Christoph Lohr: Strategy for engineering firms

Strategic planning is important for businesses and individuals..

Christoph Lohr

“Because knowledge rapidly deteriorates unless it is used constantly, maintaining within an organization an activity that is used only intermittently guarantees incompetence,” said Peter Drucker.

In my column from September, we defined strategy as a set of cohesive actions or plans that an organization does. If plans or actions are not cohesive, then the strategy is disjointed and can lead to frustration, especially among star performers. We also spoke about competitive advantage in the form of differentiator or low-cost. Let’s introduce another resource: “The Marketing Handbook for the Design and Construction Professional (Third Edition).”

Specifically, let’s look at chapter 2.3 “Focus and Expertise: Establishing Clear Direction for the Firm is Key to Success.” More or less, it’s an entire chapter dedicated to a firm establishing its overall strategy. In the above chapte,r the author, Jack Reigle, discusses the SPARKS Framework. SPARKS is one way to define your firm, although I believe there are many other ways or choices. That being said, what is helpful about SPARKS is the mindset it creates in making intentional choices, such as saying “yes” or “no” to opportunities or directions. Mr. Reigle mentions in this chapter the results of not having a clear strategy: “Competing on price; unreasonable client expectations in schedule and budget; not making the profit we deserve; not getting and keeping talented people; and lack of leadership and leadership transition.”  All of these are signs of incompetence — as the dictionary defines: “the inability to do something successfully” — as Peter Drucker indicated more than 50 years ago, by not being focused an organization will be incompetent.  

In that light, Mr. Reigle presents 6 MEP firm “character” types along a spectrum: Einstein, niche expert, market partner, community leader, orchestrator or builder. The chapter goes into details about how each one of these character types answering the following three strands of questions in regards to their strategic system: 

  • Getting work: What is the firm known for? (Sales message promotional strategy, geographic reach, best fees, etc.);  
  • Doing work: What are the firm’s targets? (Deep expertise, staff mix, project management, learning, etc.); and  
  • Organizing work: How does the firm organize for business? (Ownership, investments, offices, information systems, etc.)

While the specific character types offer an interesting perspective, let’s focus on the overall point the chapter makes: It is important that these strands are answered cohesively. For example, Company ABC traditionally has done very complex, intricate project types, and wants to add high volume, repeat-type work to help stabilize its revenue. The marketing group feels very confident in its abilities on how it will get the work. But even if this is the case, the company may ask itself some of the following questions (with answers afterwards in parenthesis).

Doing the work:

  • Does our existing staff have the ability and desire to do the work? (Yes to ability, as projects are less challenging, and no to desire, as most staff are not engaged by the high volume work type).  
  • Do our existing PMs have the personality and experience to do the work? (No and no, existing PMs feel better about low-volume projects rather than managing a whole program); and  
  • Can we learn how to do this work through our usual means? (No — normally, the firm selects and pays for technical stars to go to various conferences to learn, high volume work would require establishing an internal training program, further exasperating resources).

Organizing the work:

  • Do our current internal investments align with the new project work? (No, currently we invest in star technical staff, would need to invest more in PMs);  
  • Are we recruiting the right staff?  Do we offer the right benefits? (Most likely, not. We have been focused on hiring experienced staff with good reputation, but may need to invest more into college recruiting); and  
  • Is cross team collaboration able to handle many moving projects? (No, company has traditionally struggled to share resources across projects). 

Clearly, in this case, Company ABC should not pursue this work type, even if it has the ability to win it. But what if only one of the above questions were answered negatively? In that case, that question needs further evaluation. For example, what if most of the 9/10 staff would be open to high volume work, but 1/10 staff did not? Whether the 10% of the staff encompassed star performers or not has a big impact on the decision to move forward. Just because an organization has the ability to win the work, doesn’t mean they have the means of doing it; just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

This kind of rigorous decision-making often seems absent at a number of firms. The strategic planning process, if it happens, is often dominated by discussions of revenue, new markets (whether based on geography or building type), or what companies to acquire. But revenue is just a metric. New markets can be a good or bad fit for the existing organization. And about 90% of mergers and acquisitions fail. Engineers are most likely much better at thinking about details rather than systems in their entirety, but it is a skill that must be learned. The companies that do will reap the greatest rewards.

However, this kind of evaluation is not just for company leaders and managers, every individual should do this. Are you incredibly stressed at work and have a hard time pinpointing why? Perhaps it is an alignment problem, and your motivators and career ambitions don’t align with the direction (or lack thereof) of the organization you belong to. It may be a great time to speak up and show off your strategic thinking skills with your boss. Or, it may be time to get out, and start the process of finding the place that better aligns with your ambitions, vision and motivators.  

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Christoph Lohr, P.E., CPD, ASSE 12080, is the is vice president of technical services and research. All views and opinions expressed in this article are his alone. Have some thoughts on this article? Contact Christoph at [email protected] .


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Our world is more connected now than at any time in history. To forge a better future, it is clear that we must create conditions that bring all minds to the table, irrespective of family income, race, gender, national origin, and discipline.

Cornell Engineering is uniquely positioned to un-silo engineering and unlock innovation. The Cornell Engineering 2030 plan builds upon our 150-year-old reputation for rigor and excellence in teaching and discovery, and our deeply ingrained culture of collaborating across disciplines, to forge new paradigms for engineering education, research, and technology translation.

This is our time.

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Guides / Writing engineering strategy

I kind of think writing about engineering strategy is hard because good strategy is pretty boring, and it's kind of boring to write about. Also I think when people hear "strategy" they think "innovation" - Camille Fournier

Few companies understand their engineering strategy and vision. One consequence of this uncertainty is the industry belief that these documents are difficult to write. In some conversations, it can feel like you're talking about something mystical, but these are just mundane documents. The reality is that good engineering strategy is boring and that it's easier to write an effective strategy than a bad one.

To write an engineering strategy, write five design documents, and pull the similarities out. That's your engineering strategy. To write an engineering vision, write five engineering strategies, and forecast their implications two years into the future. That's your engineering vision.

If you can't resist the urge to include your most brilliant ideas in the process, then you can include them in your prework. Write all of your best ideas in a giant document, delete it, and never mention any of them again. Now that those ideas are out of your head, your head is cleared for the work ahead.

Durably useful engineering strategy and vision are the output of iterative, bottom-up organizational learning. As such, all learning contributes to your organization's strategy and vision, but your contribution doesn't have to be so abstract. Even if you're not directly responsible for that work, there are practical steps that you can take to advance your organization's strategy and vision, starting right now .

When and why

Before diving into the recipe for creating effective strategies and visions, a good starting question is, "When and why should I actually create them?" Strategies are tools of proactive alignment that empower teams to move quickly and with confidence. Strategies allow everyone--not just the empowered few--to make quick, confident decisions that might have otherwise cost them a week of discussion. Strategies are also the bricks that narrow your many possible futures down enough that it's possible to write a realistic vision. If you realize that you've rehashed the same discussion three or four times, it's time to write a strategy. When the future's too hazy to identify investments worth making, it's time to write another vision. If neither of those sound like familiar problems -- move on to other work for now and return later.

Write five design docs

Design documents describe the decisions and tradeoffs you've made in specific projects. Your company might call them RFCs or tech specs. Stranger names happen, too; Uber bewilderingly called them DUCKS until they later standardized on RFC . A good design document describes a specific problem, surveys possible solutions, and explains the selected approach's details. There are many formats to pick from; a few places to start your thinking are Design Docs, Markdown, and Git , Design Docs at Google , and Technical Decision-Making and Alignment in a Remote Culture .

Whether a given project requires a design document comes down to personal judgment, but I've found a few rules useful. You should write design documents for any project whose capabilities will be used by numerous future projects. You should also write design documents for projects that meaningfully impact your users. You should write a design document for any work taking more than a month of engineering time.

A batch of five design docs is the ideal ingredient for writing an effective strategy because design documents have what bad strategies lack: detailed specifics grounded in reality. It's easy for two well-meaning engineers on the same team to interpret an abstract strategy in different ways, but it's much harder to stay misaligned when you're implementing a specific solution.

A few recommendations as you write:

  • Start from the problem. The clearer the problem statement, the more obvious the solutions. If solutions aren't obvious, spend more time clarifying the problem. If you're stuck articulating the problem, show what you have to five people and ask them what's missing: fresh eyes always see the truth.
  • Keep the template simple. Most companies have a design document template, which is a great pattern to follow. However, those templates are often expanded to serve too many goals. Overloaded templates discourage folks from writing design documents in the first place. Prefer minimal design document templates that allow authors to select the most useful sections and only insist on exhaustive details for the riskiest projects.
  • Gather and review together, write alone. It's very unlikely that you personally have all the relevant context to write the best design document on a given topic. Before getting far into the process, collect input from folks with relevant perspectives, particularly those who will rely on the output of your design document. However, be skeptical of carrying that collaborative process into writing the design document itself. Most folks are better writers than they are editors. This means it's usually harder to edit a group document into clear writing than to identify one author to write a clear document. Gather perspectives widely but write alone. Just be careful not to fall in love with what you've written until after you've reviewed it with others.
  • Prefer good over perfect. It's better to write a good document and get it in front of others than it is to delay for something marginally better. This is particularly valuable to keep in mind when giving feedback on other folks' designs; it's easy to fall into the trap of expecting their designs to be just as good as your best design. Particularly as you become more senior, it's toxic to push every design to meet the bar of your own best work. Focus on pushing designs to be good, rather than fixating on your own best as the relevant quality bar.

It takes a lot of practice to write great design documents. If you want to improve yours, my best advice is to reread your designs after you've finished implementing them and study the places where your implementation deviated from your plan--what caused those deviations? Oh, and of course, just keep writing more of them.

Synthesize those five design docs into a strategy

After your organization has written five design documents, sit down and read them all together. Look for controversial decisions that came up in multiple designs, particularly those that were hard to agree on. A recent example of mine was getting stuck debating whether Redis was appropriate as durable storage or only as a cache. Rather than starting from zero in each design document review, wouldn't it be easier if we reviewed our recent decisions about using Redis, reflected on how we made those decisions and wrote them down as a strategy?

Good strategies guide tradeoffs and explain the rationale behind that guidance. Bad strategies state a policy without explanation, which decouples them from the context they were made. Without context, your strategy rapidly becomes incomprehensible--why did they decide this?--and difficult to adapt as the underlying context shifts. A few interesting strategies to read while thinking about writing your own are A Framework for Responsible Innovation and How Big Technical Changes Happen at Slack .

If you're a Good Strategy, Bad Strategy convert--and that book has wholly transformed how I think about strategy--then you'll note this definition of strategy is the "diagnosis" and "guiding policies" sections, deferring "coherent action" to the design documents.

My best advice for writing a strategy document is:

  • Start where you are. Working on strategy, it's easy to be paralyzed by the inherently vast ambiguity we work in, but you've just got to dive in and start writing. Waiting for missing information doesn't work: every missing document is missing for a good reason. Whatever you write will need to change, and if you write something particularly bad, you'll quickly realize the need to change it. Where you are now is always the best place to start.
  • Write the specifics. Write until you start to generalize, and then stop writing. If you can't be specific, wait until you've written more design documents. Specific statements create alignment; generic statements create the illusion of alignment.
  • Be opinionated. Good strategies are opinionated. If they aren't opinionated, then they won't provide any clarity on decision making. However, being opinionated on its own isn't enough. You also need to show your work.
  • Show your work. In math classes growing up, you had to show your work to get full credit. Here too, you must show the rationale behind your opinions. Showing your work builds confidence in the first version of a document, but even more importantly, by showing your work, you make it possible for others to modify and extend your work as the underlying context shifts.

