Decision Tree Template

Decision Tree Template Basics

A decision tree template  gives the ability to see options and estimated outcomes before decisions are made. Such template can be used by almost any type of organization, to make simple or complex decisions, on a qualitative or quantitative basis. These diagrams might be used to establish a pricing policy, decide the size of a new plant, determine which research projects to pursue, or decide which proposal to accept.

This method is helpful in planning a project or making a series of related decisions. It is used to look ahead at the various possible outcomes and map the specific decisions needed and their impact on outcomes. It relies heavily on management judgment, providing structure to the normal judgmental decision-making process. The method is easily used and, once mastered, is a useful back-of-the-envelope technique. It is also useful in presenting a project or problem to a group in a structured manner to get feedback on a decision or the assumptions on which the decision is based.

Decision Tree Template Creation

Follow these four steps when designing a decision tree.

1. Identify all of the feasible alternatives—the different decision options available to you. Also identify the different situations that might prevail after the decision, focusing on a variable (or several) of relevance to the ultimate outcome of your decision.

Example: You must decide how much to spend on a new product launch. The marketing department presents three alternatives: low, medium, and high advertising and sales support. These are your feasible alternatives. You see two likely situations after introducing the product: (1) no competition and high demand or (2) a similar product introduction by a competitor and lower demand for your new product.

2. Draw a decision tree illustrating the decision alternatives and the situations.

Decision Tree Template Example 1

Decision Tree Template

3. To calculate the possible financial returns from each combination of decisions and situations, enter the costs of each decision on the diagram (negative numbers) along with the incomes (positive numbers) from each situation and total them to calculate the payoffs. Write the payoffs (outcomes) at the right side of the diagram.

Decision Tree Template Example 2

Decision Tree Template

Use decision tree templates to:

  • Identify the options and potential outcomes of a decision or series of related decisions.
  • Assign probabilities to events and calculate the likely returns from alternative decisions.
  • Structure the decision task to identify where and how research should be used.

Fill in the Decision Tree Template with your own data and thoughts!

SWOT Template

SWOT Template Basics

SWOT template: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to traits like flexibility, a special expertise or lack thereof, and other internal factors that you have some control over. On the other hand, opportunities and threats are environmental factors like the price of oil, changes in consumer preferences, rising interest rates, and other external events that are much more difficult, or even impossible, to control (but that clearly affect your business).

SWOT Template Assessment Matrix

SWOT template assesstment

SWOT TEMPLATE: STRENGTHS

Strengths, also known as core competencies, are areas where your or your organization stands out from others in your industry. These can include technology (special code or patents that only you possess), marketing/sales savvy, personnel, experience, or cost advantages.

When you’re trying to figure out what your strengths are, some questions you might want to ask yourself include the following. To gain a realistic picture of your strengths, it’s also important that you ask these questions of your employees, customers, business partners, and industry experts:

  • What unique advantages does my company have in the marketplace or industry?
  • What does my company do very well?
  • What does my company do that surpasses our competitors?
  •  Is there access to resources or distribution channels or technology that is unique to my company?
  • How do individuals within the organization contribute to our success?
  • What expertise or unique experience do I or my employees have that will have a positive impact upon our business growth?
  • What other strengths does my company have that provide it with a unique advantage in the market?

The strengths that you and your company have are relative to the entire industry. Therefore, if all of your competitors have the same cost position or access to the same distribution channels, then you cannot consider that a strength; it simply becomes a minimum requirement. A good example of this is in the banking industry, where exceptional service is critical to keeping customers (especially as banks find it harder to compete on interest rates alone). Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to communicate with your clients is a nice-to-have asset, but it is not necessarily something that would be considered a strength, since it has become a minimum requirement rather than an exception for most banks. However, if a bank does something different with the software that allows it to better serve its customers, then the use of this specialized program is turned into a strength or core competency.

Write down 3 most important strenghs to your SWOT template.

