April 17, 2023
The basis of strategic planning is simple: Your organization is at point A. You need to get to point B in three to five years. What are you going to do to make that happen?
Creating this vision is straightforward (and usually pretty fun). But actually managing the strategic plan that executes this vision isn’t always simple...or fun. In fact, looking at your strategic plan on a regular basis throughout the year and actually taking the steps to achieve the plan described above is something that tangles up many organizations. I’ve been in this business over 20 years and one of my first tips would be to start with a solid strategic plan template instead of trying to start from scratch.
What is a strategic plan template?
It’s a premade tool you can use to flesh out the various elements of your strategy—a technique that allows you to follow the example of others, without having to recreate each component from scratch.
One important thing to remember: Using templates doesn’t mean using someone else’s strategy. Rather, it means building your own strategic plan using the template as a jumping-off point.
But trust us—trying to put together a strategic plan, strategy map, or Balanced Scorecard sans template is a whole lot harder. Why do that when you can leverage other people’s experience, and then focus on making a strategy of your own?
Below are our 15 most popular strategic plan templates. And by popular, we mean these resources have been downloaded a total of 350,000 times. Each was created with a different audience in mind, so take a look at the descriptions below to determine which ones are best for your organization.
Does the following sound like your situation?
Your strategic planning process could be described as anything from a bit of a circus to an absolute nightmare. Your purpose statement is outdated, your goals are disjointed, and your leadership team is in different stages of frustration or dismay. You’re ready for change but aren’t exactly sure how to get started.
If you’re familiar with the ClearPoint blog, you’ve no doubt read about using Excel for reporting or as a Balanced Scorecard template. While it’s essentially free, simple enough to use, and familiar to most people, there are challenges involved ranging from data entry errors to collaboration difficulties if you choose Excel for your reporting.
That said, if you’re just getting started with the Balanced Scorecard, compiling your data in Excel may be a logical first step before migrating to more robust scorecarding software. Sound like your situation? Sweet. Then this no-nonsense, single-page Excel scorecard will be right up your alley.
It allows you to visualize how your measures and objectives are connected (and how/if they’re in line with your strategy), and track your KPI targets to make sure you’ll meet your goals.
We’ll give you one guess as to which type of metrics are the most commonly used. If you said “financial,” you’d be right.
As the old saying goes, numbers never lie and this couldn’t be more true than with financial KPIs. These indicators are important for every type of organization because they reveal clear, indisputable truths about progress. You can see if you’re reaching or missing your goals, and why. Plus, you have the means to compare your success to competitors and determine if you’re above or below the bar that’s been set for your industry.
Which specific financial KPIs should you monitor? Well, that can be tricky and it really depends on the goals and priorities of your organization. To give you somewhere to start, we gathered a huge list of financial indicators you can choose from—all of them will help you operate more strategically instead of relying on guesstimates.
This KPI library includes 68 important financial KPIs and descriptions of each, which you can download in a user-friendly Excel format.
HR metrics provide a different perspective on your performance than financial metrics, but they’re just as useful: HR metrics help organizations make the important people-related decisions—around hiring, turnover, culture, employee performance, etc.—that have a direct effect on organizational performance. Having the ability to hire and retain the right talent is often regarded as one of the greatest predictors of organizational success. Additionally, HR metrics are useful for keeping staff focused on activities that support the department’s—and the company’s—overall goals.
The HR metrics you choose should be tied to your business goals, so you won’t want to use anywhere near the 48 HR KPIs in this resource! Determine the critical few KPIs that are in line with your strategy—perhaps one for every major HR goal and people management issue or opportunity—so you can focus on following through.
It won’t surprise you that another KPI library is our fifth most popular strategic plan template. These KPI lists are go-to resources when you need straightforward, specific advice you can implement immediately.
The Customer KPI Library is no different. Virtually all organizations have customers, clients, citizens, or consumers they need to keep happy, which requires understanding their needs and behaviors. Monitoring and measuring the right indicators will help you dial in to shifting customer demands, so you can exceed expectations and address any negative perceptions before they snowball.
This resource includes 53 valuable customer KPIs, with definitions, in an accessible Excel format.
There’s no single right way to chart a path to achieving your goals; in fact, there are plenty! All strategic planning models are designed for the same purpose, they just have different ways of getting you there. In this download, we compiled templates for eight of the most popular strategic planning frameworks into one Excel document. You don't need to (and shouldn't) use all of them, but check them out and choose the template that works best for your organization.
Jeopardy! juggernaut Ken Jennings once said, “Even before you understand them, your brain is drawn to maps.” He’s right—we are drawn to them (nearly 24,000 times, in this case!). Whether they’re depicting elevations and landscapes or goals and strategies, maps are intriguing and memorable because they convey a lot of information with simple graphics.
