Steps to preparing a Strategic Plan

In any organisation there must be a person appointed to carry the responsibility of developing the Strategic Plan.  This may be the CEO, a senior employee, a consultant or a board member with the appropriate facilitation and planning skills.

Step 1:  Strategic Plan Board Planning Workshop

  • Meet with the board and senior staff in a planning session facilitated using effective group work methods.
  • Establish a board consensus on values and principles that will underpin your future goals. These will form a base for the development and implementation of your operational (administrative and program) functions.
  • Review your past operation, listing successes and challenges of the past 1- 3 years.
  • Do a SWOT Analysis  to review the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the achievement of your organisation's current Vision and Mission.
  • List your Stakeholders and your Focus Community (customers or clients)
  • Establish the Strategic Goals for your planned future, based on your aspirations and an Environmental Scan. Check that your Strategic Goals fit with your constitution (if you are a Not For Profit organisation) or with your prospectus or owners' expectations (if you are a profit oriented business). You need to be clear that you have the capacity, resources and desire to pursue your Strategic Goals and you need to know the environment in which you want to operate, your position in it and your competition. Many tools can help you establish this, including Competitive Advantage Analysis and Scenario Planning.
  • Identify Risks (via a Risk Analysis) that may impede or assist the implementation of the Strategic Plan, taking into account the organisation’s Principles, Values and relationships with current or possible future funders or market places.
  • Establish a clear and current expression of the board’s strategic Mission and Vision.  (Ensure that these are consistent with the constitution and current service agreements or contracts.)
  • Then, as a board, determine the Strategic Directions that you will pursue to achieve your Vision, Mission and Strategic Goals in the next 3-10 years. (Examine the implication of the Strategic Directions and Risk Issues as they affect the current and future roles of the board and staff.)
  • Strategic Directions should consider all aspects of your business or organisation:
    • Service Delivery Focus, Levels, Quality and Standards
    • Governance
    • Financials
    • Environment
    • Communications
    • Social outcomes
  • Write a first draft Strategic Plan based on your board workshop.

Step 2: Consult staff

  • Discuss:
  • Staff responses to the first Draft Strategic Plan
  • Staffing implications of the draft Strategic Plan including the likely effectiveness of current staffing structure, levels and duty statements in achieving the strategic plan goals and objectives
  • Policies, procedures and administrative and organisational developments that may improve program and administrative effectiveness.

Step 3: Consult with Stakeholders (including volunteers and members in a NFP organisation.)

  • Facilitate focus groups or circulate discussion papers, web forums or blogs to gain stakeholders responses to the Draft Strategic Plan. Gather and respond to stakeholders ideas on matters affecting them:
  • Test the draft Strategic Plan by consulting with primary stakeholders who have been identified by discussion with Board, staff, members and funders.  You may also wish to consult with chosen clients or customers.

Step 4: Prepare Draft Strategic Plan Carried out by the CEO or designated Strategic Plan Writer:

  • Collates and analyse information from above meetings and consultations
  • Identifies and includes in the Strategic Plan desired developments affecting:
    • Organisational structure
    • Administrative functions
    • Funding levels and sources
    • Board operation
  • Prepares a Draft Strategic Plan with Strategic Directions addressing the identified future directions
  • Meets with board to discuss the Draft Strategic Plan and note board amendments.
  • Redrafts necessary aspects and finalises the plan ready for Board formal acceptance at next meeting.

Step 5: Board Accepts Strategic Plan

Board votes their acceptance of the Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan is now ready to act as a base for the development of the Action Plan component.

Step 6:  Action Plan Development

Development of the Action Plan is the responsibility of the CEO, Executive Director or senior employee of the organisation, who may delegate and supervise this work.

Consultation with and input by staff is vitally important as the action plan must take into account the workloads and abilities of staff.

The Action Plan contains all the components necessary to achieve the Strategic Plan directions.

The following components are included within the Meeting Success Strategic Action PlanTM

    • Strategies
    • Objectives (Key Performance Indicators)
    • Tasks
    • The person responsible to manage tasks
    • The person or authority to whom the ‘responsible person’ reports. (i.e. their supervisor.)
    • Timelines for start and completion of tasks
    • Time and money and other resources required to fulfil the tasks and strategies
    • Accountability, monitoring and reporting processes.

Summary and Overview

A Strategic Plan describes an organisation, its key relationships, its purpose and its directions for the foreseeable future (usually three years).

It is a map for the organisation, guiding Board and Management towards the agreed goals.

The Meeting Success Strategic Action PlanTM includes a one-page Strategic Plan of:

  • Context Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Values and Principles
  • Focus Community
  • Strategic Partners
  • Stakeholders
  • Strategic Goals
  • Strategic Directions

The Board develops the Strategic Plan and monitors outcomes using Strategies with key performance indicators stated as Objectives.

Staff and stakeholder consultations help create a powerful Strategic Plan.

Strategic Plans are living documents to be regularly referred to and monitored by the Board.

Strategic Plans are usually made public and are important in marketing the organisation.

The Action Plan lays out a project management process to achieve the Strategic Directions. It takes the Strategic Directions and expands them into:

  • Implementation Strategies
  • Objectives (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Tasks
  • Responsibilities
  • Timelines
  • Resources
  • Monitoring mechanisms

Management and staff develop the Action Plan, implement and monitor it and report to the Board using objectives and key performance indicators.

