Writing Business Strategy Plans

Jesse Hopps

Prepare for the Planning Process

  1. Build a Strategic Planning Team - engage a cross-functional planning team to represent each department’s needs. Hold a kick-off meeting to set strategic planning goals, schedule meeting times, and get organized for the planning process.
  2. Introduce the Balanced Scorecard Approach - review and distribute our Research Note “Map Strategy with Balanced Scorecard” to provide a framework to work from.
  3. Develop a Strategic Planning Charter - use our Project Charter template to document the goals and objectives for the planning process, and set plan completion timelines.
  4. Document Strategic Planning GAPS - evaluate your current strategic planning process and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool under the Strategy tab. You will be using this GAP Analysis Tool through the entire strategic planning process, so consider distributing this tool to the whole team.

Conduct an Internal Analysis

  1.  Benchmark Core Competencies - use Demand Metric’s Core Competencies Assessment Tool to benchmark your corporate capabilities and identify weaknesses.
  2. Establish/Update Key Performance Indicators - use our Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Worksheet to select or revisit metrics that are critical for monitoring performance.
  3. Analyze Business Data to Generate Insight - work with your I/T department or Analytics function to gather business information related to your KPIs. Key information includes: customer retention rates, segment analysis, revenue growth, campaign ROI, financial ratios, and metrics from each department. Use our Business Objectives Matrix for help identifying the information you need to make decisions.
  4. Document Business Data GAPS - evaluate your current business data & information assets and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool under the Business Data tab.
  5. Document Customer (CRM) GAPS - evaluate your customer relationship management infrastructure and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool.Document Marketing Automation GAPS - evaluate your Demand Generation & Marketing processes and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool.
  6. Document Sales Support GAPS - evaluate your Sales Support function and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool under the Sales tab.
  7. Document Performance Measurement GAPS - evaluate your Performance Measurement capabilities and add GAPS to our GAP Analysis Tool under the Measurement tab.



The GAP Analysis Tool will become the foundation for building your strategic plan. Its purpose is to help you brainstorm ideas for Goals, Targets, Timeframes, and Action Items for each core competency. These GAPS will evolve into programs & projects for each department/functional area of your organization.

Perform an External Analysis

  1. Complete an Industry Analysis - use our STEP Industry Analysis Tool to evaluate the Social, Technological, Economic, and Political conditions of your market segments.
  2. Perform a Competitive Analysis - use Demand Metric’s Competitive Analysis Tool and Product Positioning Tool to evaluate your competitive advantages and threats at both an organizational level and at the product level.
  3. Review Market Intelligence & Research - pull together your most recent market research data. Draw insights from the results and provide this information to your strategic planning team. If you are missing critical data, add these Market Intelligence & Research GAPS to the GAP Analysis Tool under the Market Research tab.
  4. Assess Market Conditions & Key Opportunities - based on your analysis, determine where the key opportunities lie for revenue growth. Additionally, take some time to consider industry trends and competitive developments. Document these opportunities in the Action Plan section of the STEP Industry Analysis Tool.


Establish High-Level Business Objectives

Use our Business Objectives Matrix to brainstorm and achieve consensus on which objectives are of highest priority. Add these business objectives to the Business Strategy Plan tool.

Audit Current Business Environment

  1. Profile Profitable Customers & Segments - use our Customer Profile template to analyze your customer “types” and review “Market Segmentation, Targeting, & Positioning” if you need help with defining your target market segments. This exercise focuses on what the organization is doing RIGHT.
  2. Analyze Department Capabilities & Constraints - delegate to the executive running EACH department, the task of completing a SWOT Analysis. This exercise will provide lots of ideas for how to improve each function, and highlight any major issues that need to be resolved.
  3. Audit Current Programs and Projects - based on your new high-level business objectives, assess each current program & project by department to ensure they are aligned with the corporate strategy. Use our Priority Index Tool to document each project and evaluate its business value.
  4. Conduct an Employee Satisfaction Survey - use our Employee Satisfaction Survey to get a feel for how staff views the corporate culture, and determine if a more “results-oriented” management approach would be readily accepted. For more help on this, read “Implementing a Results-Only Work Environment.” Add any major Human Resources GAPS to the HR tab in the GAP Analysis Tool.
  5. Compile Proposed Departmental Project Plans - if not already done, have each department leader document Project Charters for any initiatives they are looking to implement. This is a good time to consider “Standardizing Project Management” and improve this critical business process.
  6. Assign KPI Responsibilities by Department - based on your KPI selection exercise, assign ownership for each metric and tie these responsibilities to Performance Reviews. Use the KPI Worksheet if you missed that step in the process.

