a SWOT Analysis for Your Business [+ Template]
  • SWOT Analysis Template and Market Research Kit

Measurement of Success Example for Strategic Plan

We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

Budget Example for Strategic Plan

You've laid out the SMART goals and the way you'll measure for success. The budget section's goal is to estimate how much investment it will take to achieve those goals. This will likely end up being a big-picture overview, broken down into a budget by a program or a summary of key investments. Consider laying it out in a table format like so:

Budget Example for Strategic Plan

  • Budgeting Templates
  • How to Write an Incredible Startup Marketing Budget

Target Customer Example for Strategic Plan

Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.

  • How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business
  • Make My Persona Tool

Outreach Strategy Example for Strategic Plan

Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.

Create a Strategic Plan for Business Development

Without a strategic plan, you can invest resources, time, and funds into business development initiatives that won't grow your business. A strategic plan is crucial as it aligns your business development and sales teams. With a solid business development strategic plan, everyone will be working toward the greater good of your company.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The success of any organization relies on its ability to attract, retain and develop top talent.  Talent acquisition  refers to the ongoing strategy and process an organization and its HR department uses to source, attract, evaluate, hire and retain the highly qualified new employees it needs to grow.

A well-crafted talent acquisition strategy has become a critical component for organizations seeking to secure a competitive edge. Beyond simply filling open roles, a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy encompasses a holistic approach to  talent management , from identifying organizational needs to nurturing relationships with potential candidates.

By recognizing the importance of a strategic and proactive talent acquisition approach, companies can position themselves as employers of choice. This approach can foster a culture that not only attracts the right candidates but also cultivates long-term success and sustainability.  

A talent acquisition strategy is a comprehensive plan that an organization develops to optimize its talent acquisition—the identification, attraction and retention of the right talent. It includes a series of interconnected processes and initiatives designed to align the organization’s talent needs with its business objectives. The strategy outlines the methods and processes for sourcing, screening and selecting candidates, while also focusing on employee retention and long-term development.

Talent acquisition strategy involves the use of various recruitment methods, technologies and practices. It enables HR professionals and the organization to build a strong employer brand, create a positive candidate experience and foster an effective, diverse and inclusive workforce. An effective talent acquisition strategy continually adapts to changes in industry trends and candidate preferences. It ensures that the organization’s talent acquisition efforts remain competitive and resilient.

An effective talent acquisition strategy includes elements designed to effectively attract, asses, identify and retain the best talent for the organization’s current and future hiring needs. The creation of a successful strategy should include these steps:

A compelling employer brand can set an organization apart, making it an attractive destination for skilled professionals. Many steps can be taken to build and enhance an employer brand, including:

  • Define the employer value proposition (EVP):  Clearly articulate what sets the company apart as an employer—what it stands for and the kind of working environment it offers. Highlight the unique benefits, opportunities and culture.
  • Create a compelling careers page:  Build an organized and informative careers page on the company website. Describe the application process. Use engaging content, images and videos to showcase the work environment.
  • Collect and share employee success stories: Let employees describe their experiences working at the company, including career growth, work-life balance and company culture.
  • Use social media:  Promote the employer brand on social media by sharing company news, employee stories and industry insights. Engage with potential candidates and encourage a sense of community.
  • Offer competitive compensation and benefits:  Meet or exceed industry standards for pay and benefits packages and clearly communicate these offerings to potential candidates.
  • Foster employee engagement and growth:  Create a supportive work environment that encourages employee engagement, professional development and career advancement.
  • Initiate employee advocacy:  Encourage employees to become brand advocates. Provide them with tools to share positive experiences on their personal social media accounts and professional networks.
  • Promote diversity and inclusion:  Widen the pool of top candidates by highlighting initiatives that demonstrate the organization’s commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Provide a positive candidate experience:  Streamline the recruitment process to ensure a seamless and positive experience for all candidates. Communicate with transparency.
  • Highlight work-life balance:  Showcase any flexible work arrangements, wellness programs or other initiatives that prioritize the health and happiness of employees.
  • Attend industry events:  Participate in conferences, webinars, speaking engagements, award competitions and other events to establish a presence and engage with potential candidates.
  • Monitor online reviews:  Respond to reviews, whether positive or negative, to demonstrate a commitment to improving and addressing concerns.
  • Measure impact:  Use analytics and metrics to assess the effectiveness of branding efforts. Monitor website traffic, application rates and employee referrals to gauge their success.
  • Seek feedback and continuously improve:  A positive candidate experience can contribute to a favorable employer brand. Gather feedback from candidates who go through the hiring process.

Conduct a thorough assessment of current and future talent that the organization requires to achieve its business objectives.

  • Conduct an organizational analysis:  Identify key areas where new talent is needed to support the company’s current and projected business goals and growth plans.
  • Determine short- and long-term talent needs:  Distinguish between immediate hiring needs and future requirements. Prioritize roles that require immediate attention.
  • Develop candidate profiles:  Create personas for ideal candidates and write detailed job descriptions for each role based on the skills and qualifications necessary for success.
  • Evaluate internal talent:  Encourage employee retention by identifying suitable internal candidates for open positions and evaluate existing employees to determine if they can be upskilled or reassigned to fulfill upcoming roles.

