Business Planning and Strategy Using Spreadsheets

Business Planning and Strategy Using Spreadsheets

You might be among the many people who use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for business planning. You might wonder if a spreadsheet is the best option for working on business strategic initiatives.

While an Excel spreadsheet is a great tool for business tasks and financial planning, it may be limiting for strategic planning purposes. This article will present the pros and cons of using Excel for business planning and strategy using spreadsheets. You will also find out a better alternative for creating strategic plans spreadsheets.

Why do many people prefer Excel spreadsheets for business planning?

Many people prefer Excel spreadsheets for financial modeling and several business processes because they are highly customizable and easy to manipulate. It can easily integrate with other tools. Spreadsheets can also easily incorporate into almost all types of workflow.

Many prefer using spreadsheets because it is compatible with several pre-made Excel templates. If you are looking for spreadsheet templates for your business needs, check out the Business Management & Strategy Template from Simple Sheets.

Strategic Planning Process Using Excel

The use of Excel spreadsheets for the strategic planning process has its set of pros and cons. Understanding these can help you decide whether Excel is best for your business or not.


Excel spreadsheets can easily integrate into any work. It can be a powerful tool, especially for advanced Excel users. There are several useful functions that you can use in a spreadsheet. You can do data analysis, data visualization, and many more in spreadsheets.

Another advantage of using Excel is that the program is highly independent, and you don't need to rely on a software supplier. It can be used long-term. This software program can easily be shared with anyone on your team.

Excel is a familiar software that anyone knows how to navigate. You can create spreadsheets solely for the use of your company, from design to initial data encoding, formulas, data visualization, and data analysis.


It is no denying that Excel is a popular software for many businesses. However, Excel spreadsheets have their downside, which makes them the least choice by businesses for strategic planning.

The first downside of using spreadsheets for business and strategic planning is that you must do everything yourself. When you open a new spreadsheet file, you only get a blank sheet which you have to design, format, encode data, and set formulas into for it to be useful.

A spreadsheet is easily shareable with your teammates, but it doesn't allow collaboration with each other to enable strategic planning and strategic execution. Tracking the progress of each team member is difficult when working with a large spreadsheet, even with Google Sheets.

Spreadsheets developed in-house can easily be manipulated, which is prone to error. If you are working with several linked files, be sure to name the files properly to avoid losing the file in the process.

Visualizing strategy plans in different ways is challenging, making your data irrelevant short term. Using Excel for strategy planning depends on the formulas and functions you encode. You have to do all the brain work, which can be time-consuming.

Strategic Planning Software: An Alternative

Strategic planning includes strategic goals and portfolio management, strategic vision and strategy execution, and business management solutions. All these processes can be challenging to achieve with just spreadsheets.

A spreadsheet is no longer advisable for companies that manage large amounts of data. Hence, many businesses prefer to use strategic planning software instead. The use of software allows more flexibility and adaptation to constant changes in the market industry, which can be challenging to achieve with just spreadsheets.


The use of strategic planning software has several benefits, and first of which is its ability to show the status results of key milestones and own progress of strategic programs.

The software has a predefined structure that you can use to plug in important initiatives for strategic planning. Using the software, you can shift from annual planning to continuous planning. An annual plan becomes outdated and irrelevant when new data is added continuously.

Changes or updates are easily implemented and can be tracked or viewed company-wide. The use of software can save time, allowing your company to focus more on key factors of data collection and analysis. The software can quickly adapt to changes, whether disruptions or opportunities.


First of all, strategic planning software can be expensive. That is why small, and start-up businesses prefer using Excel spreadsheets.

Custom-made software runs the risk of failing to meet the expected needs of the business. In this case, businesses would have to adjust to the software, making work inefficient in the long run.

Often, you need a supplier to provide and maintain the software. You would need external help when problems arise with the software.

You have to wait for them to solve the problem before you can resume using the program. Plus, you may also encounter long-term problems if your external provider or supplier decides to stop their operations.

When to use Excel for Strategic Planning?

Excel spreadsheets are best used when you are in the early phase of the strategic planning process. The initial stages of strategic planning in spreadsheets allow you to focus independently on creating your spreadsheet template.

A spreadsheet is great when you want to encode data fast. You can conveniently share the spreadsheet file with your teammates before sharing it with your superiors or executives.

Strategic planning is a never-ending process. It constantly evolves; hence your business needs to adjust and adapt. The time will come when a spreadsheet may no longer be useful for strategic planning and strategic execution. Consider looking into other alternative tools such as a software tailor-fit to your needs and organizational goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the five steps of strategic planning processes?

The five steps of the strategic planning process are (1) defining the strategic vision, (2) assessing your current status, (3) establishing company objectives and priorities, (4) determining responsibilities, and (5) measuring and evaluating data results.

2. How does Microsoft Excel spreadsheet help with strategy and planning analysis?

Excel spreadsheet is helpful, especially in the early strategy and planning analysis phase. It is a great tool for developing and testing your strategic plans. Furthermore, it helps you understand data without the need to use complex formulas.

You are Ready for your Next Strategic Plan!

The goal of a good strategic plan allows the organization to react quickly and adapt to the ever-changing environment. Whether using Excel spreadsheets, strategic planning software, or a combination of both, the goal is for the process to work effectively for the company.

Always strive to have an up-to-date strategic plan when doing business planning and strategy using spreadsheets. Whether you are using professionally designed spreadsheet templates or hiring external suppliers to help you, remember all these tools have pros and cons.

Choose the one that best suits your company's needs. It is never too late to get serious with your strategic planning initiatives.

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