SWOT TEMPLATE:WEAKNESSES

Obviously weaknesses are areas in which your company fails to excel or lacks expertise altogether. Therefore, not possessing some of the qualities noted in the strength category can be considered weaknesses if your major competitors have these abilities. But if your competitors don’t have these skills either (perhaps everybody’s poor at managing changing customer demand), then this may not be a mortal weakness—yet. Important questions to ask yourself to determine your weaknesses include Relative to our competitors, what areas are we simply not proficient at?

  • Do we lack experience in a vital area such as sales, or do we lack the ability to develop new products that will contribute to our growth?
  • Do we have a shortage of people with the right experience, skills, or expertise?
  • How much knowledge do we possess about certain markets or industry sectors that are relevant to our business?
  • Do we lack technical skills or need improvements in our ability to operate smoothly?
  • Are we experiencing production capacity problems because our systems are not working at peak performance?
  • Are our manufacturing/production costs too high, yet we are not able to lower them in the near future?
  • What other areas need improvement?

It’s far easier to admit to your strengths, but a candid appraisal of your weaknesses is important. If you have colleagues or friends whom you trust, ask them if they think your assessment is accurate. If you have employees, their input is vital, too. If you personally are not good at selling, don’t delude yourself into believing that you can overcome this simply by being passionately committed to your business. Talking to others may help you see that your competition might be just as passionate—and have a talented sales force as well. However, if everybody in the industry is weak in a certain area (such as limited distribution channels), you may see that this may not be a major weakness yet, since it puts you on a level playing field with your competitors. Once you have clearly defined your areas of weakness, then you will be in a better position to determine if they can be turned into strengths.

Write down 3 most important weaknesses to your SWOT template.

SWOT TEMPLATE:OPPORTUNITIES

It’s always fun to daydream about business opportunities—a new location, a possible new product line, an expansion through acquisition, or discovering an underserved market.

Opportunities are external factors in the marketplace that you do not control, yet that present you with the ability to grow your business if you position yourself correctly. Opportunities can include strong demand for certain products, lack of satisfaction with available product options, and/or limited competition. Here are some questions to help you identify opportunities in your market:

  • Is there strong customer demand in the market for our products or services and the value that we provide to our customers?
  • Is there a lack of satisfaction with the products that are currently offered or available?
  • Is our competition limited or weak in certain areas that we have not yet addressed or attacked with full effort?
  • Is there a lack of competitors or substitute products or services that currently satisfy customers’ needs?
  • Are there readily available and/or easily accessed distribution channels (e.g., the Internet or the opening of a new trade channel) that we
  • can take advantage of?
  • Are there opportunities to easily enter a new or related market?
  • What other opportunities are there in the market that will help me launch my business?
  • Are switching costs (perceived or real) low?

Write down 3 most important opportunities to your SWOT template.

 SWOT TEMPLATE:THREATS

By threats, I mean conditions in the marketplace that make entry or growth less desirable, more difficult, or even risky, including competitors, regulation, tax law changes, new technologies, cheaper overseas labor, and litigation. Threats include obstacles that stand in the way of your company’s achieving success because you lack control over them. An example of a threat that is being faced by many businesses today is the movement of production facilities to low-cost countries like India and China. If your competitors now begin to benefit from significantly lower production costs, this could have a major impact on your organization, your pricing scenario, and the industry as a whole. To identify threats to your business, begin by asking yourself questions like these:

  • Do barriers to entry, such as limited distribution channels or the closure of certain channels for importing or exporting products, affect my business?
  • How much competition is there in the market?
  • Are there a lot of substitute products, making it difficult for me to differentiate my value?
  • Is my company affected by an increase in the price of supplies or lack of availability of certain supplies required to develop or deliver my product?
  • Does inertia affect my business (i.e., people are “happy enough” with the present solution to their problem)?
  • What regulations affect my business, now and in the future?
  • Have there been any changes in customers’ interest in my product or service?

Write down 3 most important threats to your SWOT template.

Fill in the SWOT template matrix with your own data and thoughts!

Strategic Planning Template

Strategic Planning Template Basics

This strategic planning method does not produce any prescriptions. It collects and organizes information for use in decision making but does not have any specific formulas or models of the decision process. For those who want to make their own strategic decisions, this method provides a good vehicle for utilizing time and expertise in a helpful but nonintrusive manner. Strategic planning template  also can be adapted to individual decision making, as the discipline it provides is valuable

Strategic Planning Template Chart

This strategic planning process template is a a 9-step strategic planning process. This process starts with  a mission for the company (step 1); next –  situation analysis (step 2), and so on down the pyramid, until the process is complete.

