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Time and Effort Required

Programme of work

A typical assignment starts with a briefing for the senior staff involved, followed by a series of interviews, commonly lasting 1 to 1½ hours, with each of the key members of staff, plus a representative sample of the remainder of the workforce. Within a week of the last interview, longer if a large number of people have been interviewed, the participants should receive the first discussion document (the SWOT analysis) and the person undertaking the preparation of the strategy / plan moves on to the other details of the current position, as well as interviewing the key individuals on the objectives as they see them.

Over a period of 8 to 10 weeks, you should aim to produce a series of discussion documents, at each key stage of the process, for review and discussion by the management team. This allows the team to be aware of progress and to contribute regularly as the project continues.

Once the final decision has been made, you should produce the action plan, identifying the tasks to be undertaken, by whom and when, to achieve the desired outcome and then consolidate the discussion documents into a formal strategic plan, with any appropriate summary documents which may be required.


The fastest practicable timescale to achieve a full plan is around 8 weeks, assuming that all interviewees are available when required and that all discussion documents are turned round within three days or so. A more usual timescale is 10 to 12 weeks but, as a contrast, a draft document, required to show a bank that action was underway, took about 5 weeks and was then finalised in the following 3 to 4 weeks.

A typical timescale, for a fast plan, would be:

- Week 1 - Interviews;

- Week 2 - Prepare SWOT Analysis, PEST analysis and any other key analyses eg for IIP;

- Week 3 - complete Current Position;

- interview for key objectives;

- management team discuss analyses;

- Week 4 - issue objectives analysis;

- revise and re-issue current position analyses;

- Week 5 - management team discuss objectives analysis and revised current position;

- draft strategic options analysis;

- prepare financial model;

- Week 6 - issue strategic options analysis;

- prepare draft action plans;

- Week 7 - management team discuss strategic options;

- Week 8 - revise, issue and discuss action plans;

- prepare supporting financial projections;

- Week 9 - issue consolidated documents.

Roles and Responsibilities

During the project the person undertaking the investigation / preparation, who may be an outside consultant, and the staff, of the organisation, will adopt certain distinct roles and responsibilities. Normally these will include:



It is important that the final strategic business plan belongs to management and is regularly updated and reviewed in the future


Strongly linked to the idea of ownership it is important that the bulk of the Strategic Business Plan is felt to reflect the views of the board, and their staff, as this is the best chance that it has of being adopted


Once defined, the Strategic Business Plan should be implemented and regularly reviewed, and revised if needed


Regular reviews of the Strategic Business Plan should be undertaken by management, and any change in circumstances should be analysed and a new course of action agreed


Reviews should be carried out, at least annually, to ensure that the plan is still on track


Advisor/ Interpreter

Ensuring that the proper issues are addressed and considered to resolve problems and to ensure that the requirements, for an achievable practical plan, are met


Listening and finding out what really happens


Of virtually all the document, with the possible exception of financial projections


Causing action to take place

Team Member

We're all in this together

What effort is involved?

Preparing strategic business plans for small to medium companies commonly take around 15 days of effort from the investigator, possibly 20, assuming financial projections are prepared by the company's staff. Subsequently, some companies like an outside expert to monitor progress, with effort of one day per quarter being typical.

The staff involvement is composed of the following elements:

- around 1½ hours per person interviewed plus ½ to 1 hour for any follow-up interview required, which might be needed in, say, 1 in 4 cases;

- around 1 hour per member of key staff for the discussion on objectives;

- management team - as above plus consideration of discussion documents - say 2 days per person - plus discussion of action plans, forecasts et cetera - say another 2 days, plus reviews every three months of ¼ to ½ day each.

Exceptions to the above rules apply when there are 'concealed agendas', such as where the managing director is planning his succession and wishes some 'kite-flying' to take place. In such circumstances, or where the company has awkward problems, additional discussions, albeit with a small group of people, may be needed.