Coming up with a strategic plan to create value for an organization is hard enough, but making sure everyone in the organization understands it and their part in it is critical to its success. Visuals are a simple and effective way of disseminating high-level information, which is why a strategy map is so powerful. Download our free strategy map template for Excel and you’re on your way to achieving your long-term goals.
What Is a Strategy Map?
A strategy map is a visual representation that shows the cause-and-effect of your strategic objectives. It’s part of the larger balanced scorecard methodology and, like a balanced scorecard, breaks up your objectives into four perspectives, which we’ll define in a moment.
The objects are placed in ovals across the four perspectives of the strategy map and arrows illustrate the cause-and-effect relationship between these objectives. Following the path of the arrows makes it clear the objectives in the lower quadrant of the strategy map template drive the success of the ones in the higher quadrants.
The strategy map template is used to communicate how value is created by the organization. While this information can be delivered through meetings and internal memos, the visual tool is often the most effective. It can be quickly understood and easily shared as well as displayed throughout the organization to keep the value creation clear and at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Why Use This Strategy Map Template?
There are many reasons why a strategy map template is used beyond the fact that it’s a visual communication tool. For one, it helps with risk management. It can be exciting to have come up with a strategic plan and then want to quickly implement it. But if the value creation isn’t clear to those in the organization that will be executing the plan, there are going to be problems.
The strategy map template allows you to slow down and consider the objectives from a variety of different perspectives. This helps to ensure that your decisions are right for the whole organization and not just one aspect of it.
Another reason to use the strategy map template is to inform the execution of your strategic plan. Once you have a clear picture of the drivers of your strategic plan, you can start to organize your tasks, resources and associated costs. Project management software will come into play at this stage in the project.
ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps plan, manage and track your strategic plans. Use our powerful Gantt charts to organize and assign tasks, set milestones and view an individual project on a timeline. Better still, use our portfolio roadmap feature to track all of your strategic plans and see how they interact with one another over time. ProjectManager is the ideal software for executing strategic plans across a portfolio. Get started for free.
Who Is This Strategy Map Template For?
Any organization can use this strategy map template. Whether you’re a non-profit, for-profit or even government agency, you’ll find value in our free strategy map for Excel. Some of the professionals who use a strategy map include the following.
- Executive Leadership Teams
- Business Managers
- Department Managers
- Project Portfolio Managers
- Project Management Offices (PMOs)
Benefits of Using a Strategy Map Template
The reason a strategy map template is so useful and used by professionals across many different industries is that it delivers great benefits. We’ve already talked about some, but it’s useful to go into more detail.
Helps Visualize the Strategic Objectives of Your Organization
The purpose of the strategy map template is to visualize the relationships between an organization’s objectives and how they all work together to deliver value to the organization. The visualization of this process is made clear on the strategy map template and easy to communicate from the top of the organization to the bottom, so all stakeholders know their part in achieving the goals of the organization.
Helps Identify Key Areas of Your Business for Resource Allocation Purposes
To achieve those organizational goals, resources must be deployed. But every organization has limited resources and so those resources must be allocated smartly. The strategy map template helps management understand which resources are needed and when to allocate resources more effectively and efficiently.
Helps Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration
Strategy maps visualize the objectives across different organizational perspectives. This helps especially when you have teams across different departments working together on a common goal. The strategy map template helps everyone understand how the interactions between different departments lead to achieving overall organizational goals.
What Is Included in This Strategy Map Template?
Now that you know what a strategy map is and how useful it can be in communicating your strategic goals across all departments of an organization, you’ll want to download our free strategy map template for Excel.
When you do, you can customize it to meet your strategic needs. To help you out, we created a strategy map that Southwest Airlines used to increase its profitability. The free strategy map template shows how they did that across four perspectives and how those objectives across the strategy map led to achieving their strategic goals.
To understand what all the elements in our free strategy map are, we’ve listed and explained them below.
All your strategic objectives are identified by placing them in ovals on the strategic map. There can be many strategic objectives on a single strategy map, but it’s best not to exceed 15. You should focus on the most important value drivers for the organization. These strategic objective ovals will be placed on the four perspectives, which are the four rows that make up the strategy. They’re defined as follows.