Some of the best strategies you write may at the time feel too obvious to bother writing. "When should we write design documents?" is a strategy worth writing. "Which databases do we use for which use cases?" is a strategy worth writing. "How should we stage our migration from monolith to services?" is worth writing, too. As we leave behind the idea of strategy as demonstrations of brilliance, we can start to write far more of them, and we can write them more casually. If it ends up not being used, you can always deprecate it later.

Extrapolate five strategies into a vision

As you collect more strategies, it'll become increasingly challenging to reason about how the various strategies interact. Maybe one of your strategies is to Run less software and rely more on cloud solutions, but another one of your strategies is to prefer offloading complexity to the database whenever possible. How do you reconcile those strategies if you identify a database that would allow you to offload a great deal of complexity, but that isn't offered by your cloud vendor?

Take five of your recent strategies, extrapolate how their tradeoffs will play out over the next two to three years. As you edit through the contradictions and weave the threads together, you've written an engineering vision. The final version will give you what Tanya Reilly calls a robust belief in the future , which makes it easier to understand how your existing strategies relate to each other and simplifies writing new strategies that stand the test of time.

For a useful vision, a few things to focus on are:

  • Write two to three years out. Companies, organizations, and technology all change quickly enough that thinking too far into the future is fraught. It also doesn't work if you write a vision that expires in six months--how many strategies would you realistically write within that six-month window? Try to focus on two to three years out; you can expand that horizon a bit if you're a fairly established company.
  • Ground in your business and your users. Effective visions ground themselves in serving your users and your business. That tight connection keeps the vision aligned with your leadership team's core values--users and business. Bad visions treat technical sophistication as a self-justifying raison d'être--a view that is never shared by your company's leadership.
  • Be optimistic rather than audacious. Visions should be ambitious, but they shouldn't be audacious. They should be possible, but the best possible version if possible. Do write what you could accomplish if every project is finished on time and without major setbacks. Don't write what you think would be possible with infinite resources.
  • Stay concrete and specific. Visions get more useful as they get more specific. Generic statements are easy to agree with but don't help reconcile conflicting strategies. Be a bit more detailed than you're comfortable with. Details in visions are often illustrative rather than declarative, giving a taste of the future's flavor rather than offering a binding commitment.
  • Keep it one to two pages long. The reality is that most people don't read long documents. If you write something five or six pages long, readers will start dropping off without finishing it (or will skim it very rapidly without engaging with the details). Force yourself to write something compact, and reference extra context by linking to other documents for the subset of folks who want the full details.

After you finish writing your vision, the first step folks usually take is sharing it widely across the engineering organization. There is so much work behind the vision--five design docs for each strategy, five strategies for one vision--it's hard not to get excited when you're done. So excited that it's easy to get discouraged, then, when the response to your strategy will almost always be muted. There are a few reasons for the muted response. First, the core audience for your vision is folks writing strategies, which is a relatively small cohort. Second, a great vision is usually so obvious that it bores more than it excites.

Don't measure vision by the initial excitement it creates. Instead, measure it by reading a design document from two years ago and then one from last week; if there's marked improvement, then your vision is good.

Read another guide? or Back to the stories?

If you've enjoyed reading the stories and guides on , you might also enjoy Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the management track , which features many of these guides and stories.

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Princeton University

Princeton engineering, strategic planning.

In September 2020-2021, Dean Andrea Goldsmith led strategic planning to drive the school’s growth over the next decade and to maximize its positive impact for humanity. This page summarizes the principal goals and objectives of the plan as well as initial progress.

The importance of engineering and technology to address the most challenging problems facing humanity has never been more apparent. The global pandemic, accelerating climate change, entrenched racism and other structural inequalities in society – these are just a few examples of pressing issues that have substantial technological components as well as a web of interactions across politics, economics, culture and society.

This moment for society also is a critical inflection point for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. In order to solve the most challenging problems facing humanity, we must seize the opportunity of this inflection point to significantly increase the impact of the school by:

new knowledge and technologies that benefit humanity

through education and mentoring tomorrow’s engineers, technologists, and leaders within a diverse and inclusive environment


Princeton, New Jersey, the country, and the world through our research, education, service, and innovation

The school has exceptional strength in the disciplines of its six departments as well as highly effective interdisciplinary research and teaching in its four centers and institutes.

167 Postdocs: 24% of Princeton postdocs

833 Graduate students: 27% of Princeton graduate students

1588 Undergraduates: 30% of Princeton undergraduates

8700 Undergraduate course enrollments

72% of AB students take a course in SEAS

$86.2M Sponsored research awards in FY22: 30.1% of Princeton total

Strategy to Achieve Success

The “secret sauce” of Princeton Engineering is that the school is an integral part of one of the world’s greatest liberal arts universities, with a highly collaborative environment that leverages world-class expertise across many areas to address complex societal problems. Building on this strength we will:

the number of faculty and graduate students strategically to ensure Princeton leadership in transformative areas of engineering and technology

stronger ties across and outside engineering to leverage Princeton’s strengths and collaborative culture

a new neighborhood and buildings for the school to catalyze collaborations and support state-of-the-art research

innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry partnerships to enhance our research and teaching and magnify its impact

diversity, inclusion, and equity within SEAS to attract the very best faculty and students and to maximize their success.

Research Priorities

Our priorities for growth will focus on “human-centered” engineering that maximizes the benefit of our new knowledge and technologies for people, societies, the country, and the world. This will include interdisciplinary initiatives cutting across engineering, as well as science and the humanities. Our focus will be on high-impact research areas where Princeton can lead, including


Quantum and semiconductor technology, resilient cities, artificial intelligence and machine learning for engineering, other emerging opportunities.

At the same time, we will support and leverage our current interdisciplinary centers and institutes:

Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Research to mitigate climate change and transform the energy sector

Princeton Institute of Materials

Materials and devices as the fabric of future technologies

Center for Information Technology Policy

Research and impact at the intersection of technology, policy, and society

Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education

Programs and platforms for human-centered design and a cutting-edge innovation hub for human-centered technology

We also will ensure our six departments have the size and culture to maximize impact in their disciplines and to contribute to interdisciplinary research areas.

Growth of Faculty and Graduate Students

Our strategic plan requires significant growth of the faculty and graduate students in order to have the disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise to maximize the impact of SEAS. This includes the following growth plan:

Increase the size of the faculty by 30 in five years – net growth after retirements and new hires

Increase number of graduate students by 125 over five years

Since SEAS is planning significant growth, we also have the opportunity to significantly diversify our faculty and student population. Our detailed plan to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity has already borne fruit in our faculty and graduate student hiring as well as in improving the climate of the school to embrace our goals in this area.

Infrastructure Priorities: New Engineering Neighborhood

The new neighborhood for engineering will be transformative, not only providing our faculty with state-of-the-art facilities , but also in creating spaces and catalysts for collaboration across SEAS and across Princeton. The infrastructure priorities include:

Creating the new SEAS neighborhood with all departments built or under construction in 10 years

Completing the buildings for bioengineering and for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2025

Completing Schmidt Hall for the Department of Computer Science and related centers in 2027

Repurposing the E-Quad for innovation, initiative, and project space

Education Priorities

In order to educate and inspire tomorrow’s engineers, technologists, and leaders, we plan the following initiatives:

Cross-cutting Initiatives

  • Design and entrepreneurship (fall 2021 launch)
  • Diversity, inclusion, and equity: (fall 2021 launch)
  • Winter session courses and experiences: (January 2022 launch)

Postdoc Initiatives

  • Fellowships for interdisciplinary areas, to foster collaborations, and to spur tech transfer (Bioengineering launched)

Graduate Initiatives

  • MS programs: Grow 1-year M.Eng. program beyond Princeton students: Applications now open to all
  • New graduate degree programs/certificates in data science, robotics, bioengineering, quantum engineering, material science

Undergraduate Initiatives

  • New undergraduate degree programs/certificates in robotics, bioengineering, material science, engineering and the arts
  • Strengthen first-year engineering courses in math and physics that teach through engineering examples. Diverse and First-Gen students have a much higher retention rate in the engineering major when they take these courses.
  • More engineering-based freshman seminars to inspire a broad cross-section of Princeton freshmen to study engineering.
  • Expand summer REUs (some joint with industry)

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Priorities

In order for Princeton to serve as a catalyst for a diverse and inclusive high-tech hub throughout the tri-state region, we plan the following initiatives:

Human-centered design initiative

  • Differentiates design at Princeton
  • Consistent with Princeton’s informal motto of service to humanity
  • Sparks entrepreneurship and innovation

A cutting-edge innovation hub within SEAS

  • Spearheads innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging research areas
  • Catalyst for a new culture of innovation, out-of-box thinking, and transfer to practice
  • Fosters connections between entrepreneurs and startup enablers

Foster strong ties with industry through affiliates programs

Build alliances with accelerators, venture capitalists, and startup enablers, diversity, inclusion, and equity priorities.

Our school and the engineering profession cannot thrive in solving the greatest challenges facing humanity without embracing the diverse ideas and experiences of people with different backgrounds. To reach our full potential collectively, all talented contributors must be welcomed to a supportive community that allows each to reach their full potential. Our plan to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity in the school include the following initiatives:

Increase Faculty Diversity

  • Implement best practices to hiring, recruitment, and retention with strong Dean engagement
  • Ensure maximum success trajectory for all faculty, e.g. through equitable access to resources and mentorship
  • Increase pipeline, e.g. through SEAS Pathways into the Academy

Increase Graduate Student Diversity

  • Implement best practices in admissions and recruitment
  • Ensure maximum success trajectory for all graduate students, e.g. through community-building, equitable access to resources, and support
  • Grow MS programs in engineering to diversify our graduate population and provide pathways to Ph.D. programs

Increase Undergraduate Student Diversity

  • Support and grow first-year engineering courses that attract and retain exceptional students from diverse backgrounds
  • Launch summer REUs to diversify the pipeline to graduate school

Strengthen SEAS Culture

  • Ensure a diverse, inclusive, and equitable culture that maximizes success of all SEAS constituents

As we implement this plan, some measures of our success include:

Impact and growth of SEAS Research:

  • Sponsored research
  • Industrial research and partnerships
  • Large projects and centers (pillars of research excellence)

Recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and graduate students

External faculty awards and honors, diversity and inclusion metrics, patent licensing and startup spinouts, perception of peers and industry, rankings, a vision for seas in 2030.

A decade that opened with an onslaught of challenges for humanity and the planet must close with renewed health, security, equity, and opportunity for all. Princeton Engineering will be a driver of that progress. The innovation, technology, and leaders that flourish here will uplift and enable. We will target our growth for the school to better fulfill Princeton’s informal motto of service to humanity in the broadest sense.