The Action Plan should be regularly referred to and updated by staff.
It is a tool to keep you in control of your organisation, enabling you to maintain your focus and direction and assisting you to take account of developments in and around your organisation or business.

Action Plans are for internal use and are not usually publicly accessible.

Strategic Plans come in many different styles or types, because organisations need to use a style that works well for their own board, staff and members, stakeholders or shareholders.  It is even possible to develop a Strategic Plan as a picture, rather than as a written document.

The single page Strategic Plan or the Strategic Action Plan lays the base for the development of the Action Plan and its measurable KPI’s, which guide the management and work of the organisation.

The Board is responsible for developing and monitoring the Strategic Plan.

Management is responsible for implementing the Strategic Plan and developing the Action Plan.  It is very important for staff to participate in both the development and monitoring of Actions Plans.

Although organisations usually make their Strategic Plans public, they do not usually make Action Plans publicly accessible. 

Strategic Plans and Action Plans are living documents that need to be constantly referred to, monitored, assessed and updated by staff and board.

This a paragraph or two describing the organisation, it’s work, the environment in which it operates including major issues, pressures and events that affect it and a little of the history that has shaped it.  The statement should contain just enough information for readers to gain a clear idea of what the organisation looks like and the issues that currently affect it.

A vision statement is a short ‘big-picture statement’ of what could result from the work of the organisation if it had limitless power and limitless resources to apply to its work.

Some Vision Statements examples are:

  • ‘Feed the world’
  • ‘Amaze the world’
  • ‘No child living in Poverty.’
  • A world free from AIDS

These grand statements have the effect of ‘pulling the organisation forward’, encouraging the organisation to see past its current resource limitations.  The Vision statement might not be finalised until all other aspects of the Strategic Plan are completed, although it is first considered in the initial stages of plan development.

A Mission Statement is a broad statement aligning with the organisation’s constitutional objects stating:

  • The purpose of the organisation
  • How the organisation will work to achieve its Vision Statement
  • Who the organisation serves in broad terms.  (More specific identification of who the organisation serves appears in the later Community of Focus category.

This is a set of short statements about the:
- Values the organisation holds important &
- Principles that underlie its service delivery processes.

The Community of Focus is a dot point list or short description of the organisation’s clients, customers or consumers.

Strategic Partners are organisations or people with whom there are formal agreements about shared actions to provide services or products. Funders such Government Departments are usually included as 'stakeholders', rather than as Strategic Partners, as they purchase services from organisations rather than form partnerships, (even if they say that is what they are doing.)

The Stakeholders list includes all the  of people who may be affected by service provision and the actions of the business, organisation or service provider.  These are people who need to be considered in providing services or products.

Stakeholders can include individuals, organisations or businesses, all levels of governments, clients and their families, neighbours of the service.  In some circumstances it may include even the neighbours of clients, customers or consumers. 


Your Strategic Goals are the achievements that you want for your business or organisation in the longer term foreseeable future. These are normally a set of 4-6 longer term goals that guide the develpment of Strategic Directions which focus on the specific aims and consequent strategies to achieve your Goals.

Directions are clear statements stating specific program or service delivery goals or achievements that you wish to achieve in the plan period:

Although the Strategic Action Plan will allow you to enter up to seven Directions, it is recommended that only six are included, as this helps focus the plan and keeps it achievable.

In the later ‘Actions and Tasks’ section of the Strategic Action Plan you will be asked to build on the Directions by determining:

  • Strategies for how you will achieve the Directions (goals). 
  • Objectives for each Strategy and the Tasks required for fulfilment of the Objectives.


Action Plans are sometimes called Business, Implementation or Corporate Plans

They expand Strategic Plan Directions and Strategies by giving details about how these will be implemented using specified tasks.

Action Plans are used to plan, deliver and monitor actions to achieve Strategic Directions.

They include sections in which the writer states tasks and actions in specific detail for the first year of the plan and (allowably) lesser detail for the Plan’s second and third years.

Contents of a fully operational Action Plan
An Action Plan includes Objectives for each Strategic Plan Direction, providing the Key Performance Indicators needed for reporting to the Board.

To create a fully operational Action Plan, and Strategy requires the following information to support the objectives:

  • Tasks that will be undertaken to achieve the preceding Objective
  • Person responsible to implement or manage each specific task
  • Person or body to whom the person managing task reports
  • Start date for each task
  • Completion date for each task
  • Monitoring process to be used to review action
  • Money allocated to the task
  • Time allocated to the task
  • Other resources allocated to the task
  • Reporting dates

This detailed information is used in monitoring and reporting to a Task Manager and their Supervisor and may be used to prepare Board reports.

If money and time allocations are included within the Action Plan, these can be recorded as Project budgets.  These project budgets can be called on to assist in preparing the overall budget for the agency, organisation or business.


Action Plan reporting should address Strategic Plan Directions, Strategies and Objectives. Reports are usually provided to the board via the CEO, but in larger or in very small organisations additional staff may report direct to te board.  Written reports may be supplemented by formal or informal meetings of staff with the Board so that the Board can gain indepth information to assist in its effective governance of the organisation.