A diverse range of sourcing channels can effectively connect with a wider pool of potential candidates. Key sourcing channels include:

  • Company website:  Maintain an updated careers page on the company website that provides comprehensive information about the organization, job openings and the application process.
  • Job boards:  Post openings on popular job boards and career websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Monster to reach active job seekers.
  • Recruitment agencies:  Collaborate with reputable recruitment agencies and staffing firms that specialize in the same industry to gain access to their talent pool and sourcing expertise.
  • Social media platforms:  Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok to promote job openings, share company culture and engage with potential candidates.
  • Employee referrals:  Encourage current employees to refer potential candidates from their professional networks. Implement an employee referral program to incentivize employees to recommend qualified candidates.
  • Networking events:  Attend industry-specific networking events and job fairs to establish connections with potential candidates and build relationships within the industry.
  • Professional associations:  Engage with relevant professional associations and groups to reach candidates who are actively involved in the same field.
  • Employee alumni networks:  Reconnect with former employees who may be interested in returning or referring other qualified candidates.
  • Online forums and communities:  Participate in online communities and industry-specific groups where professionals discuss relevant topics and raise awareness about job opportunities.
  • Talent marketplaces:  Explore online talent marketplaces and freelance platforms to connect with freelancers and independent contractors for short-term vacancies or special project roles.
  • Direct outreach:  Reach out to potential candidates through emails, messages on professional networking platforms or phone calls to introduce the company and discuss relevant opportunities. 

Implementing a structured and comprehensive screening process can help assess candidates’ skill sets, qualifications and cultural fit. To develop an effective screening process:

  • Review resumes and cover letters:  Assess their qualifications, relevant experience and alignment with the job requirements. Look for key achievements, skills and career progression that match the position.
  • Conduct phone screenings: Assess candidates’ communication skills, professional demeanor and overall fit for the role.
  • Administer skills assessments: Administer tests or assignments to evaluate candidates’ technical skills, problem-solving abilities and job-related competencies.
  • Conduct multiple or panel interviews:  Gather diverse perspectives on each candidate’s fit for the role by arranging separate or panel interviews with key stakeholders.
  • Include behavioral interviews:  Use behavioral interviews to understand candidates past behavior and assess how they might respond to specific situations in the workplace.
  • Assess cultural fit : During the interview process, evaluate candidates’ alignment with the company’s culture and values. Ask questions that assess their work style and preferred work environment.
  • Check references:  Reach out to the provided references to verify the accuracy of candidates’ work history, skills and achievements.
  • Conduct background checks:  Include employment verification, education verification and criminal record checks. This validation of candidates’ qualifications ensures they meet the necessary requirements.
  • Assess soft skills:  Evaluate candidates’ soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, adaptability and leadership potential, during the interview process.

Here are some effective ways to improve the candidate experience:

  • Provide clear communication:  Ensure that candidates are informed about the next steps and the expected timeline throughout the hiring process.
  • Streamline the application process:  Minimize the number of steps required and optimize the application platform for user-friendliness.
  • Create transparent job descriptions:  Include the role’s responsibilities, qualifications and expectations and provide insights into the company culture and values.
  • Conduct engaging and respectful interviews:  Ensure that interviews are well-organized, respectful and engaging, with interviewers who are well-prepared, ask relevant questions.
  • Personalize candidate engagement:  Tailor candidate interactions to create a personalized and meaningful experience.
  • Offer constructive feedback:  Provide specific insights into their strengths and areas for development to help them understand how they can improve and grow professionally.
  • Ensure consistent employer branding:  Ensure that the candidate experience aligns with the employer brand. Maintain consistency in messaging, communication style and overall candidate engagement.
  • Provide responsive and accessible support:  Make it easy for candidates to contact the hiring team or recruitment professionals for guidance and support.
  • Follow up:  Express appreciation and provide closure on their application status, whether they are selected or not. Encourage them to stay connected with the company for future opportunities.
  • Gather feedback:  Implement satisfaction surveys to gather feedback on the overall hiring process. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement in the candidate experience.

By leveraging data-driven insights, organizations can make informed decisions, optimize the recruitment processes and improve the overall quality of hires. Here are several ways in which data and analytics can be used in a talent acquisition strategy:

  • Forecast talent demand:  Analyze historical data and job market trends to forecast future talent demands. This helps anticipate hiring needs and proactively source and attract the best candidates in advance.
  • Sourcing channel performance analysis:  Track and study the performance of different sourcing channels such as job boards, social media and recruitment agencies.
  • Candidate journey assessment:  Identify potential bottlenecks or areas for improvement at each stage of the recruitment process. This helps create a smoother and more efficient experience.
  • Application and hiring metrics:  Use metrics such as application completion rates, time-to-hire, cost-per-hire and quality of hire to measure the effectiveness of the recruitment strategy.
  • Candidate assessment and selection:  Implement data-driven assessment tools and techniques to objectively evaluate candidates based on skills, competencies and cultural fit.
  • Employer brand perception analysis:  Monitor and analyze online reviews, social media mentions and candidate feedback to gauge the perception of the employer brand.
  • Diversity and inclusion:  Analyze data on candidate demographics, hiring outcomes and employee retention to identify opportunities for fostering a more inclusive environment.
  • Return on investment (ROI) analysis:  Evaluate the ROI of different recruitment initiatives and strategies to assess their effectiveness in attracting and retaining top talent. Analyze the cost and benefits associated with each.
  • Predictive analytics for talent management:  Use predictive analytics to identify potential high-performing candidates, forecast employee retention rates and  develop talent management strategies .

