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The 10 Most Popular Strategic Planning Templates On Our Site
Don’t waste time putting together your own strategic planning template. Adopt one of these and make it your own.
The basis of strategic planning is simple: Our organization is at point A. We need to get to point B in three to five years. What are we 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 around the world. I’ve been in this business a long time (over 20 years) and one of my first tips would be to start with a solid strategic planning template instead of trying to start from scratch. Remember, this is not using someone else’s strategy—that is tomfoolery—but rather using a template from which to build a strategic plan for your organization.
Why? Simply put, trying to put together a strategic plan, strategy map, or Balanced Scorecard sans template is a whole lot harder.
When you use a pre-made template, you save yourself the hassle of creating something from scratch. You can leverage other people’s experience and then focus solely on making it your own.
Below are our 10 most popular strategic plan templates. And by popular, we mean these resources have been downloaded a total of 130,000 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.
The 10 Most-Used Strategic Planning Templates On Our Site
Downloaded 32,000 times.
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 Your purpose statement is outdated, your goals are disjointed, and your leadership team is in different stages of frustration or dismay.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 can relate to that scenario, then this strategic plan template is about to become your best friend. It’s a 41-page process manual that guides you through the steps of pulling together your Balanced Scorecard. In the end, you’ll have a filled-out strategy map template and see a light at the end of this frustrating strategic planning tunnel.
Downloaded 30,000 times.
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.
Downloaded 24,000 times.
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.
Downloaded 16,000 times.
It won’t surprise you that another library is our fourth 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.
Downloaded 10,000 times.
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 (about 10,000 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.
Downloaded 9,000 times.
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.)
Downloaded 3,000 times.
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.
Downloaded 2,000 times.
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.
Downloaded 2,000 times.
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.
Downloaded 1,000 times.
Work for a municipality? You can use any of the above templates—but this one is specifically for you, and may just help you create the competitive edge you’ve been working toward.
This public-facing, three-layer website dashboard will improve your transparency so businesses and citizens in your area (and beyond) understand that you run a well-managed city. Not a bad deal huh?
Before you start filling out your shiny new strategic planning templates, let’s just lay this out flat:
Don’t fill out one of these strategic planning templates, make it your own...and then forget about it.
I know what you’re thinking; you’re not going to fall into that trap.
But even if that’s not your intention, it will take time and considerable effort to keep your new template in use across the organization. One way to ensure it is actually helpful to you (and not just a nice thumbnail on your desktop) is to get buy-in from your senior leadership team. This could take time but once you have an advocate in that group, you’ll help create more buy-in across the organization. In no time you’ll be the hero of strategic planning in your company.