To enable this vision, by 2030, we will launch and grow four new initiatives/institutes in Bioengineering, Robotics, Data Science, and Quantum Engineering. Our departments and centers will be known worldwide for their far-reaching contributions. Our new neighborhood will inspire collaboration and support faculty and students in achieving their best work. Our Innovation Hub will be a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship across the tri-state region, and a change-maker globally. We will have grown by 30-40% to 200 faculty, 200 postdocs, and 1000 graduate students. Our faculty will work with $1.5 billion in annual sponsored research awards. The diversity of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates will grow by 30-40%. Students will prize the mentorship and support that enable them to push the boundaries of their fields and achieve their highest visions. Our growing body of alumni will thrive and continue to lead positive change around the world.

Progress Highlights

Research initiatives

  • Exceptionally strong growth and hiring in robotics
  • Launched NextG wireless initiative and hosted kick-off conference
  • Launched Center for Decentralization of Power through Blockchain Technology and hosted two conferences
  • Launched the Princeton Bioengineering Initiative
  • Net growth of faculty by 18 (12%) from fall 2020 to fall 2022
  • Number of graduate students up by 170 (25%) from 2020 to 2023
  • Number of undergraduates up by 100 (7%) from 2020 to 2023
  • Annual sponsored research spending up $13.8 (19%) million from 2020 to 2022
  • Construction under way for new neighborhood

Education and engagement

  • New Ph.D. programs in bioengineering and quantum engineering
  • Expanded 1-year master’s program
  • Launched Keller Center design initiative
  • Initiating corporate affiliates programs
  • Partnered with State of New Jersey to bring HAX accelerator to New Jersey

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Of 29 faculty hires since 2020, roughly 48% were women and 14% were faculty from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Pathways into the Academy and Pathways to Graduate School programs help wide range of students and recent Ph.D. recipients advance through professional development
  • Outreach efforts, expansion of graduate student slots, and revised MEng program, resulted in 20% growth of the total graduate population, including significant rise in diversity—a 30% increase in women graduate students (bringing to 32% the fraction of women graduate students) and a 45% increase in domestic graduate students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds (currently, 8% of all graduate students are U.S. students from underrepresented racial/ethnics backgrounds, while another 53% are international students).
  • Numerous programs were launched to support wellbeing and professional development of graduate students and postdocs, including 40 to 50 individual workshops and meetings each year.
  • Started the Diversity Champions for faculty and staff
  • Keller Center launched Program in Historical and Institutional Racism

The Complete Guide to Writing a Strategic Plan

By Joe Weller | April 12, 2019 (updated July 17, 2021)

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Writing a strategic plan can be daunting, as the process includes many steps. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of writing a strategic plan, what to include, common challenges, and more.

Included on this page, you'll find details on what to include in a strategic plan , the importance of an executive summary , how to write a mission statement , how to write a vision statement , and more.

The Basics of Writing a Strategic Plan

The strategic planning process takes time, but the payoff is huge. If done correctly, your strategic plan will engage and align stakeholders around your company’s priorities.

Strategic planning, also called strategy development or analysis and assessment , requires attention to detail and should be performed by someone who can follow through on next steps and regular updates. Strategic plans are not static documents — they change as new circumstances arise, both internally and externally.

Before beginning the strategic planning process, it’s important to make sure you have buy-in from management, a board of directors, or other leaders. Without it, the process cannot succeed.

Next, gather your planning team. The group should include people from various departments at different levels, and the planning process should be an open, free discussion within the group. It’s important for leaders to get input from the group as a whole, but they don’t necessarily need approval from everyone — that will slow down the process.

The plan author is responsible for writing and putting the final plan together and should work with a smaller group of writers to establish and standardize the tone and style of the final document or presentation.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hire an external party to help facilitate the strategic planning process.

John Bryson

“It often can be helpful to have a really good facilitator to organize and pursue strategic conversations,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement .

Byson says the facilitator can be in-house or external, but they need experience. “You need to make sure someone is good, so there needs to be a vetting process,” he says.

One way to gauge a facilitator’s experience is by asking how they conduct conversations. “It’s important for facilitators to lead by asking questions,” Bryson says.

Bryson says that strong facilitators often ask the following questions:

What is the situation we find ourselves in?

What do we do?

How do we do it?

How do we link our purposes to our capabilities?

The facilitators also need to be able to handle conflict and diffuse situations by separating idea generation from judgement. “Conflict is part of strategic planning,” Bryson admits. “[Facilitators] need to hold the conversations open long enough to get enough ideas out there to be able to make wise choices.”

These outside helpers are sometimes more effective than internal facilitators since they are not emotionally invested in the outcome of the process. Thus, they can concentrate on the process and ask difficult questions.

A strategic plan is a dynamic document or presentation that details your company’s present situation, outlines your future plans, and shows you how the company can get there. You can take many approaches to the process and consider differing ideas about what needs to go into it, but some general concepts stand.

“Strategic planning is a prompt or a facilitator for fostering strategic thinking, acting, and learning,” says Bryson. He explains that he often begins planning projects with three questions:

What do you want to do?

How are we going to do it?

What would happen if you did what you want to do?

The answers to these questions make up the meat of the planning document.

A strategic plan is only effective when the writing and thinking is clear, since the intent is to help an organization keep to its mission through programs and capacity, while also building stakeholder engagement.

Question 1: Where Are We Now?

The answer (or answers) to the first question — where are we now? — addresses the foundation of your organization, and it can serve as an outline for the following sections of your strategic plan:

Mission statement

Core values and guiding principles

Identification of competing organizations

Industry analysis (this can include a SWOT or PEST analysis)

Question 2: Where Are We Going?

The answers to this question help you identify your goals for the future of the business and assess whether your current trajectory is the future you want. These aspects of the plan outline a strategy for achieving success and can include the following:

Vision statement about what the company will look like in the future

What is happening (both internally and externally) and what needs to change

The factors necessary for success

Question 3: How Do We Get There?

The answers to this question help you outline the many routes you can take to achieve your vision and match your strengths with opportunities in the market. A Gantt chart can help you map out and keep track of these initiatives.

You should include the following sections:

Specific and measurable goals

An execution plan that identifies who manages and monitors the plan

An evaluation plan that shows how you plan to measure the successes and setbacks that come with implementation

What to Include in a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning terminology is not standardized throughout the industry, and this can lead to confusion. Instead, strategic planning experts use many names for the different sections of a strategic plan.

Denise McNerney

“The terms are all over the map. It’s really the concept of what the intention of the terms are [that is important],” says Denise McNerney, President and CEO of iBossWell, Inc. , and incoming president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). She recommends coming up with a kind of glossary that defines the terms for your team. “One of the most important elements when you’re starting the strategic planning process is to get some clarity on the nomenclature. It’s just what works for your organization. Every organization is slightly different.”

No matter what terms you use, the general idea of a strategic plan is the same. “It’s like drawing a map for your company. One of the first steps is committing to a process, then determining how you’re going to do it,” McNerney explains.

She uses a basic diagram that she calls the strategic plan architecture . The areas above the red dotted line are the strategic parts of the plan. Below the red dotted line are the implementation pieces.

Strategic Plan Architecture

While the specific terminology varies, basic sections of a strategic plan include the following in roughly this order:

Executive summary

Elevator pitch or company description

Vision statement

Industry analysis

Marketing plan

Operations plan

Financial projections

Evaluation methods

Signature page

Some plans will contain all the above sections, but others will not — what you include depends on your organization’s structure and culture.

“I want to keep it simple, so organizations can be successful in achieving [the strategic plan],” McNerney explains. “Your plan has to be aligned with your culture and your culture needs to be aligned with your plan if you’re going to be successful in implementing it.”

The following checklist will help you keep track of what you have done and what you still need to do.

Writing A Strategic Plan Section

‌ Download Strategic Plan Sections Checklist

How to Write a Strategic Plan

Once you’ve assembled your team and defined your terms, it’s time to formalize your ideas by writing the strategic plan. The plan may be in the form of a document, a presentation, or another format.

You can use many models and formats to create your strategic plan (read more about them in this article ). However, you will likely need to include some basic sections, regardless of the particular method you choose (even if the order and way you present them vary). In many cases, the sections of a strategic plan build on each other, so you may have to write them in order.

One tip: Try to avoid jargon and generic terms; for example, words like maximize and succeed lose their punch. Additionally, remember that there are many terms for the same object in strategic planning.

The following sections walk you through how to write common sections of a strategic plan.

How to Write an Executive Summary

The key to writing a strong executive summary is being clear and concise. Don’t feel pressured to put anything and everything into this section — executive summaries should only be about one to two pages long and include the main points of the strategic plan.

The idea is to pique the reader’s interest and get them to read the rest of the plan. Because it functions as a review of the entire document, write the executive summary after you complete the rest of your strategic plan.

Jim Stockmal

“If you have a plan that’s really lengthy, you should have a summary,” says Jim Stockmal, President of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He always writes summaries last, after he has all the data and information he needs for the plan. He says it is easier to cut than to create something.

For more information about writing an effective executive summary, a checklist, and free templates, read this article .

If you want a one-page executive summary, this template can help you decide what information to include.

One-page Executive Summary Template

Download One-Page Executive Summary Template

Excel | Word | PDF

How to Write a Company Description

Also called an elevator pitch , the company description is a brief outline of your organization and what it does. It should be short enough that it can be read or heard during the average elevator ride.

The company description should include the history of your company, the major products and services you provide, and any highlights and accomplishments, and it should accomplish the following:

Define what you are as a company.

Describe what the company does.

Identify your ideal client and customer.

Highlight what makes your company unique.

While this may seem basic, the company description changes as your company grows and changes. For example, your ideal customer five years ago might not be the same as the current standard or the one you want in five years.

Share the company description with everyone in your organization. If employees cannot accurately articulate what you do to others, you might miss out on opportunities.

How to Write a Mission Statement

The mission statement explains what your business is trying to achieve. In addition to guiding your entire company, it also helps your employees make decisions that move them toward the company’s overall mission and goals.

“Ideally, [the mission statement is] something that describes what you’re about at the highest level,” McNerney says. “It’s the reason you exist or what you do.”

Strong mission statements can help differentiate your company from your competitors and keep you on track toward your goals. It can also function as a type of tagline for your organization.

Mission statements should do the following:

Define your company’s purpose. Say what you do, who you do it for, and why it is valuable.

Use specific and easy-to-understand language.

Be inspirational while remaining realistic.

Be short and succinct.

This is your chance to define the way your company will make decisions based on goals, culture, and ethics. Mission statements should not be vague or generic, and they should set your business apart from others. If your mission statement could define many companies in your line of work, it is not a good mission statement.

Mission statements don’t have to be only outward-facing for customers or partners. In fact, it is also possible to include what your company does for its employees in your mission statement.

Unlike other parts of your strategic plan that are designed to be reviewed and edited periodically, your company’s mission statement should live as is for a while.

That said, make the effort to edit and refine your mission statement. Take out jargon like world class, best possible, state of the art, maximize, succeed , and so on, and cut vague or unspecific phrasing. Then let your strategic planning committee review it.

How to Write a Vision Statement

Every action your company does contributes to its vision. The vision statement explains what your company wants to achieve in the long term and can help inspire and align your team.

“The vision is the highest-ordered statement of the desired future or state of what you want your business to achieve,” McNerney explains.

A clear vision statement can help all stakeholders understand the meaning and purpose of your company. It should encourage and inspire employees while setting your company’s direction. It also helps you rule out elements that might not align with your vision.

Vision statements should be short (a few sentences). They should also be memorable, specific, and ambitious. But there is a fine line between being ambitious and creating a fantasy. The vision should be clearly attainable if you follow the goals and objectives you outline later in your strategic planning plan.