Technology can play a pivotal role in enhancing various aspects of a talent acquisition strategy. It can enable organizations to streamline recruitment processes, improve candidate experience and make data-driven hiring decisions. Here are several ways technology can be leveraged as part of a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy:

  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS):  Implementing an ATS can help automate and streamline the recruitment process, from job postings to managing candidate applications. ATS platforms enable recruiters to track candidate progress, schedule interviews and communicate with applicants efficiently, creating a more organized and efficient hiring process.
  • AI-powered sourcing and screening:  AI can help analyze resumes, assess candidate fit and even conduct initial screenings, allowing recruiters to identify top talent more effectively.
  • Video interviews:  Save time and resources and get a more comprehensive understanding of candidates’ communication skills and demeanor by using video interviewing platforms.
  • Employee referral software:  Enable employees to refer potential candidates and track the status of their referrals. This technology can streamline the employee referral process.
  • Virtual events and career fairs:  Host virtual career fairs and events using online platforms to connect with a broader pool of candidates and showcase the employer brand.
  • Data analytics and reporting tools:  Data-driven insights can help recruiters make informed decisions, identify bottlenecks in the recruitment process and optimize hiring strategies.
  • Mobile recruitment applications:  Develop mobile-friendly recruitment applications and platforms that allow candidates to conveniently apply for jobs, submit resumes and engage with recruiters.
  • Candidate relationship management (CRM) systems:  CRM systems help recruiters maintain a database of potential candidates, nurture relationships over time and provide a personalized and engaging experience for each candidate.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives into recruitment can yield numerous benefits: improved innovation, enhanced employee morale and a positive employer brand. Here are more reasons why diversity and inclusion are essential to a talent acquisition strategy:

  • Enhanced innovation and creativity:  A diverse workforce brings together individuals with unique perspectives, experiences and backgrounds. This diversity fosters innovation, creativity and new ideas.
  • Improved employee performance:  Inclusive workplaces that value diversity often experience improved employee morale, engagement and overall job satisfaction.
  • Broader talent pool:  A commitment to diversity and inclusion in the talent acquisition process expands the candidate pool, allowing organizations to attract and retain an array of top talent.
  • Better understanding of customer needs:  Employees from different backgrounds can enable organizations to develop products and services that better meet the demands of a diverse market.
  • Positive employer branding:  Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are often viewed as progressive, inclusive and socially responsible, making them more attractive to job seekers.
  • Legal and ethical compliance:  Emphasizing diversity and inclusion ensures that organizations comply with antidiscrimination laws and promote fairness and equity in the workplace.
  • Adaptability to changing demographics:  Diverse and inclusive work environments are better equipped to navigate cultural differences, adapt to changing demographics and effectively engage with a diverse customer base.

Integrating diversity and inclusion into the talent acquisition strategy requires a comprehensive approach. It involves creating inclusive job descriptions, implementing bias-free recruitment practices, providing diversity training and fostering an inclusive workplace culture. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, organizations build a more dynamic, innovative and resilient workforce reflective of the diverse society in which they operate.

Building a talent pipeline involves proactively identifying and nurturing relationships with potential candidates even if there are no immediate job openings. Here’s why building a talent pipeline is an important part of a talent acquisition strategy:

  • Proactive recruitment:  By cultivating relationships with potential candidates in advance, companies can reduce the time and resources required to fill future job openings when they arise.
  • Shortened time-to-hire:  With a prequalified pool of candidates readily available, organizations can quickly engage and evaluate, leading to faster decision-making and onboarding processes.
  • Strategic succession planning:  A well-developed talent pipeline enables organizations to identify and groom internal talent for future leadership roles and key positions.
  • Reduced recruitment costs:  By continuously engaging with potential candidates over time, organizations can reduce their reliance on external recruiters, job boards and other sourcing channels.
  • Enhanced candidate quality:  Nurturing relationships with candidates over time allows organizations to gain a deeper understanding of their skills, experiences and cultural fit.
  • Improved employer branding:  Maintaining a talent pipeline demonstrates an organization’s commitment to  talent development  and recruitment, enhancing the employer brand.
  • Increased agility and flexibility:  Having access to a pool of qualified candidates enables organizations to adapt swiftly to emerging opportunities and challenges.
  • Long-term relationship building:  Regular engagement with these candidates creates a positive candidate experience, even if they are not immediately selected for a role.

Regular evaluation allows organizations to identify areas for improvement, make necessary adjustments and align the talent acquisition strategy with the changing needs of the business. Here are several ways that an organization can assess its talent acquisition strategy:

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs):  Establish and monitor specific KPIs related to the talent acquisition process such as time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, quality of hire and candidate satisfaction. Regularly tracking these metrics provides insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment process and helps identify areas for improvement.
  • Candidate feedback and surveys:  Gather feedback from candidates who have gone through the recruitment process to understand their experience, perception of the brand and overall satisfaction, as well as to identify opportunities for enhancing the candidate experience.
  • Data analysis and reporting: Assess the performance of different sourcing channels, the quality of candidates sourced and the success rates of various recruitment initiatives.
  • Continuous process improvement:  Solicit feedback from recruiters, hiring managers and other stakeholders involved in the talent acquisition process to identify bottlenecks, streamline workflows and implement best practices.
  • Talent market analysis:  Conduct regular analyses of the talent market to understand emerging skill requirements, industry trends, shifts in the labor market and adjust the talent acquisition strategy accordingly.
  • Internal stakeholder engagement:  Engage with internal stakeholders, including senior leadership, human resource management and hiring managers, to gather insights into the effectiveness of the talent acquisition strategy.

While attracting top talent is essential, retaining and developing existing employees is equally crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of an organization. Investing in employee development and creating growth opportunities within the organization can increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover rates. This saves the organization time and resources associated with recruiting and training new hires.

Enhanced employee engagement, employee experience, succession planning and the cultivation of a learning culture provides several benefits, including: clear career paths for employees help avoid leadership gaps, and contribute to the organization’s overall growth and competitiveness. All of this attracts job seekers drawn to companies that prioritize employee growth, learning and career advancement.

Still, the cornerstone of organizational success remains a forward-thinking talent acquisition strategy—driving growth, fostering resilience and positioning companies for sustained excellence in the years to come.

