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Corporate Strategy & Business Planning

Most companies got to where they are today because of a series of decisions taken to meet specific threats or opportunities, without properly considering the long-term goals of the company. Some companies have clearly defined objectives and their decisions reflect how these objectives can be achieved. In today's complex and changing world companies which are going to succeed will need a Business Plan.

There are four main phases in producing a Business Plan. These are summarized below, with more detailed information available by following the links. Before you start, you need to consider:

- the key elements of strategic business planning;

- time and effort involved in strategic business planning projects;

Thereafter, the stages are:

- Where we are now;

- What we want for the organisation and ourselves;

- Strategic Options;

- Actions to be taken.

Each of these topics are also discussed in more detail in our Detailed Guide. If you wish to download a copy of the guide, please click here Download Strategic Planning Guide.

Where we are now

During this phase the individual charged with producing the plan, often an outside consultant, talks to each of the key players in the company and discusses where the company is now and its good and bad points. At the end of this discussion a brief paper is produced setting out the Strengths and Weaknesses of the company and, as far as is possible at this stage, the Opportunities and Threats, also the PEST (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological) analysis, and any other essential analyses, such as that required for IIP. This is then discussed and amended with the key players. For further details see Assessment of Current Position.

What we want for the organisation and ourselves

In this phase the author / consultant discusses with the key players their desires both for the company and for themselves. This is then used to produce a brief document on the objectives of the company. Some discussion will be needed especially if the objectives of some individuals differ markedly from the rest. For further details, see Assessment of Objectives.

Strategic Options

In this phase the author / consultant analyses the information which he, or she, now has, and produces a document outlining the strategic options open to the company and the implications of each. The aim is not to select a specific option, or group of options at this stage, but some will be excluded for reasons which will be explained in the document. This document is circulated for discussion by the management and it may be accompanied by a note requesting decisions on certain points so that the options can be reduced. For further details, see Assessment of Strategic Options.

Actions to be taken

The author / consultant now identifies which options have been selected and why, and identifies the steps needed to achieve the objectives over the next three to five years, but especially over the next year. These will include reviewing the business plan and its assumptions every year.

Financial projections will also be prepared based on the assumptions made. These will include sensitivity analysis to highlight the points, which could most drastically affect the outcome.

For further details, see Finalising the Plan.


Business plans are best produced quickly. We aim to complete the whole process in around eight elapsed weeks, after allowing for holidays of key individuals. This requires that discussion documents are discussed quickly.

Typically, a consultant will spend around fifteen days of effort on the work over that period. This figure will increase if the number of people to be seen is large or complicated financial projections are required.

The people who are interviewed will have to give up one to two days of effort each, whereas the decision makers will also need to allow up to one day each for discussing each of the discussion papers.

Other areas of advice

In addition, there are certain other areas of advice, many relating to IT systems, where we can help, and which may arise before, during, or after, the planning process. These include:

- Resolving Conflict;

- Part-Time Management;

- IT 'Guru';

- Contingency and Disaster Planning;

- Computer Effectiveness;

- Staff Appraisal;

- Recruitment;

- IT Awareness.

These, and other areas, are discussed briefly, in Other Areas where we can Help.