Because you need to know your company’s goals and objectives to create an accurate vision statement, you might need to wait until you have more information about the company’s direction to write your vision statement.

Below are questions to ask your team as you craft your vision statement:

What impact do we want to have on our community and industry?

How will we interact with others as a company?

What is the culture of the business?

Avoid broad statements that could apply to any company or industry. For example, phrases like “delivering a wonderful experience” could apply to many industries. Write in the present tense, avoid jargon, and be clear and concise.

Vision statements should accomplish the following:

Be inspiring.

Focus on success.

Look at and project about five to 10 years ahead.

Stay in line with the goals and values of your organization.

Once you write your vision statement, communicate it to everyone in your company. Your team should be able to easily understand and repeat the company’s vision statement. Remember, the statements can change as the environment in and around your company changes.

The Difference Between Mission and Vision Statements

Mission and vision statements are both important, but they serve very different purposes.

Mission statements show why a business exists, while vision statements are meant to inspire and provide direction. Mission statements are about the present, and vision statements are about the future. The mission provides items to act upon, and the vision offers goals to aspire to.

For example, if a vision statement is “No child goes to bed hungry,” the accompanying mission would be to provide food banks within the city limits.

While many organizations have both mission and vision statements, it’s not imperative. “Not everyone has a vision statement,” McNerney says. “Some organizations just have one.”

If you choose to have only one statement, McNerney offers some advice: “Any statement you have, if you have just one, needs to include what [you do], how [you do it], why [you do it], and who you do it for.”

During the planning process, these key statements might change. “Early on in the process, you need to talk about what you are doing and why and how you are doing it. Sometimes you think you know where you want to go, but you’re not really sure,” McNerney says. “You need to have flexibility both on the plan content and in the process.”

How to Write Your Company’s Core Values

Company core values , sometimes called organizational values , help you understand what drives the company to do what it does. In this section, you’ll learn a lot about your company and the people who work with you. It should be relatively easy to write.

“The values are the core of how you operate [and] how you treat your people, both internally and externally. Values describe the behaviors you really want to advance,” McNerney says.

There are both internal and external values looking at your employees and coworkers, as well as customers and outside stakeholders. Pinpointing values will help you figure out the traits of the people you want to hire and promote, as well as the qualities you’re looking for in your customers.

Your values should align with your vision statement and highlight your strengths while mitigating weaknesses. McNerney says many organizations do not really consider or are not honest about their company’s values when working on strategic plans, which can lead to failure.

“Your strategies have to align with your values and vice versa,” she explains.

Many companies’ values sound like meaningless jargon, so take the time to figure out what matters to your company and push beyond generic language.

How to Write about Your Industry

When planning ahead for your business, it’s important to look around. How are matters inside your company? What are your competitors doing? Who are your target customers?

“[If you don’t do a thorough industry analysis], you’re doing your planning with your head in the sand. If you’re not looking at the world around you, you’re missing a whole dimension about what should inform your decision making,” McNerney advises.

Writing about your industry helps you identify new opportunities for growth and shows you how you need to change in order to take advantage of those opportunities. Identify your key competitors, and define what you see as their strengths and weaknesses. Performing this analysis will help you figure out what you do best and how you compare to your competition. Once you know what you do well, you can exploit your strengths to your advantage.

In this section, also include your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You can choose from many templates to help you write this section.

Next, identify your target customers. Think about what they want and need, as well as how you can provide it. Do your competitors attract your target customers, or do you have a niche that sets you apart?

The industry analysis carries a price, but also provides many benefits. “It takes some time and money to do [a thorough industry analysis], but the lack of that understanding says a lot about the future of your organization. If you don’t know what is going on around you, how can you stay competitive?” explains McNerney.

How to Write Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives

This section is the bulk of your strategic plan. Many people confuse goals and objectives, thinking the terms are interchangeable, but many argue that the two are distinct. You can think of them this way:

Goals : Goals are broad statements about what you want to achieve as a company, and they’re usually qualitative. They function as a description of where you want to go, and they can address both the short and long term.

Objectives : Objectives support goals, and they’re usually quantitative and measurable. They describe how you will measure the progress needed to arrive at the destination you outlined in the goal. More than one objective can support one goal.

For example, if your goal is to achieve success as a strategic planner, your objective would be to write all sections of the strategic plan in one month.

iBossWell, Inc.’s McNerney reiterates that there are not hard and fast definitions for the terms goals and objectives , as well as many other strategic planning concepts. “I wouldn’t attempt to put a definition to the terms. You hear the terms goals and objectives a lot, but they mean different things to different people. What some people call a goal , others call an objective . What some people call an objective , others would call a KPI. ” They key, she explains, is to decide what the terms mean in your organization, explain the definitions to key stakeholders, and stick to those definitions.

How to Write Goals

Goals form the basis of your strategic plan. They set out your priorities and initiatives, and therefore are critical elements and define what your plan will accomplish. Some planning specialists use the term strategic objectives or strategic priorities when referring to goals, but for clarity, this article will use the term goals.

“[Goals] are the higher level that contain several statements about what your priorities are,” McNerney explains. They are often near the top of your plan’s hierarchy.

Each goal should reflect something you uncovered during the analysis phase of your strategic planning process. Goals should be precise and concise statements, not long narratives. For example, your goals might be the following:

Eliminate case backlog.

Lower production costs.

Increase total revenue.

Each goal should have a stated outcome and a deadline. Think of goal writing as a formula: Action + detail of the action + a measurable metric + a deadline = goal. For example, your goal might be: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020.

Another way to look at it: Verb (action) + adjective (description) = noun (result). An example goal: Increase website fundraising.

Your goals should strike a balance between being aspirational and tangible. You want to stretch your limits, but not make them too difficult to reach. Your entire organization and stakeholders should be able to remember and understand your goals.

Think about goals with varying lengths. Some should go out five to 10 years, others will be shorter — some significantly so. Some goals might even be quarterly, monthly, or weekly. But be careful to not create too many goals. Focus on the ones that allow you to zero in on what is critical for your company’s success. Remember, several objectives and action steps will likely come from each goal.

How to Write Objectives

Objectives are the turn-by-turn directions of how to achieve your goals. They are set in statement and purpose with no ambiguity about whether you achieve them or not.

Your goals are where you want to go. Next, you have to determine how to get there, via a few different objectives that support each goal. Note that objectives can cover several areas.

“You need implementation elements of the plan to be successful,” McNerney says, adding that some people refer to objectives as tactics , actions , and many other terms.

Objectives often begin with the words increase or decrease because they are quantifiable and measurable. You will know when you achieve an objective. They are action items, often with start and end dates.

Use the goal example from earlier: Increase total revenue by 5 percent in three product areas by the third quarter of 2020. In this example, your objectives could be:

Approach three new possible clients each month.

Promote the three key product areas on the website and in email newsletters.

Think of the acronym SMART when writing objectives: Make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, and time-bound.

Breaking down the process further, some strategic planners use the terms strategies and tactics to label ways to achieve objectives. Using these terms, strategies describe an approach or method you will use to achieve an objective. A tactic is a specific activity or project that achieves the strategy, which, in turn, helps achieve the objective.

How to Write about Capacity, Operations Plans, Marketing Plans, and Financial Plans

After you come up with your goals and objectives, you need to figure out who will do what, how you will market what they do, and how you will pay for what you need to do.

“If you choose to shortchange the process [and not talk about capacity and finances], you need to know what the consequences will be,” explains McNerney. “If you do not consider the additional costs or revenues your plan is going to drive, you may be creating a plan you cannot implement.”

To achieve all the goals outlined in your strategic plan, you need the right people in place. Include a section in your strategic plan where you talk about the capacity of your organization. Do you have the team members to accomplish the objectives you have outlined in order to reach your goals? If not, you may need to hire personnel.

The operations plan maps out your initiatives and shows you who is going to do what, when, and how. This helps transform your goals and objectives into a reality. A summary of it should go into your strategic plan. If you need assistance writing a comprehensive implementation plan for your organization, this article can guide you through the process.

A marketing plan describes how you attract prospects and convert them into customers. You don’t need to include the entire marketing plan in your strategic plan, but you might want to include a summary. For more information about writing marketing plans, this article can help.

Then there are finances. We would all like to accomplish every goal, but sometimes we do not have enough money to do so. A financial plan can help you set your priorities. Check out these templates to help you get started with a financial plan.

How to Write Performance Indicators

In order to know if you are reaching the goals you outline in your strategic plan, you need performance indicators. These indicators will show you what success looks like and ensure accountability. Sadly, strategic plans have a tendency to fail when nobody periodically assesses progress.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can show you how your business is progressing. KPIs can be both financial and nonfinancial measures that help you chart your progress and take corrective measures if actions are not unfolding as they should. Other terms similar to KPIs include performance measures and performance indicators .

Performance indicators are not always financial, but they must be quantifiable. For example, tracking visitors to a website, customers completing a contact form, or the number of proposals that close with deals are all performance indicators that keep you on track toward achieving your goals.

When writing your performance indicators, pay attention to the following:

Define how often you need to report results.

Every KPI must have some sort of measure.

List a measure and a time period.

Note the data source where you will get your information to measure and track.

ASP’s Stockmal has some questions for you to ask yourself about picking performance indicators.

Are you in control of the performance measure?

Does the performance measure support the strategic outcomes?

Is it feasible?

Is data available?

Who is collecting that data, and how will they do it?

Is the data timely?

Is it cost-effective to collect that data?

ls the goal quantifiable, and can you measure it over time?

Are your targets realistic and time-bound?

Stockmal also says performance indicators cannot focus on only one thing at the detriment of another. “Don’t lose what makes you good,” he says. He adds that focusing on one KPI can hurt other areas of a company’s performance, so reaching a goal can be short-sided.

Some performance indicators can go into your strategic plan, but you might want to set other goals for your organization. A KPI dashboard can help you set up and track your performance and for more information about setting up a KPI dashboard, this article can help.

Communicating Your Strategic Plan

While writing your strategic plan, you should think about how to share it. A plan is no good if it sits on a shelf and nobody reads it.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“After the meetings are over, you have to turn your strategy into action,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . “Get in front of employees and present the plan [to get everyone involved].” Hofmeyer explains his research has shown that people stay with companies not always because of money, but often because they buy into the organization’s vision and want to play a part in helping it get where it wants to go. “These are the people you want to keep because they are invested,” he says.

Decide who should get a physical copy of the entire plan. This could include management, the board of directors, owners, and more. Do your best to keep it from your competitors. If you distribute it outside of your company, you might want to attach a confidentiality waiver.

You can communicate your plan to stakeholders in the following ways:

Hold a meeting to present the plan in person.

Highlight the plan in a company newsletter.

Include the plan in new employee onboarding.

Post the plan on the employee intranet, along with key highlights and a way to track progress.

If you hold a meeting, make sure you and other key planners are prepared to handle the feedback and discussion that will arise. You should be able to defend your plan and reinforce its key areas. The goal of the plan’s distribution is to make sure everyone understands their role in making the plan successful.

Remind people of your company’s mission, vision, and values to reinforce their importance. You can use posters or other visual methods to post around the office. The more that people feel they play an important part in the organization’s success, they more successful you will be in reaching your goals of your strategic plan.