As a leading talent acquisition and skills development consultancy, IBM Consulting® works closely with clients to tailor solutions specific to their recruiting and skilling needs. Whether you are looking to address high turnover, enhance the recruiting technology stack, improve work force productivity, address skills shortages, or create an effective learning experience for a diverse workforce, IBM can provide customized strategies and tools across consulting, technology and managed services.

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More From Forbes

Navigating the data maze: ai's role in strategic decision-making.

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Gaurav Tewari, founder and Managing Partner of Omega Venture Partners .

From corporate boardrooms to manufacturing floors, the exponential growth of data is impacting businesses everywhere. In just three years, the total amount of data generated worldwide has almost doubled—growing from 64 to 120 zettabytes .

This increase in available data creates both challenges and opportunities when it comes to leveraging information for strategic business decisions. According to a study by Oracle and author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, over 70% of business leaders admit being hampered by the sheer volume; however, forward-thinking executives are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to help navigate the data maze and unlock actionable insights.

As a leader in the AI investment space, I have seen firsthand how AI is revolutionizing data analysis and business decision-making across industries.

The Rise Of AI In Strategic Decision-Making

While some business executives are successfully leveraging the growing availability of data to make more informed decisions, others have not been able to handle information effectively. According to the earlier cited study, 33% cite missed opportunities due to data overload, and 29% cite unnecessary spending driven by inconclusive data projects. Yet, the study also found that a striking 94% of business leaders have restructured their decision-making frameworks over the past three years, reflecting the urgency to align with new technological capabilities.

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This shift is also driven by external forces. Nearly four in five consumers believe that organizations that use technology to make data-driven decisions are more trustworthy and more likely to be successful. The ability to ground business decisions in robust data analysis has become a competitive differentiator, prompting executives to embrace AI-powered solutions that can swiftly parse vast informational volumes and surface actionable insights.

AI’s Multi-Faceted Decision Support

While AI's decision-support capabilities span numerous functional areas, I see four key application domains emerging as particularly transformative.

1. Strategic Planning

AI is particularly well suited for descriptive and diagnostic analysis, forecasting future scenarios and performing robust risk assessments. This can allow your organization to develop more robust scenario planning and informed strategies.

2. Operational Efficiency

AI can also optimize operational processes, including logistics and production schedules. In a recent McKinsey survey, 25% to 30% of respondents claim they are already using AI to drive results in supply chain management and service operations. Similarly, the technology can be used to assist in finding alternative suppliers, discover more about existing suppliers and even negotiate more effectively .

3. Marketing And Sales

Generative AI models are expected to amplify marketing productivity to the tune of $460 billion annually over the coming years. This will be accomplished by improving both the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing spend via improved customer targeting, granular segmentation and highly personalized customer engagement.

4. Risk Management

With unprecedented capabilities to quickly and objectively analyze a vast array of potential outcomes, AI has the potential to redefine how businesses assess risks from financial or operational changes. AI tools can allow executives and corporations to pursue innovation confidently while mitigating collateral damage.

Driving Results: Case Studies Of Successful AI-Powered Decisions

Verizon is one of many companies using AI-powered VR training to enhance customer service skills. By simulating realistic customer service scenarios, employees were able to practice and improve their empathy, understanding and de-escalation techniques in a controlled environment. The company concluded that the training resulted in marked improvements in employees' poise, verbal fluency and confidence during difficult conversations, contributing to higher customer satisfaction and more effective management of service challenges.

Decision-Making

The world’s largest ports, including Los Angeles, Rotterdam and Singapore, are using AI to enhance decision-making to optimize the functionality of the global supply chain. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (L.A. port complex), for example, which handle a third of all American imports , utilize an AI-powered application called Port Optimizer that helps streamline operations. Globally, I see AI tools increasingly being leveraged to revolutionize vessel scheduling, cargo transfers and congestion prevention.

Customer Preference

Netflix, the video-streaming pioneer, uses AI to analyze the preferences and behavior of each individual consumer and subsequently craft individualized, bespoke recommendations for a superior user experience. AI-driven models continuously nudge users to discover content they are most likely to enjoy, and 80% of all media viewed on the platform today is a result of these personalized recommendations.

Navigating Ethics: AI Augmentation

Ultimately, AI is an extraordinarily powerful paradigm for business applications that can effectively parse vast troves of data, suggest novel solutions and forecast future scenarios. And it can do so at a speed and scale that transcends human capabilities in order to efficiently augment human ingenuity and judgment. However, there are valid concerns regarding how much power the technology should have when it comes to actually making unsupervised and autonomous decisions.

I believe we stand at the dawn of the era where artificial and human intelligence will increasingly intersect and amplify each other's strengths. To mitigate the known limitations of contemporary AI systems (e.g., bias, hallucination, explainability) while leveraging their formidable capabilities, AI systems today should be viewed as assistants— informed, intelligent and rapidly improving assistants—but not yet ready to be promoted to the role of fully autonomous decision-makers. Those organizations that understand this limitation and how to navigate the best of both humans and AI stand to reap formidable rewards in this new era.

As of last year, a mere 7% of companies said they use AI in large strategic decisions, yet 75% of leaders believe access to robust AI systems can supercharge their ability to make informed decisions for a competitive advantage.

As AI's decision-support capabilities continue advancing at an astonishing pace, our ability to wield this power prudently and ethically will determine its ultimate impact. The road ahead requires fusing the ability of people to analyze context, think creatively and exercise moral judgment alongside AI's tremendous dexterity and scalable pattern recognition.

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Gaurav Tewari

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The role of strategic planning in business success.

strategic business plan in a company

Strategic planning is the cornerstone of building any profitable business. This process involves carefully outlining a company’s goals over the coming years while allocating resources efficiently toward attaining them.​ With today’s ever-evolving markets characterized by rapid technological progress and shifting consumer tastes, being able to strategically plan with precision has never been more essential; not only does this practice clarify the future trajectory for a business but it also aligns organizational efforts toward common goals for enhanced cohesion and focus.

