It’s a question we get a lot: “How much does strategic planning cost?”
The short answer: it depends.
The longer answer: there’s a lot of factors that impact the cost of strategic planning. Things like:
- Experience of the consultant (are they just starting out, or do they have 20 years under their belt?)
- What you mean by “strategic planning” (different orgs and consultants have different definitions)
- How involved the consultant is (are they doing everything? Or does your team need to carry some of the weight?)
- The complexity of your org and the process (more stakeholders = more time = more money)
This is why you don’t see prices on websites for consulting firms. It’s complicated. However, we will do our best to explain the variables.
Consultants are essentially selling their time. It’s a finite resource, so the more time a project takes, the higher the cost. We want to shine a light on the process so you can head into your next round of strategic planning better informed.
The Price Range for Strategic Planning
We have developed dozens of plans with organizations ranging in size from $1 million to $800 mil in annual revenue. We have also seen plenty of competitive proposals from our peers. The range you can expect to pay is between $20,000 and $115,000.
There are some exceptions on either end of this scale, but most orgs will fit in this range.
What Do YOU Mean by “Strategic Planning”?
When you hire a consultant for strategic planning, there’s two types of deliverables: a process and a set of outputs.
Get clear on what you expect for each of these, and what the consultant is offering.
Here are a few common examples of outputs that result from a strategic planning engagement:
- Lean Identity and Vision: 3- to 4-page summary of your Identity and Vision
- Scorecard: A tool that breaks your big goals down into smaller measurable ones
- Strategic Plan: A lengthy report that describes the discovery process and adds narrative to each strategic objective. This could include professional design with images, graphs and more.
In terms of process, do you need to update your Mission, Values, Beliefs, etc., as part of the engagement? We recommend that orgs who are about to start a strategic planning process, make sure they are clear and aligned on their identity.
Whether it’s one or several sessions, we always spend time strengthening identity before jumping into strategic visioning. Even if the org has a clear Identity, it’s important to begin the strategic visioning process with this Identity top of mind.
Factors that Impact Cost
Several factors about your org – how it functions, the size, the structure – will impact cost. Other factors about the consultant – size of their business, experience, etc. – will impact cost.
How your org impacts the cost:
- Size of organization and number of stakeholders: In general, the more stakeholders, the more expensive. What voices need to be included? Does the board need to be involved? Larger organizations will likely include more voices increasing the amount of time to harvest input and review the results.
- Structure of the organization: The complexity of the structure and governance model of an org can have a significant impact on cost. For example, if an organization exists as a coordinating, backbone entity, they will need to include input from all their members. Similarly, a government or quasi-governmental org may also need to include a wide variety of voices from their community(ies). A stand-alone nonprofit or entrepreneurial org will have fewer voices to include and be able to move more quickly.
- Speed of decision making: The longer it takes the core planning team to agree to key elements of the plan, the more expensive the project can become. If your team struggles to align when it comes time to make important decisions, you may put the timeline of the engagement at risk.
- Sign-off process: Similar to speed of decision making, not having a clear process to approve each key deliverable in the project can also cause delays. We’ve seen teams re-open key parts of their Identity and strategic plan that have already been approved because a single dissenting voice arises further down the line. These teams can go in circles, struggling to find momentum and slowing down the pace of the project.
How the consultant impacts the cost:
- Solo consultant vs. consulting group: Independent consultants are usually less expensive than a group. While there are certainly great independent consultants, the value in working with a group includes consistency and redundancy, greater diversity of experience, and a larger resource pool and capabilities to pull in as needed.
- Consultant experience: A big reason to hire a consultant in the first place is specialized expertise. There is incredible value in working with a group that has seen all the potential issues that can occur during a planning process and help guide you back on course.
- Implementation Training: Some consulting engagements end when the plan is complete. Others offer additional training on how to implement and monitor progress in the plan. This includes translating the plan to a scorecard format that allows for monitoring and progress tracking. Some consultants offer one to four quarters of additional implementation support in which they help their clients implement the tools and systems needed to successfully achieve their vision.
Remember: more time = more cost. And more complexity = more time (and thus, more cost).
What to Expect
Here’s some general price ranges you’ll see for strategic planning projects:
- Lean 3- to 4-page Identity and Strategic Objectives: $20,000-$40,0000
- Lean Plan + Scorecard: $30,000-$55,000
- Lean Plan + Scorecard + professionally designed report: $45,000-$80,000
- Implementation Training: $12,000-$25,000 per quarter
As you consider your budget, remember the importance of this process and what it will yield. The clarified Identity and new 3- to 5-year vision that results will guide the direction and fortify the health of the organization. We often see teams that will spend far more on things that return far less results. This is an area that is too important not to invest in.
Curious about how we approach strategic planning? Download our Compass Playbook to learn more about our process.
Thinking about developing your next strategic plan with MMG? We’d love to chat.