Assess New Program Business Cases

  1. Perform a Budget Analysis - work with your CFO to determine the budget for new capital expenditures and program investments for the upcoming year. A good heuristic is to spend 15-20% of net revenues on new strategic programs.
  2. Assemble Business Cases for New Programs - gather all Business Cases for new program investments. If you haven’t already, strongly consider making formal business cases a requirement for any recommendation to spend over 5K.
  3. Identify Options for Building vs. Buying - for any new investments, use our Build vs. Buy Decision Matrix to determine if you’re better to outsource or develop in-house.
  4. Evaluate Cost/Benefit, ROI, and Alignment - for each proposed program, determine whether your resources should be allocated, or saved for more strategic initiatives that fit better with the business objectives for the following period.
  5. Prioritize Investments & Schedule Work -  use our Priority Index Tool to rationalize spending and logically assess priorities based on specific, agreed criterion. Next, schedule resources to implement programs over the next 12 months.

Envision a New Business Environment

  1. Set Vision for Performance-Based Culture - use our Branding Selection Tool to re-evaluate your mission, vision, and brand values. If necessary, update your brand to reflect your commitment to a performance-based business culture.
  2. Brainstorm Organizational Development Ideas - determine which areas of organization development are most important and urgent at this stage. Consider training, knowledge management, and Developing Stronger Leaders. Document any Organizational Development GAPS under the “Org Development” tab in the GAP Analysis Tool.
  3. Identify Human Resources & Skill Set GAPS - based on your proposed projects, determine if you have the horsepower in-house to achieve your objectives. Document any Human Resources & Skill Set GAPS under the HR tab in the GAP Analysis Tool.

Analyze Business Environment GAPS

  1. Assess & Resolves your GAPS - your GAP Analysis Tool should be full of Targets, Goals, Timeframes, and Action Items. Do one last round of brainstorming with the leader of each department or functional unit to generate any final ideas. Next, review each tab to organize and prioritize all the possible programs, projects, and tasks that can be orchestrated to resolve GAPS in each competency area.
  2. Identify Key Success Factors for Execution - based on all the GAPS, select Key Success Factors (KSF) for each competency area. The senior management team is responsible for mitigating these risks, evaluating contingency plans, and ensuring that each KSF has adequate resources behind it.

Key Success Factors outline what NEEDS to be in place in order to achieve specific business objectives.

Implement a Governance Structure

  1. Standardize Decision-Making Process - determine the limits of decision-making power for each level in the organization. Set authorization and sign-off policies for department leaders who make smaller purchasing decisions. For investments over a set dollar amount, establish a policy to ensure the right executives are involved in the final decision.
  2. Measure your Governance Maturity - although our report is based on “Measuring Marketing Governance Maturity”, the concept can apply to any level or department of an organization. Benchmark your current level of governance maturity and work to improve your decision-making process.
  3. Establish a Steering Committee - read our report “Steering Committees Improve Program Success” and work to develop a Steering Committee Charter for your organization.
  4. Evaluate Dashboard Readiness - read our report “Implementing Effective Marketing Dashboards” and take our Dashboard Readiness Assessment to determine your preparedness for deploying a comprehensive performance measurement system. Your dashboard will essentially provide visibility into your KPIs and provide predictive insights.

Set Goals, Measures, Targets and Initiatives

  1. Build a Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map - using your GAP Analysis results, business objectives, and KPIs, develop a Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map that sets Goals, Measures, Targets, and Initiatives from Customer, Financial, Learning & Growth, and Business Process perspectives.
  2. Develop a Brand Scorecard - read our report “Establishing a Brand Scorecard” and use our Brand Scorecard Tool to set specific objectives for improving brand equity. This intangible asset often gets lost in the strategic planning process; be sure not to miss this critical valuation driver.

Prioritize and Assign Programs and Projects

  1. Prioritize ALL Programs and Projects - using our Priority Index Tool, prioritize ALL proposed projects, new programs, current projects & programs, and new strategic initiatives.
  2. Assign Programs to Department Leaders - delegate responsibility for key programs to the appropriate executives. Make it clear that the success or failure of these programs will have a direct impact on their performance review. Successful programs tend to lead to promotions, while failed efforts typically end in reassignment or dismissal. Now may be a good time to evaluate Project Management Maturity to determine if the right tools and process are in place to facilitate program planning, execution, control, and closure.
  3. Build Program/Project Plans & Schedule Work - use our Program Management Research Center for help with building project charters, and managing the process. Be conscious of the whole portfolio of initiatives to ensure you don’t spread your resources too thin.
  4. Determine if Consultants are Required - based on the skills and availability of your internal resources, determine if you need any outside help. Read our report “Selecting the Right Consultant” and use our Consultant Evaluation Matrix should you need to bring in a third-party.

Present Business Strategy to Stakeholders

  1. Organize your Business Strategy Plan - use our Business Strategy Plan template to pull together all of the analyses, assessments, and other materials you have use to complete your business strategy plan.
  2. Communicate with Key Stakeholders - develop a slide deck for presenting your plan, in parts or in its entirety, to your stakeholders and constituents. You may wish to post parts of your plan on your corporate website, partner and/or customer portal, or other areas that make sense.

Use the Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map to simplify your strategic plan for internal employees, and post signs in each department to keep your key business objectives at the top of mind for all employees.