Key Components of Strategic Planning

At the core of strategic planning lies several crucial components that ensure its efficacy. This process begins with creating vision and mission statements to outline your company’s purpose and values as a starting point for all future strategic decisions. Implementing specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives provides organizations with clear targets they can aim for. Conducting a comprehensive SWOT analysis — in which your company identifies both internal and external strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — is indispensable to understanding how its landscape functions. Strategy formulation involves synthesizing these components into an action plan with prioritized projects designed to leverage its strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses as well as any threats it might face.

The Process of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is not simply an academic exercise but an ongoing process that adapts as your business and its environment change. Initial steps involve setting clear yet realistic business goals, followed by an in-depth examination of both internal resources and market forces affecting your business. At this stage, strategies that not only are innovative but also meet both the company’s core competencies and market requirements must be devised. Once strategies have been created, their implementation requires careful consideration, resource allocation, and oftentimes significant organizational restructuring . Once implemented successfully, monitoring and evaluation are employed as measures of performance to assess whether strategies are meeting objectives while any necessary modifications must be made accordingly.

Benefits of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning has far-reaching advantages that extend throughout an organization. It significantly boosts organizational performance by aligning all departmental actions with larger strategic goals, thus eliminating redundant efforts and allocating resources where they will have maximum value-creation potential. An effective strategic planning program also enhances a company’s adaptability to rapidly fluctuating market conditions by helping it respond swiftly and effectively to opportunities and threats emerging within its environment. Furthermore, strategic planning aids resource allocation by more effectively outlining key priorities across an organization more efficiently; finally enabling proactive rather than reactive management by anticipating change with well-considered plans rather than quick reactions.

Strategic Use of Insurance in Business Planning

Insurance should be included as an essential element of strategic planning to reduce risks and ensure long-term business resilience and continuity. Insurance offers financial protection against losses such as liability claims or property damage claims that might otherwise incur. Strategic planning necessitates choosing insurance policies–such as liability, property, and professional indemnity–that cover risks specific to a business’s industry and operation. Good insurance coverage not only gives companies peace of mind but also supports their stability and growth by protecting against potentially catastrophic financial losses. Therefore, understanding and using insurance for business owners strategically are both integral parts of any comprehensive business strategy, acting both as shields against potentially devastating financial losses while helping operations run more smoothly.

Common Challenges in Strategic Planning

Implementing strategic planning effectively presents numerous obstacles. One such hindrance is resistance to change that may be deeply embedded within an organization’s culture. Employees and managers accustomed to routines may be reluctant to change, especially if this means significant alterations to workflows or roles. Without an engaging vision in place, efforts can become disjointed and their impacts diminished. Communication breakdown between strategists and other members of an organization may lead to misalignments between objectives and means for meeting them, leading to mistrust about goals and means. Furthermore, even well-thought-out plans may fail due to poor implementation   due to ineffective leadership, inadequate resources or a lack of commitment at different levels within an organization.

Strategic Planning and Risk Management

Risk management is an integral element of strategic planning that involves the identification, assessment, and mitigation of any threats that might inhibit an organization from meeting its goals. Companies incorporating risk management as part of their planning processes not only protect assets while assuring continuity but can also gain an edge against uncertainty or emergencies more efficiently.

Businesses use strategic planning as their roadmap; using its blueprints to navigate through challenges effectively while allocating resources effectively and capitalizing on opportunities proactively. By cultivating an organization-wide culture focused on clear objectives, risk mitigation and continuous adaptation – strategic planning ensures businesses not only prepare themselves for tomorrow but are shaping it according to their interests!

Strategic planning has become ever more essential to businesses due to global markets’ constant shift and evolution, acting as a guide during moments of doubt or volatility; providing guidance for growth; and modernizing processes so as to guarantee ongoing survival and expansion. For companies hoping to thrive rather than just survive, undertaking an inclusive strategic planning process should not just benefit but be mandatory for success.

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Artificial intelligence in strategy

Can machines automate strategy development? The short answer is no. However, there are numerous aspects of strategists’ work where AI and advanced analytics tools can already bring enormous value. Yuval Atsmon is a senior partner who leads the new McKinsey Center for Strategy Innovation, which studies ways new technologies can augment the timeless principles of strategy. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, he explains how artificial intelligence is already transforming strategy and what’s on the horizon. This is an edited transcript of the discussion. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, follow the series on your preferred podcast platform .

Joanna Pachner: What does artificial intelligence mean in the context of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: When people talk about artificial intelligence, they include everything to do with analytics, automation, and data analysis. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence research in the 1960s, talked about AI as a “suitcase word”—a term into which you can stuff whatever you want—and that still seems to be the case. We are comfortable with that because we think companies should use all the capabilities of more traditional analysis while increasing automation in strategy that can free up management or analyst time and, gradually, introducing tools that can augment human thinking.

Joanna Pachner: AI has been embraced by many business functions, but strategy seems to be largely immune to its charms. Why do you think that is?

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Yuval Atsmon: You’re right about the limited adoption. Only 7 percent of respondents to our survey about the use of AI say they use it in strategy or even financial planning, whereas in areas like marketing, supply chain, and service operations, it’s 25 or 30 percent. One reason adoption is lagging is that strategy is one of the most integrative conceptual practices. When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI capabilities that would decide, in place of the business leader, what the right strategy is. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy that could significantly improve outcomes.

