Operations Plan Template

Outline the day-to-day operations of your business with your free and easy-to-download operations plan template.

Operations Plan Template

August 26, 2021

Putting together a business plan is essential for outlining your strategy and vision, especially if you're starting a new company. It includes everything you need to consider, such as your marketing strategy, your business objectives and the resources you need.

Even once you've launched your startup and you're confident you have a full understanding of what it takes to run your business effectively, it's likely you'll have to refer back to it at some stage to refresh your focus and ensure you’re on track to achieving everything you intend to. You'll also need to hang onto it so you can present it to other people, from human resources members to investors and stakeholders, to give them confidence and reassurance that you know exactly what you’re doing.

If you've ever started up a business, you’ll already know that it's impossible to successfully launch a new company without drawing up a business plan first. So you might be wondering why we're telling you all this.

It’s because many business owners overlook the importance of having an operations plan to go with it. Although this can be integrated into your main business plan, a separate and more detailed document will be even more beneficial in clearly defining your roadmap to success, ensuring you’re on track to accomplish your business targets.

How do you write an operations plan?

While a business plan outlines a company’s overall goals and long-term strategies, an operations plan goes into more detail on the business's daily operations, including things like the role of each individual staff member, your key metrics and any potential risks.

A well-written operations plan will ensure that all departments are working in harmony, with every manager and employee understanding their responsibilities and having the tools and knowledge to achieve their goals within a specific time period.

Writing an operations plan can be time-consuming if you don’t know what to include, so we’ve put together this guide, along with an operational plan template you can download for free.

What is an operations plan?

As mentioned above, it’s not enough to only have a business plan. An operations plan is based on your business plan but it goes into much more detail about the day-to-day operations of your company.

Its purpose is to define how all the various elements of your business will come together to achieve the short-term goals that support your overall objectives.

Like a business plan, it describes your business vision and mission, but also outlines how all of your different departments will operate and interact with each other over the course of the next year, defining:

  • Exactly what needs to be done and who’s in charge of doing it
  • A realistic timeline, giving deadlines for when certain tasks need to be completed
  • The resources that will be allocated in order to get a particular job done
  • How much it will cost to get these tasks done
  • How you plan to overcome any potential risks

Why do I need an operations plan?

It’s easy to get bogged down in everyday tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture. An operations plan can remind you of all the smaller things you need to do to ensure you’re on the right track when it comes to achieving your company’s end goal.

Your operations plan can also be used to assess the performance of your team members. A comprehensive plan will outline exactly what’s expected of each member of staff and explain how they should go about meeting these expectations, as well as making them aware of how achieving their individual goals is essential for the success of the business as a whole. By eliminating confusion about what their roles and responsibilities are, you can maximise productivity and be confident that fewer resources are being wasted.

Sharing the entire plan with your staff ensures that everyone is aligned when it comes to your mission, strategic goals, risks, staffing needs, financial projections and how well the business is performing.

Your operations plan is also good for identifying any weak spots in your business's action plan. If you catch them quickly, you can fix them before they do too much damage to your overall strategy. If, for example, there are some areas that are losing revenue, you can start putting some of the necessary changes in place to rectify the problem.

What’s included in an operations plan?

Your operations plan will show the reader two things:

  1. What you’ve done so far to get your business off the ground
  2. That you fully understand the processes involved in making your business a success

Every operations plan will vary, but here’s an idea of some of the things you should include:

  • Cover page and table of contents – The title of the document, your company name and logo. A quick glance over your contents table will prove to your readers that you haven’t left out anything important.
  • Executive summary – A general overview of the operations plan.
  • Strategic plan context – Your company mission and vision for the future.
  • Goals and objectives – What the company wants to achieve over the next year and the strategic goals that will help you get there. Include a timeframe for each goal to help your staff focus and be better equipped to manage their time effectively.
  • The production process – Explanation of how you’re going to achieve your goals, listing all the resources you need. This section should include your business address, the permits or licenses you’ve got to have, your hours of operation, staffing requirements, the equipment and materials you use, who your suppliers are and any quality control measures you have in place.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) – A list of at least five ways in which you can measure how well your business is performing.
  • Financial summary – All the financial details of your business, such as breakdowns, analyses and projections.
  • Potential risks – Any potential problems that might occur, with a plan in place on how to deal with them.
  • Appendix – Documents like floor plans of your office space, copies of your lease or rental agreement, images of the materials you use and any licenses or permits.
  • Contact details – Information for the person who wrote the operations plan and website address for your business.

For a more detailed description of what to include in your operations plan, you can download our free template.

Tips on how to write an effective operations plan

Remember the big picture

When launching a new company, you should always start by writing your business plan. Once you have your mission and main objectives in place, you’ll be able to elaborate on them to create your operations plan – with the big picture at the forefront of your mind.

If, when doing your operational planning, it isn’t clear how something will help you to achieve the objectives in your business plan, you shouldn’t include it.

Clearly define your goals and objectives

Breaking down your main objectives into smaller goals and targets is key to writing an effective operations plan. The clearer you are about what these are, the easier they will be for you and your employees to follow. It might help to think about what your overall aim is for the year. Then you can come up with all the different ways that will help you to achieve this.

You should make sure all of your goals, objectives and targets are measurable, so you can keep track of progress.

Keep your employees happy

Before you’ve even hired anyone, it’s advisable to do some research on what the going rate of pay is for the position you’re advertising. While you don’t want to stretch your budget, the amount you pay your employees will determine the level of talent you can hire. If, for example, you're looking for a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, you'll want to make sure you can offer them a competitive salary.

When pulling your operations plan together, it's important to be mindful of how you're going to retain your employees too. Rewarding top performers will do wonders for staff morale. By giving them incentives like gift cards and promotions, they’re more likely to work harder, so achieving your goals is much more doable.

With your operating hours, it’s important to strike the right balance between a fair work schedule for your employees, as well as the time schedule that’s necessary to fulfil your business needs.

Summary

An operations plan is an extension of your business plan. It goes into more detail on the everyday running of your company so you can ensure your business stays on track when it coms to achieving your overall targets.

For help writing a comprehensive operations plan for your company, you can use our free template by clicking on the 'Download' button at the top of this page.

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Daniel Hogan

Daniel is a Deloitte-trained, fully qualified Chartered Accountant with experience in the finance software space. It was during his tenure managing a finance system in the UK that he grew dissatisfied with the lack of synergy and automation in the space, compelling him to co-found Ember.