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Posted on June 7, 2017
Updated on October 13, 2021
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Operational Plan Template

This is a quick and easy template for rapid business planning, especially for new business development, strategic planning, sales plans and market-led business planning. 

See the main section on business planning for more detailed business planning templates, tools, examples and processes.

This planning report structure can also be adapted for operational and departmental planning of all sorts - the same principles apply. We are all customers and suppliers in one way or another.

This is a simple quick and easy document presentation structure which is effective for most types of business plans and planning reports.

The example is based on a one-time real outline for a real strategic business initiative which required a business plan proposal.

This business plan structure is by its nature pragmatic, i.e., it's 'fit for purpose' and concise. Given a concise report structure, always remember to consider the ethical and philosophical issues, and refer to them where appropriate in the planning document. 

A business plan or report is necessarily focused on profit and financial effectiveness (without which, generally, nothing much else can happen) nevertheless, ethics and wider issues of corporate responsibility will provide a fundamental platform and context, particularly in this age of awareness and transparency concerning corporate behaviour.

Business Plan Structure

  • Title page: Title or heading of the plan and brief description if required, author, date, company/organisation if applicable, details of circulation and confidentiality.
  • Contents page: A list of contents (basically the sections listed here, starting with the Introduction page, and listing the main body sections in the template below) showing page numbers, plus a list of appendices or addendums (added reference material at the back of the document). The contents page must enable the reader to find what they need and navigate the document easily, and to enable a presenter or questioner to refer the audience to particular items and page numbers when reviewing or querying.
  • Introduction page: Introduction and purpose of the plan, terms of reference if applicable (usually for formal and large plans or projects).
  • Main body of plan headings as required: See template below.
  • Appendices: Diagrams, statistics, examples, examples, spreadsheets, and other reference material underpinning and supporting the business plan's recommendations.


Here is a quick easy template example for a business plan or other operational planning report or proposal.

It is a real example based on the initial outline for a new business initiative proposition, which required a basic business plan document, as typically arises in businesses of all sorts.

Business plans should not be long wordy documents. They should be concise, easy to understand, and deal with the main issues simply, with relevant supporting detail, facts and figures.

The most important aspect of most business plans is the actions and/or recommendations, and the main purpose is generally to achieve (within ethical considerations) the maximum return on investment (or, in the case of public services and not-for-profit organisations, the best use of investment and resources).

Always consider issues of philosophy and corporate ethics as well, and where appropriate refer to the organisation's position and/or aims regarding ethics, social responsibility, etc. These are not mechanisms within planning, but are critical reference points, particularly in modern times when risks of scandal and corporate negligence carry such big implications.

For non-profit and public services organisations, the word 'business' would commonly be substituted by 'service' or a similarly suitable alternative. These planning principles apply to most types of organisations because virtually any organised activity has a 'market', 'customers', and 'competitors'.

  1. Executive Summary - concise summary of everything that follows below - a clear irresistible business case no more than a page long - normally best to write this last. Strong emphasis on competitive advantage (strategy and proposition USP's - unique selling points), sales values, margins, timescale and return on investment.
  2. The Market Opportunity (or situation/background/need) - (subheadings as appropriate, suggestions in bold here - also where relevant refer to diagrams/maps which you should append) - explain and define the market - end user sector(s) and segment(s) descriptions. Outline the strategic business drivers within sector and segments, purchasing mechanisms, processes, restrictions, growth, legislation, seasonality - what are the factors that determine customers' priorities and needs, and what they are. Explain historical/existing solutions and their weaknesses/deficiencies. Show and explain the routes to market, strategic gatekeepers/influencers, relationships. Outline the recommended products/services and proposition(s) and show the USP's. Indicate typical/average contract sales values and margins achievable. Quantify the market potential and realiseable market share - by segment if necessary, size, numbers, values, (contracts, locations, people/users, etc, whatever enables business scale to be explained) - for the stated proposition(s). Refer to case studies examples if any exist (and append them). Refer to competition real or potential, threats, and your advantages over the competition (in terms of proposition, delivery, and strategy/routes/partnerships). It's logical and appropriate to refer to ethics and CSR (corporate social responsibility) in this section.
  3. Strategic Action Plan - sub-headings as appropriate - actions with outputs, necessary to realise market share/sales stated above. Strong emphasis on leveraging and working with sales organisation - you can be quite specific here. Timescales, costs, resources where known and applicable. Much of this is in your head already - it all just needs sorting, prioritising and writing down so it forms a cohesive logical series of actions with measurable outputs and values. Mostly these actions will be your own, supported by others in sales dept, probably some marketing. Show costs and returns and margins over time. Show total return for this current trading year and it's also helpful to indicate same for following year. This could be supported with a spreadsheet.
  4. Recommendations - action points/authorisation/budgets/product or service development, resources required, etc., required to make it happen. This will depend on extent of higher authority/executive support required - ideally as little as possible.

See the main section on business planning for more detailed business planning templates, tools, examples and processes.

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