I like to use the analogy to virtual assistants. Many of us use Alexa or Siri but very few people use these tools to do more than dictate a text message or shut off the lights. We don’t feel comfortable with the technology’s ability to understand the context in more sophisticated applications. AI in strategy is similar: it’s hard for AI to know everything an executive knows, but it can help executives with certain tasks.

When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI deciding the right strategy. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of tasks can AI help strategists execute today?

Yuval Atsmon: We talk about six stages of AI development. The earliest is simple analytics, which we refer to as descriptive intelligence. Companies use dashboards for competitive analysis or to study performance in different parts of the business that are automatically updated. Some have interactive capabilities for refinement and testing.

The second level is diagnostic intelligence, which is the ability to look backward at the business and understand root causes and drivers of performance. The level after that is predictive intelligence: being able to anticipate certain scenarios or options and the value of things in the future based on momentum from the past as well as signals picked in the market. Both diagnostics and prediction are areas that AI can greatly improve today. The tools can augment executives’ analysis and become areas where you develop capabilities. For example, on diagnostic intelligence, you can organize your portfolio into segments to understand granularly where performance is coming from and do it in a much more continuous way than analysts could. You can try 20 different ways in an hour versus deploying one hundred analysts to tackle the problem.

Predictive AI is both more difficult and more risky. Executives shouldn’t fully rely on predictive AI, but it provides another systematic viewpoint in the room. Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, a key consideration is to use AI transparently in the sense of understanding why it is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it is making from which information. You can then assess if you trust the prediction or not. You can even use AI to track the evolution of the assumptions for that prediction.

Those are the levels available today. The next three levels will take time to develop. There are some early examples of AI advising actions for executives’ consideration that would be value-creating based on the analysis. From there, you go to delegating certain decision authority to AI, with constraints and supervision. Eventually, there is the point where fully autonomous AI analyzes and decides with no human interaction.

Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, you need to understand why AI is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it’s making from which information.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of businesses or industries could gain the greatest benefits from embracing AI at its current level of sophistication?

Yuval Atsmon: Every business probably has some opportunity to use AI more than it does today. The first thing to look at is the availability of data. Do you have performance data that can be organized in a systematic way? Companies that have deep data on their portfolios down to business line, SKU, inventory, and raw ingredients have the biggest opportunities to use machines to gain granular insights that humans could not.

Companies whose strategies rely on a few big decisions with limited data would get less from AI. Likewise, those facing a lot of volatility and vulnerability to external events would benefit less than companies with controlled and systematic portfolios, although they could deploy AI to better predict those external events and identify what they can and cannot control.

Third, the velocity of decisions matters. Most companies develop strategies every three to five years, which then become annual budgets. If you think about strategy in that way, the role of AI is relatively limited other than potentially accelerating analyses that are inputs into the strategy. However, some companies regularly revisit big decisions they made based on assumptions about the world that may have since changed, affecting the projected ROI of initiatives. Such shifts would affect how you deploy talent and executive time, how you spend money and focus sales efforts, and AI can be valuable in guiding that. The value of AI is even bigger when you can make decisions close to the time of deploying resources, because AI can signal that your previous assumptions have changed from when you made your plan.

Joanna Pachner: Can you provide any examples of companies employing AI to address specific strategic challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: Some of the most innovative users of AI, not coincidentally, are AI- and digital-native companies. Some of these companies have seen massive benefits from AI and have increased its usage in other areas of the business. One mobility player adjusts its financial planning based on pricing patterns it observes in the market. Its business has relatively high flexibility to demand but less so to supply, so the company uses AI to continuously signal back when pricing dynamics are trending in a way that would affect profitability or where demand is rising. This allows the company to quickly react to create more capacity because its profitability is highly sensitive to keeping demand and supply in equilibrium.

Joanna Pachner: Given how quickly things change today, doesn’t AI seem to be more a tactical than a strategic tool, providing time-sensitive input on isolated elements of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: It’s interesting that you make the distinction between strategic and tactical. Of course, every decision can be broken down into smaller ones, and where AI can be affordably used in strategy today is for building blocks of the strategy. It might feel tactical, but it can make a massive difference. One of the world’s leading investment firms, for example, has started to use AI to scan for certain patterns rather than scanning individual companies directly. AI looks for consumer mobile usage that suggests a company’s technology is catching on quickly, giving the firm an opportunity to invest in that company before others do. That created a significant strategic edge for them, even though the tool itself may be relatively tactical.

Joanna Pachner: McKinsey has written a lot about cognitive biases  and social dynamics that can skew decision making. Can AI help with these challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: When we talk to executives about using AI in strategy development, the first reaction we get is, “Those are really big decisions; what if AI gets them wrong?” The first answer is that humans also get them wrong—a lot. [Amos] Tversky, [Daniel] Kahneman, and others have proven that some of those errors are systemic, observable, and predictable. The first thing AI can do is spot situations likely to give rise to biases. For example, imagine that AI is listening in on a strategy session where the CEO proposes something and everyone says “Aye” without debate and discussion. AI could inform the room, “We might have a sunflower bias here,” which could trigger more conversation and remind the CEO that it’s in their own interest to encourage some devil’s advocacy.

We also often see confirmation bias, where people focus their analysis on proving the wisdom of what they already want to do, as opposed to looking for a fact-based reality. Just having AI perform a default analysis that doesn’t aim to satisfy the boss is useful, and the team can then try to understand why that is different than the management hypothesis, triggering a much richer debate.

In terms of social dynamics, agency problems can create conflicts of interest. Every business unit [BU] leader thinks that their BU should get the most resources and will deliver the most value, or at least they feel they should advocate for their business. AI provides a neutral way based on systematic data to manage those debates. It’s also useful for executives with decision authority, since we all know that short-term pressures and the need to make the quarterly and annual numbers lead people to make different decisions on the 31st of December than they do on January 1st or October 1st. Like the story of Ulysses and the sirens, you can use AI to remind you that you wanted something different three months earlier. The CEO still decides; AI can just provide that extra nudge.