Challenges in Writing a Strategic Plan

As mentioned, strategic planning is a process and involves a team. As with any team activity, there will be challenges.

Sometimes the consensus can take priority over what is clear. Peer pressure can be a strong force, especially if a boss or other manager is the one making suggestions and people feel pressured to conform. Some people might feel reluctant to give any input because they do not think it matters to the person who ultimately decides what goes into the plan.

Team troubles can also occur when one or more members does not think the plan is important or does not buy into the process. Team leaders need to take care of these troubles before they get out of hand.

Pay attention to your company culture and the readiness you have as a group, and adapt the planning process to fit accordingly. You need to find the balance between the process and the final product.

The planning process takes time. Many organizations do not give themselves enough time to plan properly, and once you finish planning, writing the document or presentation also takes time, as does implementation. Don’t plan so much that you ignore how you are going to put the plan into action. One symptom of this is not aligning the plan to fit the capacity or finances of the company.

Stockmal explains that many organizations often focus too much on the future and reaching their goals that they forget what made them a strong company in the first place. Business architecture is important, which Stockmal says is “building the capabilities the organization needs to fulfill its strategy.” He adds that nothing happens if there is no budget workers to do the work necessary to drive change.

Be careful with the information you gather. Do not take shortcuts in the research phase — that will lead to bad information coming out further in the process. Also, do not ignore negative information you may learn. Overcoming adversity is one way for companies to grow.

Be wary of cutting and pasting either from plans from past years or from other similar organizations. Every company is unique.

And while this may sound obvious, do not ignore what your planning process tells you. Your research might show you should not go in a direction you might want to.

Writing Different Types of Strategic Plans

The strategic planning process will differ based on your organization, but the basic concepts will stay the same. Whether you are a nonprofit, a school, or a for-profit entity, strategic plans will look at where you are and how you will get to where you want to go.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Nonprofit

For a nonprofit, the strategic plan’s purpose is mainly how to best advance the mission. It’s imperative to make sure the mission statement accurately fits the organization.

In addition to a SWOT analysis and other sections that go into any strategic plan, a nonprofit needs to keep an eye on changing factors, such as funding. Some funding sources have finite beginnings and endings. Strategic planning is often continuous for nonprofits.

A nonprofit has to make the community care about its cause. In a for-profit organization, the marketing department works to promote the company’s product or services to bring in new revenue. For a nonprofit, however, conveying that message needs to be part of the strategic plan.

Coming up with an evaluation method and KPIs can sometimes be difficult for a nonprofit, since they are often focused on goals other than financial gain. For example, a substance abuse prevention coalition is trying to keep teens from starting to drink or use drugs, and proving the coalition’s methods work is often difficult to quantify.

This template can help you visually outline your strategic plan for your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Download Nonprofit Strategic Plan Template

Excel | Smartsheet

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a School

Writing a strategic plan for a school can be difficult because of the variety of stakeholders involved, including students, teachers, other staff, and parents.

Strategic planning in a school is different from others because there are no markets to explore, products to produce, clients to woo, or adjustable timelines. Schools often have set boundaries, missions, and budgets.

Even with the differences, the same planning process and structure should be in place for schools as it is for other types of organizations.

This template can help your university or school outline your strategic plan.

University Strategic Plan Outline Word Template

‌ ‌Download University Strategic Plan Outline – Word

How to Write a 5-Year Strategic Plan

There is no set time period for a strategic plan, but five years can be a sweet spot. In some cases, yearly planning might keep you continually stuck in the planning process, while 10 years might be too far out.

In addition to the basic sections that go into any strategic plan, when forecasting five years into the future, put one- and three-year checkpoints into the plan so you can track progress intermittently.

How to Write a 3-Year Strategic Plan

While five years is often the strategic planning sweet spot, some organizations choose to create three-year plans. Looking too far ahead can be daunting, especially for a new or changing company.

In a three-year plan, the goals and objectives have a shorter timeframe and you need to monitor them more frequently. Build those checkpoints into the plan.

“Most organizations do a three- to five-year plan now because they recognize the technology and the changes in business that are pretty dynamic now,” Stockmal says.

How to Write a Departmental Strategic Plan

The first step in writing a strategic plan for your department is to pay attention to your company’s overall strategic plan. You want to make sure the plans align.

The steps in creating a plan for a department are the same as for an overall strategic plan, but the mission statement, vision, SWOT analysis, goals, objectives, and so on are specific to only the people in your department. Look at each person separately and consider their core competencies, strengths, capabilities, and weaknesses. Assign people who will be responsible for certain tasks and tactics necessary to achieve your goals.

If you have access to a plan from a previous year, see how your department did in meeting its goals. Adjust the new plan accordingly.

When you finish your departmental plan, make sure to submit it to whomever is responsible for your company’s overall plan. Expect to make changes.

How to Write a Strategic Plan for a Project

A strategic plan is for the big picture, not for a particular project for an organization. Instead of a strategic plan, this area would fall under project management.

If you have a failing project and need to turn it around, this article might help.

How to Write a Personal Strategic Plan

Creating a strategic plan isn’t only for businesses. You can also create a strategic plan to help guide both your professional and personal life. The key is to include what is important to you. This process takes time and reflection.

Be prepared for what you discover about yourself. Because you will be looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you might see things you do not like. It is important to be honest with yourself. A SWOT analysis on yourself will give you some honest feedback if you let it.

Begin with looking at your life as it is now. Are you satisfied? What do you want to do more or less? What do you value most in your life? Go deeper than saying family, happiness, and health. This exercise will help you clarify your values.

Once you know what is important to you, come up with a personal mission statement that reflects the values you cherish. As it does within a business, this statement will help guide you in making future decisions. If something does not fit within your personal mission, you shouldn’t do it.

Using the information you discovered during your SWOT and mission statement process, come up with goals that align with your values. The goals can be broad, but don’t forget to include action items and timeframes to help you reach your goals.

As for the evaluation portion, identify how you will keep yourself accountable and on track. You might involve a person to remind you about your plan, calendar reminders, small rewards when you achieve a goal, or another method that works for you.

Below is additional advice for personal strategic plans:

There are things you can control and things you cannot. Keep your focus on what you can act on.

Look at the positive instead of what you will give up. For example, instead of focusing on losing weight, concentrate on being healthier.

Do not overcommit, and do not ignore the little details that help you reach your goals.

No matter what, do not dwell on setbacks and remember to celebrate successes.

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Essential Guide to Strategic Planning

Strategic planning maps the initiatives and investments required to achieve long‑⁠term strategic objectives. Here’s how to do it well.

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Strategic planning that works — even in volatile times

Just 29% of strategists say their organizations change plans fast enough to respond to disruption. What’s the problem? Most often, unclear objectives, poor strategic planning processes and disengaged business leaders.

Use this guide to:

Turn your strategy into action faster

Combat 7 mistakes  common to strategic planning

Capture and communicate your plans with an  exclusive one-page template

4 critical things to know about strategic planning

Especially in times of disruption, it’s key to understand what strategic planning is and does, what assumptions you need and how to leverage the value of adaptive strategy and scenario planning.

  • What Is Strategic Planning?
  • Strategic Assumptions
  • Scenario Planning
  • Adaptive Strategy

Strategy and strategic plans: How they are different and why it matters

Strategy creates a common understanding of what an organization wants to achieve and what it needs to do to meet its goals. Strategic plans bridge the gap from overall direction to specific projects and day-to-day actions that ultimately execute the strategy. Job No. 1 is to know the difference between strategy and strategic plans — and why it matters.

Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise. It articulates what the enterprise will do to compete and succeed in its chosen markets or, for the public sector, what the agency will do to achieve its mission.

Strategic planning defines how the enterprise will realize its strategic ambitions in the midterm. Too often, strategic plans are created and then forgotten until the next planning cycle begins. A well-done strategic plan turns an enterprise strategy into a clear roadmap of initiatives, actions and investments required to execute the strategy and meet business goals.

Functional strategic plans document the choices and actions needed for the function to move from the current state to the desired end state, and contribute effectively to the enterprise business model and goals.

Business unit strategic plans define and finalize business unit goals, objectives and initiatives, while cognizant of enterprise priorities and external trends. 

Operational plans deal with the short-term execution of specific projects and changes, as well as any operational tasks not contained in the strategic plan.

What Is Strategic Planning?

If you’re responsible for functional strategy,  such as IT , create strategic frameworks focused only on what’s material — critical assumptions, relevant metrics and the key initiatives your function needs to contribute effectively to organizational goals, even as those goals shift.

Look out for key trends and disruptions, and test strategic assumptions

It’s critical to scan and respond to trends and disruptions that could impact your strategy and strategic plans — and change your strategic assumptions. Strategic planning cycles should incorporate some mechanism to vet assumptions for relevance (also see “Scenario Planning”).

Ignoring or devaluing trends and disruptions can leave critical gaps in both your strategic assumptions and your strategic planning process, because you may be overlooking both threats and opportunities for your value proposition and competitive positioning.

One Gartner survey found that only 38% of organizations have a formal process for this type of trendspotting. Gartner scopes the seven key areas of disruptive change as a “TPESTRE” of interconnected trend areas (see figure). 

Executives across functions and teams can use the TPESTRE construct to identify key trends at any time — from augmented human experience to purpose-driven organizations and digitally enabled sustainability — and analyze their impact. From there, they can build strategic assumptions around the trends as they begin to map what actions might be needed in terms of business models, people/capabilities, IT systems and resources.

After sudden humanitarian or geopolitical disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a framework like TPESTRE can help you identify and monitor  a range of risks  that may affect your enterprise or function and that you may need to include in scenario planning. 

Strategic Planning Trends

Scenario planning as a strategic planning tool for functions

Scenario planning enables executives and their teams to explore and evaluate plausible alternative futures to make strategic plans more robust and resilient. Pandemic-related disruption and volatility showed the importance of leveraging a range of scenarios to reset business strategy and strategic plans. 

Commonly used by strategists at the organizational level, scenario planning at the functional level is just as valuable. Many functional leaders have little experience with strategic scenario planning, even though they may regularly work with their CFO to build budget and forecast scenarios. Those who can learn and apply scenario planning in strategic planning can help their organization navigate volatile and dynamic conditions more effectively, especially in areas like supply chain , where disruption remains high.

Exploring scenarios enables you to determine suitable action plans or strategies for different possible futures. It reveals how to react to a specific future and which set of actions would make sense no matter what conditions ultimately unfold. 

For leaders of functional teams, developing scenarios and their underlying assumptions is in itself a useful exercise to corroborate or challenge strategies and keep them current.

The objective of scenario planning is to secure the best immediate outcome while preparing suitable alternative action plans, depending on how a situation unfolds. Proactively agreeing on both near-term operational decisions and long-term strategic plans will reduce the time it takes you to respond to emerging risks and opportunities. This can help your function preempt, rather than reactively control for, the negative effects of a major event or disruption.

scenario planning

Additional resources:

Guide to Scenario Planning for Functional Leaders

Scenario Planning for Supply Chain Leaders

Scenario Planning Ignition Guide for Marketing

Strengthen Your R&D Portfolio With Scenario Planning

Use adaptive strategic planning to enable a dynamic response

In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, strategy can rapidly become out-of-date. To address this challenge, strategic planning must be adaptive. The faster the rate of change in operating conditions and the more disruptions you need to integrate into long-term strategy, the more adaptive your strategy models must be.