The financial perspective is often when organizations stop in terms of looking at their objectives. While important, it’s only one of the four perspectives. When looking at financial strategy, it’s usually measured by revenue growth and productivity. However, a nonprofit or government agency will look at this perspective through its mission rather than its finances.
The next perspective is the customer. The customer is the center of any strategic plan. In terms of objectives, you might be looking to have product leadership, customer intimacy or operational excellence. But don’t put equal weight on each. It’s unrealistic. Instead, decide as to which of those three is most important and focus on that. Nonprofits and governments would be looking at their beneficiaries or citizens, respectively, and how to serve them.
Business Process Perspective
Here’s where you figure out how to achieve the financial and customer objectives. It could be improving internal processes, supporting growth that supports innovation or new-market expansion. You might want to increase customer value by improving your relationships with them or creating more productive relationships with your external stakeholders. Define the business process you’ll use to achieve your objectives.
Learning & Growth Perspective
Last, but not least, here’s where you look at your employees and how to improve their skills or knowledge to achieve the objectives you’ve defined. This will drive your business processes, which in turn will drive your financial and customer objectives.
Related Strategy Templates
If you’re looking for more templates to help with your strategic plan and execution, you’ve come to the right place. ProjectManager is more than great project and portfolio management software, our website is an online hub for all things project management. That includes free project management templates for Excel and Word that can help you no matter what phase of the project you’re working on. Here are a few that can help with strategic planning.
Before you can make a strategy map, you have to have a strategic plan. Our free strategic plan template for Word helps you capture your organization’s vision, goals and objectives. Everything is laid out, from a SWOT analysis to financial projections and more.
A roadmap is a high-level view of your strategy, from all major phases to objectives, milestones, deliverables and more. Our free strategy roadmap template for Excel allows you to plot your tasks and their duration on a spreadsheet that automatically populates a visual timeline.
Any strategic plan is going to involve resources, that is the people, equipment, raw materials and anything else needed to deliver the objective. Our free resource plan template for Excel helps you list your resources and map them on a calendar so you have them when you need them.
How ProjectManager Helps With Strategic Management
Use our free templates, but once you’re executing your strategic plan, you’ll quickly find that templates aren’t enough. They’re static documents that must be manually updated, which slows you down. They’re not great for collaboration, either. You’ll want to use project management software. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that helps you plan, manage and track your strategic plan from beginning to end in real time. We have risk management, task management and resource management features to ensure your objectives are met on time and within budget.
Manage Cross-Functional Teams
Not all teams in every department of an organization work the same way. Managers will love our Gantt charts, but other departments that are tasked with executing work will prefer task lists or kanban boards to manage their workflow with a visual tool that helps them stay on schedule. Our multiple project views allow everyone to work how they want, and all views are updated together in real time to make it easier to collaborate. You can even automate workflows and set task approvals to manage quality.
Monitor Resource Allocation
Your team is your most important resource, which is why we have many tools to help you keep them working at capacity. Nonhuman resources are managed on the Gantt chart. We let you set the availability of human resources, including PTO, vacation and global holidays for remote teams, which helps streamline assignments. Our color-coded workload chart helps you keep your team’s workload balanced so they stay productive. You can even manage labor costs with our secure timesheets that streamline payroll and provide a window into how far your team members have gotten in completing their tasks.
Related Strategy Content
Strategic planning is a big subject and we’ve only scratched the surface. If you’re interested in learning more, our website is a project management hub that’s rich in detailed articles about subjects that touch projects and industries that use them. We have weekly blogs, tutorial videos, and, of course, free project management templates. Here are some of the stories we’ve published on strategy.
- Strategic Project Management: Planning Strategic Projects
- Strategic Planning Models, Tools & Frameworks (With Templates)
- Strategic Plan Template for Word (Free Download)
- How to Create a Strategic Roadmap for Your Organization
- A Quick Guide to Strategic Initiatives
ProjectManager is online project and portfolio management software that connects teams in the office, out in the field and everywhere else. They can share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email and in-app notifications. Join teams at Avis, Nestle and Siemens who are using our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.