Joanna Pachner: It’s like you have Spock next to you, who is dispassionate and purely analytical.

Yuval Atsmon: That is not a bad analogy—for Star Trek fans anyway.

Joanna Pachner: Do you have a favorite application of AI in strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: I have worked a lot on resource allocation, and one of the challenges, which we call the hockey stick phenomenon, is that executives are always overly optimistic about what will happen. They know that resource allocation will inevitably be defined by what you believe about the future, not necessarily by past performance. AI can provide an objective prediction of performance starting from a default momentum case: based on everything that happened in the past and some indicators about the future, what is the forecast of performance if we do nothing? This is before we say, “But I will hire these people and develop this new product and improve my marketing”— things that every executive thinks will help them overdeliver relative to the past. The neutral momentum case, which AI can calculate in a cold, Spock-like manner, can change the dynamics of the resource allocation discussion. It’s a form of predictive intelligence accessible today and while it’s not meant to be definitive, it provides a basis for better decisions.

Joanna Pachner: Do you see access to technology talent as one of the obstacles to the adoption of AI in strategy, especially at large companies?

Yuval Atsmon: I would make a distinction. If you mean machine-learning and data science talent or software engineers who build the digital tools, they are definitely not easy to get. However, companies can increasingly use platforms that provide access to AI tools and require less from individual companies. Also, this domain of strategy is exciting—it’s cutting-edge, so it’s probably easier to get technology talent for that than it might be for manufacturing work.

The bigger challenge, ironically, is finding strategists or people with business expertise to contribute to the effort. You will not solve strategy problems with AI without the involvement of people who understand the customer experience and what you are trying to achieve. Those who know best, like senior executives, don’t have time to be product managers for the AI team. An even bigger constraint is that, in some cases, you are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important. There could be plenty of opportunities for incorpo­rating AI into existing jobs, but it’s something companies need to reflect on. The best approach may be to create a digital factory where a different team tests and builds AI applications, with oversight from senior stakeholders.

The big challenge is finding strategists to contribute to the AI effort. You are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important.

Joanna Pachner: Do you think this worry about job security and the potential that AI will automate strategy is realistic?

Yuval Atsmon: The question of whether AI will replace human judgment and put humanity out of its job is a big one that I would leave for other experts.

The pertinent question is shorter-term automation. Because of its complexity, strategy would be one of the later domains to be affected by automation, but we are seeing it in many other domains. However, the trend for more than two hundred years has been that automation creates new jobs, although ones requiring different skills. That doesn’t take away the fear some people have of a machine exposing their mistakes or doing their job better than they do it.

Joanna Pachner: We recently published an article about strategic courage in an age of volatility  that talked about three types of edge business leaders need to develop. One of them is an edge in insights. Do you think AI has a role to play in furnishing a proprietary insight edge?

Yuval Atsmon: One of the challenges most strategists face is the overwhelming complexity of the world we operate in—the number of unknowns, the information overload. At one level, it may seem that AI will provide another layer of complexity. In reality, it can be a sharp knife that cuts through some of the clutter. The question to ask is, Can AI simplify my life by giving me sharper, more timely insights more easily?

Joanna Pachner: You have been working in strategy for a long time. What sparked your interest in exploring this intersection of strategy and new technology?

Yuval Atsmon: I have always been intrigued by things at the boundaries of what seems possible. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s second law is that to discover the limits of the possible, you have to venture a little past them into the impossible, and I find that particularly alluring in this arena.

AI in strategy is in very nascent stages but could be very consequential for companies and for the profession. For a top executive, strategic decisions are the biggest way to influence the business, other than maybe building the top team, and it is amazing how little technology is leveraged in that process today. It’s conceivable that competitive advantage will increasingly rest in having executives who know how to apply AI well. In some domains, like investment, that is already happening, and the difference in returns can be staggering. I find helping companies be part of that evolution very exciting.

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Exclusive: Musk pushes plan for China data to power Tesla's AI ambitions

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Musk pushes plan for China data center to power Tesla's AI ambitions

  • Tesla develops plan for data center in China
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  • Tesla would need local partner for China data center
  • China data key to Tesla's pivot to AI

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IMAGES

  1. 32 Great Strategic Plan Templates to Grow your Business

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  2. 32 Great Strategic Plan Templates to Grow your Business

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  3. 32 Great Strategic Plan Templates to Grow your Business

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  6. 6 Step Plan

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VIDEO

  1. Annual Business Planning Workshop with Rhonwyn

  2. 2024—2026 Strategic Business Plan

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  6. Benchmarking and Measurement

COMMENTS

  1. Strategic Planning: 5 Planning Steps, Process Guide [2024] • Asana

    Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization's mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives.

  2. PDF How to write a strategic plan

    Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls. Challenge of consensus over clarity. Challenge of who provides input versus who decides. Preparing a long, ambitious, 5 year plan that sits on a shelf. Finding a balance between process and a final product. Communicating and executing the plan. Lack of alignment between mission, action, and finances.

  3. How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

    1. Run a strategic planning workshop. The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that's not all.

  4. Strategic Planning: How to Write a Strategic Plan That Works

    Putting your strategic plan into practice (our final step) is the key to making it all work during the strategy implementation plan, and getting these details 80% right in a timely fashion is much more important than getting them 100% right in a year. 3. Putting your strategic plan into practice.

  5. How to Develop a Business Strategy: 6 Steps

    3. Create Value for Customers. With an understanding of the market and your company's purpose, you can determine how your organization provides unique or greater value and strategize ways to improve. On the value stick, the value captured by customers is called "customer delight.".