An adaptive strategy approach is what ensures your organization can spot new opportunities earlier and respond more quickly than your competitors, making you most likely to succeed in a dynamic digital world.

A truly adaptive strategy approach is consistent with four core practices (see figure) designed to move the enterprise from a rigid, top-down, calendar-based process to a more event-driven strategy approach. Functional strategy can incorporate the same principles. While a truly adaptive approach will be based on all four core practices, functional leaders can initially focus on the practices that address their immediate strategy challenges. 

Rather than requiring perfect or complete information to execute, adaptive strategy uses available information to identify immediate actions required for an enterprise or function to be successful. These actions may range from focusing on high-priority areas to making foundational investments or conducting experiments to test ideas. You can use insights from these actions, along with any new information and analysis, to identify your next set of actions.

Adaptive strategy requires you to review strategy whenever new (and relevant) information becomes available, so it’s important to continually scan the business context to identify changes and review — and, where necessary, adjust — strategy in response to changes. (Also see “Strategic Assumptions.”)

Adaptive Strategic Planning

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Frequently asked questions

What is strategic planning.

Strategic planning is the process through which enterprises, functions and business units identify the roadmap of initiatives and portfolio of investments that will be required in the medium term to achieve long-term strategic objectives.

What are the four types of strategic planning and the three levels of strategic planning?

Strategic planning starts with setting strategy at the enterprise level, but that strategy must then be turned into action. The three levels of strategic planning typically refer to corporate versus business unit and functional. The four types of plans are typically strategic, operational, tactical and contingency.

What steps are involved in the strategic planning process?

To build a successful strategic plan with a consistent and sequential process,  functional leaders  should:

Ensure consistent usage of terms to minimize confusion in strategic planning and set a baseline for collaboration

Build a strong foundation for more detailed planning by setting or pressure-testing mission, vision and goal statements first

Streamline stakeholder input by limiting mission, vision and goal setting to senior leadership, and leaving objective, action plan, and measure and metric development to managers with execution expertise

What are the key elements of strategic planning?

The key elements of a successful strategic plan include:

Mission and vision.  The organization’s mission articulates its reasons for being, and the vision lays out where the organization hopes to be. The strategic plan, which links the two, must be adaptive enough to respond if the context changes during execution.

Strategic assumptions.  To build a successful strategic plan, leadership should scope for trends and disruptions, and assess their potential impact on enterprise goals.

Strategic plan design.  A rigorous strategic planning design effectively translates the strategy into plans that can and will be executed. Poor plans lead to poor execution.

What are the key terms in strategic planning?

Mission: Organization’s purpose

Vision: Desired future state

Objective: How to reach goals

Action plan: What’s needed to achieve objectives

Measures and metrics: To track progress toward goals

How do we design a strategic planning system?

Strategic planning “systems” refer to the tools used to document strategic plans. Gartner urges organizations not to focus on strategy in terms of the document they’re creating, but instead focus on turning strategy into an easily communicated action plan.

What is a strategic action plan?

The strategic action plan is a formal document that serves as the primary source of information for how objectives will be executed, monitored, controlled and closed. Many organizations also deploy an associated but separate “action plan” for achieving the operating model. 

What are strategic measures and metrics?

Measures are observable outcomes that allow organizations to evaluate the efficacy of their action plans. Metrics quantify those observed changes to enable an organization to concretely quantify its progress and stay aligned to its chosen measures.

What are the 7 key success factors involved in strategic planning?

These seven success factors are key to producing high-quality strategic plans that will be successfully executed yet responsive to change:

Focus on designing a minimally viable strategy.

Customize planning efforts to meet participants where they are.

Sketch out initiative design before prioritizing strategic actions.

Be clear about who owns what.

Cascade plans side to side, not just top-down.

Focus performance measures on key assumptions.

Pressure-test plans against a narrow set of future scenarios.

Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.

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Strategic plan

The Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering (CEGE) offers broad areas of engineering and science expertise, with a proven record of excellence in many areas, and is uniquely positioned to address a number of contemporary and emerging engineering challenges.

This section provides a summary of the existing Departmental expertise to illustrate our transition to “Collaborative themes” that define our future growth and describe our strategic connections to other fields of engineering and science and their applications. These interdisciplinary themes will stimulate and expand our collaborations with scientists, engineers, policy makers and researchers in social sciences, humanities, business and law, enabling us to successfully address a manifold of complex technological and societal issues.

The Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering is currently revising its strategic plan. Please revisit this page for future updates.

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  • Mechanical, it the branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction, and use of machines
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  • Civil,  is the branch of engineering that looks for ways on how people can live a convenient life or to make our living condition less difficult to live.You may also check out  implementation plan examples .
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  • Management, this is the kind of engineering that combines the general kinds of engineering (technical and structural) with business.You may also like  company plan examples .
  • Geotechnical, is the branch of engineering that focuses on the rock formation, the roads, soil, pathways, highways, and the likes.

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How to Create an Engineering Roadmap

What is an engineering roadmap.

An engineering roadmap is a high-level overview of the plans and objectives for developing a product.

An engineering roadmap for a business that makes computers, for example, would summarize major goals and milestones of the designers and component engineers who develop the company’s products. At a software maker, it would summarize the work of the developers responsible for coding the company’s apps. An engineering roadmap in a software company could also be called a software development roadmap.

Note: An engineering roadmap is not the same as an IT roadmap or an infrastructure roadmap. Those roadmaps are internal, focused on the strategic plans and goals for a company’s technology infrastructure. An engineering roadmap focuses on the plans for building the products that the company plans to sell.

Engineering roadmaps can be helpful in any company that develops physical or digital products. Still, agile development organizations most often use them.

When do Product Engineering Teams need a Roadmap?

Having a roadmap that summarizes their department’s high-level plans and goals can help an engineering team in several ways.

For example:

  • It helps the company’s engineers understand the bigger strategic picture. When engineers in an agile organization begin a sprint, their focus becomes narrow. They have specific user stories, bug fixes, or other tactical work to complete within a few weeks. With an engineering roadmap, these engineers can step back at any time and see how the small jobs they are working on today fit into the company’s bigger plans for success. The roadmap can both help these engineers stay focused and inspire them to work through what might seem like unimportant daily tasks.
  • It leads to better engineering decisions. Engineering teams have to make many decisions, often in a hurry, throughout the product development process. A high-level roadmap, reminding them of the strategic vision , can help with these decisions. Having the roadmap to refer to will enable engineers to intelligently answer the many questions that come up from day-to-day. Then they can make better decisions when faced with choices about how to handle their tasks.
  • It helps keep the team on time and on budget. If an engineering department were to plan its resources only one sprint at a time, the team would likely face capacity and budget problems over time. The engineering department will be ill-prepared for what was coming next. For example, if the current sprint was only lightly taxing the team’s engineers but the upcoming sprint was going to be extremely demanding, then they’ll have problems. An engineering roadmap can solve these problems. It allows the team to take a longer-term view, and plan resources accordingly.

How to Build Your Engineering Roadmap

If you’ve never created an engineering roadmap, starting from scratch might feel overwhelming. So here is a step-by-step checklist to help get you started.


Determine your big-picture strategic goal.

With any roadmap, you need to start with the end in mind. Answer the following questions and you’re off to a good start.

  • Why are you creating this roadmap?
  • What high-level strategic goal do you want your engineering team to accomplish?
  • What will success look like?

STEP 2: Prioritize the significant themes (or epics) of your engineering plan.

Now that you have a strategic vision for your engineering roadmap, it’s time to translate that vision into specific goals for your engineering team to tackle. On a roadmap, these high-level goals are called themes or epics.

STEP 3: Break your long-term plan into short sprints.

Agile organizations break development cycles into sprints. These are short periods of engineering work (usually two weeks or one month), where the team completes only a few agreed-upon pieces of work. Break your engineering roadmap into several sprints—for example, a half-dozen one-month sprints across a six-month roadmap. Your roadmap’s epics and themes will often include work that spans several sprints.

STEP 4: Set up teams and their areas of responsibility.

At this point, you’ve broken down the planned work to the individual sprint level. Now it’s time to establish teams and decide who’s going to be working on what. As you’ll see in the engineering roadmap template below, you can break your roadmap’s lanes into engineering teams. With lanes, each team and engineer can easily see what they’ll be working on throughout the cycle.

STEP 5: Integrate the roadmap with your project management tools.

Your engineering roadmap should represent only the high-level plans and initiatives for your team. In order to assign and monitor the day-to-day tasks your engineers will be working on, you’ll want to use your favorite project-management application. With the right roadmap software, you can integrate your roadmap’s initiatives with your project-management tool, so that you can keep both your detailed to-do lists and your high-level overview up to date. For example, ProductPlan’s roadmap software integrates with Jira as well as with Pivotal Tracker .

STEP 6: Share your roadmap with relevant stakeholders.

After you’ve populated your engineering roadmap with epics and themes, sprints, teams, milestones your final action will be to share it with stakeholders. You will want to show your big-picture plans for product development (including engineering) work over the coming months or years. Other interested stakeholders could consist of your executive staff, who might want to see your plan for completing a large-scale engineering initiative. In the section below, you’ll find a few best practices for sharing your engineering roadmap.

STEP 7: Stay flexible because things change.

Download Feature-less Roadmaps: Unlock Your Product's Strategic Potential➜

Tips for Sharing Your Completed Engineering Roadmap

Start with why..

Simon Sinek popularized the term “Start with Why” first in his famous TED Talk and then in the book by the same name. The concept refers to giving your audience a reason to get behind your product or project before rattling off a list of its features or other details.

When you present your roadmap to stakeholders, open the discussion by explaining why you’ve developed the plan you’re about to share. The details won’t matter to your audience until they understand how you envision the project helps the business.

Make it visual.

Your engineering roadmap presentation will be a lot more compelling if your audience can quickly and easily grasp your high-level goals and plans. The best way to achieve this clarity in the room is by using a visual roadmap—not a spreadsheet or document that lists the details.

Be concise.

You should be able to communicate the critical points behind your plan in everyday language, using just a sentence or two. For example: “Our evidence suggests developing mobile versions of these two products will help us break into these three markets…” or “… could help us increase our overall user base by 15% by the end of the year.”

Be ready with data.

Your roadmap presentation doesn’t have to include all of the market research, usage data, and other evidence you analyzed to make your decisions about what to build and when. Doing so will only clutter your presentation and confuse your stakeholders. But you will want to have this critical data handy, in case people in your audience ask for evidence supporting your plans or claims.

Build your own engineering roadmap with our free template ➜

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Engineering Consulting Business Plan Template

MAR.12, 2020

Engineering Consulting Business Plan

Business Plan for starting your engineering consulting firm

Thousands of engineering students are out there with high dreams and aspirations to start and excel in a successful business out there. Having different minds with different plans for a company, but business plans for engineering consulting services are nowadays one of the most exciting and familiar ideas among youngsters. It is wise enough to say that to think and execute any purpose takes efforts in the right direction. Some of them with great views also fail and finally surrender all because of the wrong execution.

So, how to start an engineering consulting business is the central question one should have in mind. Being a businessperson is not that easy because when it comes to marketing, he always looks for more and more profit, but there are ups and downs. For a young mind that has just started his business and is new to the market, it often becomes frustrating with such fluctuations. You need to invest in the right direction and wait patiently for the results.