For companies, maps are incredibly valuable tools to organize, explain, and communicate strategies. A Balanced Scorecard is one of the most common formats for strategy maps and an effective way to stay focused on your goals. Sometimes seeing is believing, so we pulled together five examples of strategy maps from real-life, for-profit companies in four different industries. Check them out to get ideas for your own organization.
Not many businesses can say that the quality of their products or services could literally mean the difference between life and death, but for healthcare organizations, it’s the truth. On top of that, change is a constant in healthcare—there’s always a new regulation just around the corner. For both these reasons, performance monitoring is a must.
A healthcare KPI helps you understand how your organization is performing across a multitude of areas, from patient care and operations to finances and community relations. A good KPI should be well defined, quantifiable, and crucial to achieving your strategic goals. This resource includes more than 100 sample healthcare metrics as examples—choose the ones that are relevant to your organization’s needs, or use them as inspiration for measuring progress toward your own unique objectives.
For-profits aren’t the only ones that benefit from using strategy maps—medical and healthcare organizations can, too. The trick is to create a map that isn’t overly complicated, yet still manages to clearly convey the key “landmarks” that will define your future success.
It can be hard to know what that looks like in practice, so we gathered a few Balanced Scorecard strategy map examples from the healthcare field and included them in this download. The information presented in this offering pertains specifically to the various types of healthcare systems and institutions.
Next question: Are you able to objectively evaluate your measures and goals?
In other words, can you keep emotion out of your evaluations? Do you know if you’re really executing well on your strategy from the data you’re gathering?
If you’re even a bit hesitant on this, try this toolkit. You’ll learn about establishing RAG statuses, automating the evaluation process, and helping leadership make better choices. (Note that having goals and measures is a prerequisite for this toolkit to be helpful.)
Creating a solid internal reporting process is no easy task. But it’s also incredibly important to outline how reporting should be done in your organization, ranging from scorecard management to meeting preparation. Without proper reporting, you won’t be able to track progress, pinpoint problems, or achieve goals.
Not sure how to tackle this big job? Check out this all-inclusive guide, which includes best practices on strategic reporting and policy. It explains the strategic planning process and gives tips on how to create a successful reporting guide. You’ll have all the information you need to create a reporting process that works.
To advance their mission, nonprofits and charitable organizations should also engage in strategic planning. Like for-profit companies, strategy maps for nonprofits serve as a communication tool that engages internal teams and even community members, helping to rally everyone behind the shared mission. This download includes a few strategy map best practices, as well as a number of useful examples for social and public-sector organizations.
Most of the work being done at organizations today is project-based, which is why the demand for project managers has risen rapidly in recent years. (It’s also the reason why good project management matters.) But before you worry about things like budgets and timelines, it’s crucial to take a step back and make sure you’re managing the right projects—the ones that align with your strategy and will actually help you achieve your organization’s goals.
If your organization is trying to learn more about strategic project management, use this download as your “getting started” guide. It will help you think through your approach to projects, including how to define and prioritize them, and make sure they link back to your strategy. This ebook is chock full of pro tips and helpful examples that will take your project management skills to the next level.
Gantt charts help you visually lay out the length and progress of a particular project all in one place. They’re very helpful in project management—and this Excel template makes it a cinch to create one!
This template is a great way to get your team on the same page for what is on track and off track, and it will help you facilitate a discussion about what to do for next steps. You’ll get some instructions and directions for the template, details on initiatives and supporting milestones, and a graph that auto-populates to show progress toward your goals.
Too many meetings are all talk and no action. A lot of great ideas may be floated around, but they just disappear when everyone leaves the room. Strategy review meetings are notorious for this “disappearing act” because many of the topics are high-level and visionary, which can be challenging to break down into specific execution steps.
The ability to make strategy review meetings useful is a skill—a skill you can easily learn if you think your reviews are going off the rails too often. There are several key elements to focus on and they are all included in this 40-page book, aptly titled “How To Lead Effective Strategy Review Meetings.” You’ll read about the best structure for strategy meetings, tips for creating action items, and pitfalls to avoid.
Before you start filling out your shiny new strategic planning templates, let’s just lay this out flat:
I know what you’re thinking; you’re not going to fall into that trap.
But even if that’s not your intention, it will take time and considerable effort to keep your new template in use across the organization. One way to ensure it is actually helpful to you (and not just a nice thumbnail on your desktop) is to get buy-in from your senior leadership team. This could take time, but once you have an advocate in that group, you’ll help create more buy-in across the organization. In no time you’ll be the hero of strategic planning in your company.