  6. Quick Guide: How to Write a Strategic Plan

    Highlight the plan in a company newsletter. Include the plan in new employee onboarding. Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress. If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise.

  7. Strategic Planning Tools: What, Why, How, Template

    Strategic plans bridge the gap from overall direction to specific projects and day-to-day actions that ultimately execute the strategy. Job No. 1 is to know the difference between strategy and strategic plans — and why it matters. Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise. It articulates what the enterprise will do to compete ...

  8. Essential Guide to Strategic Planning

    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. ... which is more about imagining and innovating in a way that helps a company. In contrast, strategic planning supports those thoughts and helps you ...

  9. How to Create a Strategic Plan for Your Business in 5 Steps

    The most successful small businesses, corporations, and organizations never remain static for long. Their leaders continually look to the future, pursuing a slate of both short-term goals and long-term goals while angling for competitive advantages over rivals. These leaders define their organizations' visions and use strategic planning to achieve organizational goals within a fixed time frame.

  10. Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

    Benefits of Strategic Planning. 1. Create One, Forward-Focused Vision. Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company's goals. One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders.

  11. Strategic Planning: How To Create a Strategic Business Plan

    A strategic business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's vision, mission statement, and goals, coupled with a detailed roadmap to achieve those objectives. The plan takes account of the current business environment, provides insights into a company's competitive advantages, and helps identify key performance ...

  12. How to write a strategic plan

    Strategic planning is about finding a short list of the highest-impact projects. It's a filter.". The section is generally 10 to 15 pages long and includes these elements: Corporate directions — a broad overview of what you need to do to achieve your goals. Strategic priorities — a list of your main projects.

  13. 6 Steps to Make Your Strategic Plan Really Strategic

    Share. Save. Summary. Many strategic plans aren't strategic, or even plans. To fix that, try a six step process: first, identify key stakeholders. Second, identify a specific, very important key ...

  14. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years. Operational business plan. An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business.

  15. How to improve strategic planning

    We recently worked with a sales company to design a strategic-planning process that begins with in-depth interviews (involving all of the senior managers and selected corporate and business executives) to generate a list of the most important strategic issues facing the company. ... One industrial company assigns each business unit a color ...

  16. What Is Business Strategy & Why Is It Important?

    Business strategy is the strategic initiatives a company pursues to create value for the organization and its stakeholders and gain a competitive advantage in the market. This strategy is crucial to a company's success and is needed before any goods or services are produced or delivered. According to Harvard Business School Online's Business ...

  17. What To Include in a Strategic Business Plan (With Template)

    An annual strategic business plan should include 8 key sections. Follow these steps to write an effective annual strategic business plan: State information that defines the company. Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify business goals. Identify key performance indicators. Perform and summarize market research. Outline the business marketing plan.

  18. A practical guide to jumpstart strategic planning

    Jumpstart a better way to do strategy. This episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast features excerpts from an address that McKinsey senior partner Chris Bradley gave at our recent Global Business Leaders Forum. He discusses the eight practical shifts that executive teams can make to move their strategy into high gear.

  19. How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]

    Let's go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan. 1. Download our strategic plan template. First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates.

  20. Strategic Planning

    However, enthusiasm for strategic business planning was revived in the 1990s and strategic planning remains relevant in modern business. ... While planning requires a significant amount of time, effort, and money, a well-thought-out strategic plan efficiently fosters company growth, goal achievement, and employee satisfaction. Additional Resources.

  21. Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

    Company Bundling Business Model Plan Template. ... 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. ...

  22. Strategic Business Plan Template for 2024 Sample

    A strategic business plan is a document that defines the long-term direction of an organization, as well as its overarching goals and objectives. It is the essence of the company leadership's vision and a reference point for other long- and short-term planning documents.

  23. Strategy Consulting

    We've been a strategy thought leader for nearly five decades, and we bring unrivaled capabilities, tools, technologies, and talent to every engagement, augmented by an ecosystem of best-of-breed partners that provide specialized expertise. Our strategy consultants will help you mobilize for change, navigate uncertainty, and flex as needed, so ...

  24. Building A Successful Talent Acquisition Strategy

    Conduct a thorough assessment of current and future talent that the organization requires to achieve its business objectives. Conduct an organizational analysis: Identify key areas where new talent is needed to support the company's current and projected business goals and growth plans. Determine short- and long-term talent needs: Distinguish between immediate hiring needs and future ...

  25. Navigating The Data Maze: AI's Role In Strategic Decision-Making

    The Rise Of AI In Strategic Decision-Making. While some business executives are successfully leveraging the growing availability of data to make more informed decisions, others have not been able ...

  26. The Role of Strategic Planning in Business Success

    Strategic planning is the cornerstone of building any profitable business. This process involves carefully outlining a company's goals over the coming years while allocating resources efficiently toward attaining them. With today's ever-evolving markets characterized by rapid technological progress and shifting consumer tastes, being able to strategically plan with precision has never been ...

  27. AI strategy in business: A guide for executives

    AI in strategy is in very nascent stages but could be very consequential for companies and for the profession. For a top executive, strategic decisions are the biggest way to influence the business, other than maybe building the top team, and it is amazing how little technology is leveraged in that process today.

  28. Colossus Company 3 YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN (docx)

    Business document from International School of Business, UEH, 16 pages, UNIVERSITY OF ECONOMICS HO CHI MINH CITY SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AND MARKETING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SIMULATION REPORT 3YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN Lecturer: TS. Nguyễn Thị Hồng Thu Class section code: 24D1BUS50320105 Student: Group C - Colossus Company

  29. Exclusive: Musk pushes plan for China data to power Tesla's AI

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