Always remember, “Rome was not built in a day.” Your mission should be to provide the best and most efficient service to the people, with all types of planning, concept building, and completion. Your team should be highly professional and skilled, which you might be the critical factor, too, using experience and ideas making your customers satisfied. The development of a working strategy and working on its implementation is all it takes. Indeed starting an engineering consulting firm has several challenges that need to get sorted out though we cannot deny the fact that it is a very profitable business.

Further in the article, we will be dealing with these:-

Executive summary

The firm here is to provide all the possible support and successfully solve the problems of the people out there with high, excellent, and efficient consulting services. The firms have a team of competent and well-trained professionals, which would try to help people with consulting to all possible extents. Bit of direct investments in money and time can help you in the long run. The starting of the business is not easy, but it is the most significant step.

Start to invest little, don’t let any even the customers with very less profit go down and start gaining a name in the market. Implementation of quality control work as well as assurance program is beneficial and provides more scope and focus for production work. One needs to be more strategic and schedule oriented to get a good hold over several prospects in the engineering consulting business.

How will the engineering consulting business be started?

The business initially would be all about a small investment and hard works. The company will be started based on providing the best service possible for delivering professional quality services with excellent and efficient budgets and doing so on time. The business plan companies was started to implement and maintain the best policy control and develop a strategy for doing so and maintaining a smooth relation with the customers.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Startup Cost

Engineering business

The private limited company is competent enough to deal with any kind of such business. The founder himself, being a professional engineer, is having profound knowledge in the engineering business. The team working alongside is also well to do with such a company and is highly efficient in providing the best service possible. The cost that might involve in such a business may depend on the size of the market. In our opinion, start slow, and then with the growth and expansion, the investments too would become more.

Management of engineering consulting business

The founder does the control of the market; he makes the initial and capital investments made for the company. He is the one who manages the investments made for the company following development and future growth. The management and success of the business, at last, are the results of cooperation and hard work by the team of workers in the venture.

Customers of engineering consulting firms

The customer of such a business, mainly the one who needs help and expert assistance in the specific project, may be private or public. These firms can provide expertise in the sections such as design, model, execution, and many many more aspects relating to civil, electrical, mechanical, and sometimes software engineering. Effective and efficacious communication is very helpful when it comes to engineering consulting. It is a way, which is more efficient, and most number of people can easily get through their problems/issues regarding their engineering projects/career easily. The customers of such firms are the people who need a tinge of experienced advice and guidance over their projects.

Business targets

Start with a little, and do not ever panic to make decisions for your investment for your business plan . The goal mainly should deal with providing the customer what they need, and going on with slow and steady growth to increase the business, I a year or two of your business years the target should be to get market value and minimum. Increase in the gross margin (which would significantly help your firm to grow), and the profit line should be one of your targets.

Company summary

Company owner.

The owner of the company is an experienced and skilled engineer. His mind-set is mainly involved in the welfare of the customers. The owner is the one responsible or every type of investments and inputs to the company, he not only is a role model for the company and the team but also is the main thought behind the concept of setting such a business. He was always into such an idea since starting of his carrier, and with hard works and efforts here, he is today making the dream come true

Why is the engineering consulting business being started?

The owner, as specified above, had the idea of doing so. The company is being stated to deal with the problems of the people, help them in all possible ways when it comes to consultations about design, model, and structure of the project or sometimes thoroughly supervising the project. The company aims to provide every possible expertise in the plans. They always will be getting befits from the best ideas and lots of experience.

Establish a web presence

A web presence is essential for any type of business to grow in the era of technology, and especially one that is dealing with engineering and technology needs to have a web presence. It not only makes your company grab opportunities from any part of the world but also makes your presence in the market stable. Our business mainly deals with consulting services, which needs a web presence. More good reviews and a significant presence out there allow you to grab more and more.

Services for the customers

  • The leading function is for consultation and investigation which further also involves studies regarding it
  • It includes detailed and comprehensive research and analysis of different conditions
  • Comparison between different service ideas and opinion for the project
  • Many various factors, such as risk management, capital and project cost, management analysis, and different environmental facts.
  • When it comes to civil consultancy, it includes many urban and land development plans along with generating different and the best possible facilities
  • Public involvement is also one of the services provided, the owner of the project need new concepts and ideas for explaining and involving the public with him
  • When dealt with mechanical, the services can include selection and testing of materials, specialized equipment selection and employing people with supervising them for the project
  • Evaluation and examination of the existing materials and rating them accordingly is one of the services
  • They have some professional services like designing, bidding, and construction
  • Further, they analyze the report based on the study and explain aspects such as financial requirements to the project

Market analysis of the engineering consulting business

If business was a sport, then the market is the playing ground where it is performed. Any type of business needs a demand to complete, and for a growing activity, it needs to expand and grow.

Market trends

Potentially we as an engineering consulting firm have a lot of different markets to target. According to the direction, we are there for planning and designing services. We not help the designs of the project with our innovative ideas but also give a proper plan to execute it. The trend shows that most of the inputs in the market come from architectural designing, then comes the structural design, and lastly, the mechanical and electrical designing.

The most important market for our firm would be the structural and the architectural designing companies as they need the inputs and detailed analysis of their projects.

Market segmentation

  • For engineering, architectural, and structural firms- most of the customers for our firms are from these companies. The market in these firms have a great need for consulting services; the inputs with ideas, planning, design, and structural development are well-known works out there. Even financial management is one of the aspects
  • Some government departments need the help of consultations firms with projects such as construction, forensic engineering, or structural management. We would like to present ourselves as a firm standing out there with consultation services for projects such as management and restoration.
  • Law-related works are also one of our market targets. We would like to provide our expertise in fields such as mediation, arbitration and many more which would be assisted by forensic engineering
  • Private individuals and realtors- we would like to provide services regarding home inspection for those people who are renovating or fixing their hose up with modern equipment
  • Bodies such as Municipal Corporation also might be one of our markets. Since we are not only interested in business but also promoting it and expanding our market. Bodies such as, municipal cooperation have a vast access to people, if we can collaborate with such organizations and try to help them out. Technically, they can be one of our advertising bodies and not only this much since they work for the government and if they approve you to be a legitimate body, we can attract young students, who are interested in engineering as carrier and teach them for their benefit, which ultimately makes more and more name in the market.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Market Segmentation

Our main business targets are all the companies and firms, whether government, private, or individual ventures, who are looking for some expertise in their projects. The main objectives generally would be the substantial architectural and structural firms looking for support with their plans for ideas, designs, and financial planning. Other destinations can be electrical and mechanical firms, bodies like municipal cooperation, government structures, and law firms.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - 3 Years Profit Forecast

To price and bill for a project, which you will be working on is a difficult task. Often the customers can be confusing depending upon their expectation for the price, and one can find it too high and unaffordable while for the other it might be well within the reach

Clients can compare two of the providers but usually goes on what they hear from the market, which makes an essential point of standing in the market with the right name. When reasonable concessions are given with satisfactory work, customers will return to you for the next job, and also the recommendation of your work will create chances in the market.

excellent work

excellent work, competent advice. Alex is very friendly, great communication. 100% I recommend CGS capital. Thank you so much for your hard work!

The primary components of strategy of our business will keep growing and expanding the company in the market. The primary market strategy for the company would include the promotion and spread of the business. Good strategies, along with management for understanding the budgets, can solve your problems easily.

Sales strategy

When it comes to internet and web promotion, we will try to maximize the flow of users to our website with efficient advertisements and campaigns like email campaigns. One of the best ways to connect with customers is to meet them directly. We will try advertising in a limited budget by giving technical supports to NGOs and campaigning in local communities and schools.

Competitive analysis

It is something that is the best way to rate and know where your business is lacking. Comparing another such firm who has similar services to offer allows you to understand how to overcome things which make you lag. Since you are competing and analyzing yourself, it makes you grow with double speed as it would be the combined inputs of both you and the one which you are getting from your competitor. When you analyze on this basis, it makes your market growth, which ultimately makes your business grow.

Sales monthly

Sales monthly and annual are the analysis of the growth of your company in months and years. Regularly the gross margin is expected to be the same all over and will remain constant; with time passing by, it might increase, but it is going to be persistent.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Sales Monthly

Sales yearly

For yearly sales, the first year n is expected to be moreover a constant one, the second year might show fluctuations, and in the third, we expect a growth in gross margin. During this time, the business might need some extra cost input, which disrupts the graph sometimes, but in most cases, it same.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Sales Yearly

Sales forecast

The sales forecast is a summary of the sales and layout of the business in months and years. The sales in months and years are expressed in such estimates. This forecast shows a constant deal typically for three years in a successfully running business with a slow start for the first year. When we talk of the third year, the gross margin likely will increase, but don’t lose your patience and be there to support the business.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Unit Sales

Personnel plan

Company staffs.

A company is a roof that is supported by the strong pillars of the employees working out there. The company staff, which gives you support and confidence to be there out at the market, is one of the main reasons why a venture becomes successful. If the team does this much for you, makes the backbone of your company secure, then they deserve appreciation, which may be in ways of good and justified salary.

The average salary of employees

The average salary of the employees should be adequate to justify their works when an employee gets what he deserves; he gives his best for the company. It creates a healthy environment and a happy workplace for the people out there. The average salary should justify what one does for a company, and most importantly, the employees should have the respect they deserve.

Financial plans

Important assumptions.

We have assumed the economy be healthy and without a recession. We believe the creation of the company will not change the delivery of engineering services. Different taxes and interest rates are taken as conservative assumptions.

Break-even analysis

A break-even analysis helps you compare total variable and fixed costs with sales revenues to determine the level of sales volume. Charts and graphs can show it, and it is the number of sales, which we need to cover the cost, and we don’t think that before a few months such things would happen.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Brake-even Analysis

Projected profit and loss

The projected profit and loss for the first financial year are considered much less, and the gross margin was taken high. As the years pass by and the business is in the second, and the third year the growth can be seen, and gross margin should readily increase

Profit monthly

Profit monthly with our business is moreover seen constant. The profit margins seen every month are next to the same in the initial financial years.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Profit Monthly

Profit yearly

It is the profit of the business in a financial year. In the first year the profit is not expected to be high, the second year remains to fluctuate, and good profits can be appreciated until the third financial year.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Profit Yeraly

Gross margin monthly

Gross margin monthly is the gross profit the company will make in a month. The gross margin monthly is not estimated to be high in our business in the initial months.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Gross Margin Monthly

Gross margin yearly

This is the gross profit made by our company annually. In other words, the sales from the business minus the gross cost. In our business, the first year is not expected to give a great gross margin. However, a steep increase can be expected during the third year.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Gross Margin Yearly

Projected cash flow

The projected cash flow is an essential aspect of the project. With the starting of the business, one should have ready cash inflow, and sometimes an increase in capital investment to boost up the industry is needed. The first periods are often critical, and at this time, a company needs support.

Engineering Consulting Business Plan - Projected Cash Flow

Projected balance sheet

The balance sheet in our business shows healthy financial growth and an increase in the net worth. It shows growth in gross income and increasing business.

Business ratio

It is the ratio indicating if our business is growing or indirectly if we have many to pay our credit holders or not. Our company shows a good ratio, which means we are running out of adequate cash flow.

I hope you got some ideas on how to start with a business in engineering consulting services. Collect your idea and accurately put them for the best result. Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2021

Strategic Marketing Plans for Architects, Engineers, and Contractors


Strategic Marketing Plans (Updated 2021) 

In the design and building industry, strategies are used for designing, engineering, and constructing projects. It should be no different for your company’s marketing and business development teams. A marketing strategy is important to you, your team, and your company. It’s important part of growth and companies who invest in strategic marketing plans have higher profits.

Strategy is planning and brainstorming. Strategy helps you get all your ideas out on paper and analyze which ones are going to get you the best results and get you to where you want to go. It takes expertise, time and commitment to put together and implement a strategic marketing plan.

There are four steps for putting together a marketing strategy:

  • Commitment and buy-in to the process
  • Implementation of the marketing strategy
  • Team accountability
  • Celebrating success

Your first step is determining who is going to be part of the strategic marketing plan both writing it and implementing it. It may be different groups of people based on the size of your firm. This usually involves marketers, business developers, principals, project managers, studio leads, and/or lead engineers. These people are involved with bring in or retaining clients and projects. You must get commitment and buy-in from these people, so the marketing strategy will be implemented and drive the success of the firm.

Having an outside marketing consultant may also be helpful for your firm if you aren’t familiar with strategic marketing. These marketing consultants help generate ideas, determine goals, and keep the team accountable. Find one that knows the industry and someone you are comfortable working with for an extended period of time.

Once you have your marketing strategy team assembled, schedule a brainstorming session. A good time to schedule this brainstorming session is before budgets are assembled (September or October, if your company is on a fiscal budget year), so the team knows the budget they have to work with toward the strategic marketing plan. Without a budget, it’s very hard to put a strategic marketing plan together. Your plan will look very different if you have $50,000 versus $1,000,000 to spend on marketing and business development efforts. ( The Marketing Budget is very important in your strategy. )

You should have no more than 15 people in these brainstorming meetings. If you have a large organization (500+ employees) or multiple locations, then you could set up focus groups and then have a champion of each focus group report back to the strategic marketing group. Make sure you have a scribe to take notes or record the strategy sessions, so you capture everything discussed. Having this information easily available will be helpful when you actually write the plan to refer back to what everyone in the brainstorming session said.

As strategies are determined, tactics or goals should be determined. You should have 2-5 strategies within your marketing and business development plan, and then have 2-10 tactics or goals within each strategy. Writing them down is critical, so you can measure your success and make sure your tactical decisions direct you toward your strategies. It’s your roadmap to success.

A strategy would be: We want to do more work with mechanical engineers. Your goals would be to 1) Make four presentations (list the titles and presenters) throughout the year to six different (list the firms) engineering firms. 2) Physically visit each engineering firm once a month (presentations can count as a visit) giving them project drawings, having a meeting, taking them to lunch, or some other business development activity. The result would be to generate $1 million in sales from those two goals.

Tactics that would align with this strategy would include presentation content, blog content pertaining to the presentation, email campaigns targeted to the engineers, posts on social media targeting mechanical engineers, just to name a few. Tactics are more like projects or steps that are going to get you to your overall goal.

If you struggle to know what a strategic marketing plan looks like, here are some topics that are a good starting point for discussing.

  • Complete a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Ask your customers what they want or need. They usually have great ideas on improving your company and many of them aren’t afraid to make suggestions. ( Client Surveys are a great way to capture these suggestions and you can learn more about the importance of client perception surveys. )
  • Discuss what markets/industries you want to continue to serve.
  • Discuss what new markets/industries you want to start serving.
  • Always ask why? Find out what the reason is for the strategy. It may not be because you disagree but a “why” needs to be justified.
  • Discuss how and where you are going to market yourselves toward this strategy.
  • Discuss if your strategy requires new or update software (Customer Relationship Management (CRM), graphic design, etc.)
  • Discuss when you make these changes, what processes or procedures are going to need to be changed or modified.

Remember some of the activities from the previous years. These might include the following:

  • Customer Appreciation Events
  • Interview Presentations
  • Sponsorships
  • Customer Feedback (Client Perception Surveys)
  • Promotional Products (swag)
  • Trade Shows (whether exhibiting or presenting educational content)
  • Business Development Activities
  • Marketing Collateral (brochures, notecards, presentation deck, sales folders, trade show banners, etc.)
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Digital Advertising
  • Traditional Advertising (print)

The marketing plan which includes a budget is instrumental in your success. Ask your accounting department for marketing and business development budgets from the previous year(s). If your accounting department lumps “marketing” into one category, you’ll want to determine your own method of tracking expenses. Identify successes and failures for the above activities. ( AEC Marketing Budgets are a necessary tool for your marketing plan.)


Communicating and implementing the plan is essential in attaining your goals. Teamwork and buy-in are imperative to the success of a strategic marketing plan. This is where writing down company marketing strategies and goals will help with implementing all your great ideas. Consistent communication with the strategic marketing team requires clear and concise expectations. Let employees know how they will impact the marketing strategy and how they can be part it. When employees understand how their day-to-day roles play into the overall marketing strategy, they see purpose in their position as it relates to marketing and business development for your company. Most employees want to do the best they can at their job, but the marketing or business development leader must give them directions. These directions, however, are meant to be a guide, not an absolute. Multiple forms of communication are necessary, not just in a time of crisis, but throughout the strategic marketing process.


Accountability is also an important component to the strategic marketing plan. Having a scorecard allows the team to see where they are going and where they have been. It also allows the team to see what tactics still need to be implemented and who is responsible for completing those goals.

Create a scorecard that will work for your team. This can be as easy as using a spreadsheet or utilizing your Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). You must measure your goals, so you know if you reach them and in some cases why you don’t reach them. Remember, if you don’t write it down, it’s not a goal. It helps you remember and stay accountable to your principals and yourself. Keeping these goals visible on a daily basis will keep you focused on the strategies at hand.


Once the team accomplishes the goals, you must celebrate as a team. Celebration is important because it recognizes the hard work the team has contributed to reaching the goals. It gives employees pride in their work and motivates them to continue working hard. Recognition is one of the most effective ways to retain your current employees and is an underutilized tools. As a good leader, you must celebrate the team’s achievements. Saying “Thank You” goes a long way.

Here are some additional ideas to celebrate wins:

  • Company Picnic
  • Encourage and Support Professional Development
  • Sports Outing/Event
  • Give Them Time Off
  • Teambuilding Activities
  • Company Logoed Apparel or Office Supplies
  • Take Them Out to Lunch
  • TELL THEM THANK YOU (most employees just want to know they are appreciated for their contribution by being told genuinely they are appreciated)

Once you celebrate, raise the bar a little higher. Expect more from people. Consider it the next challenge. Do something every day that scares you a little bit. It will make you a better person and a better leader.

Take Action!

Committing, implementing, being held accountable, and celebrating are the four ways to effectively lead your team through the strategic marketing plan and goals. You must be ready to take your team through this process, because it will grow your company in more ways than you realize. It’s something you should start right now.

Contact Us Today

Don’t want to take on this yourself. nu marketing consultants architectural, engineering, and construction businesses through their strategic marketing plans to help build business and increase profits. nu marketing offers

  • Strategic Marketing and Business Development Plans
  • Client Perception Surveys
  • Corporate Event Planning
  • Internal Marketing (Retaining Great Employees)
  • Social Media Strategies
  • Trade Show and Conference Tactics
  • Communication Techniques

Communication among the team is vital to the success of a company and having specific, measurable goals, both company-wide and individual, is crucial. Contact us today at  [email protected] or 316-680-3097. We’d love to sit down with you and discuss your marketing strategies.

This blog was originally posted April 2016 and has been updated to reflect current market conditions.

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Indonesia EEC

Strategy and implementation summary.

One of the reasons why captive power has become the most important sector in the Indonesian power market is that the customers need the most reliable and efficient power system to reduce the costs. The PLN subsidized electricity tariff is approximately 40% more expensive, and its disturbance rate is high and getting worse.

Furthermore, PLN’s inability to pay power and natural gas at the prevailing exchange rate has put both PLN and independent power producer (IPP) developers into a very difficult position to move forward with their project implementation between 1999 and 2003. Meanwhile, in line with the government’s export increasing program to strengthen the national reserve funds, many big electricity consumers will face their fast growing demand. This situation will compel many electricity consumers (especially large industrial facilities) to set up their own captive power plants.

As a result of this need, Indonesia EEC will focus its marketing directive on those large, export-oriented, industrial companies.

5.1 Competitive Edge

Indonesia EEC’s overall competitive edge in Indonesia is that it brings its parent company’s name recognition as a “one-stop” services provider encompassing engineering, procurement, construction, and trade financing services. The parent company is seen as having more than one hundred years’ experience in the global industry.

One of the most important key factors in Indonesia EEC’s competitive edge is its expertise in providing access to the trade financing, as follows:

  • Obtaining low-cost financing specific to the buyer’s country.
  • Obtaining commercial and political risk insurance for non-guaranteed loans.
  • Furnishing and processing loan documentation for export credit agencies.
  • Preparing grant proposals and feasibility studies required by the funding institution when a company moves into new markets.
  • Conducting studies to establish project feasibility.
  • Applying for and obtaining final commitment of funds based on feasibility studies.
  • Arranging for the best available financing through private national and international banking institutions.

The establishment of a joint venture company between Indonesia EEC and a strong, experienced local engineering and construction company is the most strategic step to overcome the competition by reduced production costs as well as to improve flexibility in penetrating the markets in developing countries, especially the Asia Region.

5.2 Sales Strategy

The captive power market in Indonesia will be focused and integrated with the private customers outside the multilateral/bilateral aid programs. To sell to this type of market, Indonesia EEC needs to have these seven important propositions:

  • Proven expertise in project financing arrangements, especially under the barter trade arrangements.
  • Direct negotiation approaches with the clients.
  • Strategic alliances with a reputable local company who has experience as either an EPC company or developer in Indonesian power sector, capability, and the in-house facilities to perform the detailed engineering, procurement, and construction of power projects.
  • Competitiveness in pricing.
  • Creative payment terms.
  • Contributions in enhancing the local manufacturing sector by making it more efficient and competitive.
  • Proven expertise in the EPC of reliable and efficient power system.

5.2.1 Sales Forecast

We are planning to increase sales substantially in 2001. This is considered reasonable due to the opportunities available in the industry.

January through March 2001 will offer the highest sales, as many clients will begin the implementation of their projects.

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Latest Federal & Government Contracting Companies' News Coverage

Jeanmarie Brown Takes On Chief Operating Officer Role at Digital Consultancy Firm Raft


Digital consultancy and engineering firm Raft has appointed Jeanmarie Brown as chief operating officer .

In a press release issued Tuesday to Executive Mosaic, Raft said that in her new role, Brown will work to grow the company’s services, lead its daily operations and oversee the execution of its strategic plan.

Brown most recently served at Novetta, where she managed the company’s defense and intelligence business. Her other previous employers include ManTech , IOMAXIS and CACI . She had also served in the U.S. Navy.

Raft Chief Technology Officer Bhaarat Sharma said that Brown’s addition will bring about greater structure and focus in the development of the company’s offerings.

For her part, Raft CEO Shubhi Mishra said the company needs the leadership and expertise Brown brings as it develops new defense offerings.

Regarding her appointment, Brown said: “I am thrilled to be joining an organization that partners with the public sector to make it easy for people to connect with data, which improves the lives of Americans and strengthens our national security posture.”

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