At the bottom of the pyramid, rolling six-month marketing plans (step 9) form the base of the pyramid. These six-month forecasts flow from the budget (step 8); the budget, in turn, flows from the strategic plan (step 7). The first year of the three-year strategic plan becomes the budget, and the rolling forecast confirms that the budget will be achieved.

Strategic Planning Template Pyramid

Strategic Planning Template

Other companies have different processes. An alternative approach is to develop a rolling six-quarter (18-month) forecast. A continuous forecast process can make a formal budgeting process unnecessary—one of the forecasts simply becomes the budget for the upcoming year. Other organizations forgo a continuous forecasting process altogether, relying instead on pulling together a revised outlook on an exception basis. Whatever the strategic planning process, it can be depicted in a pyramid.

Some points explained:

1. Mission. Your mission is a definition of what business you are in today. What is your single-sentence mission statement?

2. Situation Analysis. Processes, restrictions, resources, etc.

3. Future Environment. Vision, forecasts, intent, milestones.

4. Business objectives. Goals, strategies, tactics, tasks.

Fill in the strategic planning template pyramid with your own data and thoughts!

Marketing Strategy Template

Marketing Strategy Template Basics

1.Distinguishing Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Real stumbling block to effective marketing is not knowing the difference between these terms. Let’s review what they mean:

A strategy is a broad plan derived from environmental analysis that is designed to achieve a company’s objectives.

A tactic is one of many actions used to execute the strategy. The distinction is important. If we have an existing product and we want to sell it  that is a tactic. If we want to know if buyers of our kinds of products (e.g., business planning software) are regular internet users and, if so, how they use internet, we are on the road to developing a strategy. We could give value to our community by having reviews of new tools, tips on using tools and links to sites that sell software we don’t make.

At its heart, a marketing strategy template  answers the question: Why should our customers buy our product (or service) and not our competitors’? The strategy will later form the heart of your marketing plan for that offering.

 2.Setting Marketing Strategy Goals

Strategy happens on several different levels within an organization. In big companies, people create strategy at:

  • the corporate level
  • the strategic business unit level
  • the product level

In many smaller companies, strategy creation may take place on all three levels simultaneously. In fact, a product manager developing a market strategy at a small firm might not only ask, “How should we market this product?” but also “Should we be offering this product at all?”

In creating a marketing strategy for a product, your main goals are:

1. to answer the question: “What’s our product’s competitive advantage?” Or, from the customer’s perspective, “What need would this product or service fulfill more effectively than any other similar offering?”

2. to shape your marketing strategy to ensure that the product does fulfill the customer’s expectations, needs, and desire.

To achieve these goals, you should have the following information:

  • your target market’s size and typical behavior (its demographic characteristics)
  • the primary benefit of the proposed product in the consumers’ minds

In addition, you will need to estimate the sales, market share, and profits that the product could generate in its first few years on the market plus establish the planned price, distribution strategy (how you’ll get the product to customers), and marketing budget for the first year, project the product’s long-run sales and profits.

Marketing Strategy Template Matrix

A firm’s context, or position in its market, has significant implications for strategy, and the marketing strategy matrix is a prescriptive template that links marketing strategy to market context. The matrix can be used to identify these implications and make sure the strategy reflects them.

You can use this tool for generating strategy or for reviewing strategies proposed by staff or operational managers. The prescriptions of the matrix are based on a compilation of many studies of marketing strategy, and while not 100 percent valid in every situation, they can be expected to be valid in most circumstances. Deviations from the prescriptions of the matrix should be justified by an explanation of how the situation differs from the norm.

Marketing Strategy Template Matrix Example

Marketing Strategy Template

Here are the instructions to follow in order to create the marketing strategy temlate matrix.

Identify the context by delineating possible strategic situations.We have chosen to illustrate five strategic situations on our  marketing strategy template.

1. Market development. Early entry or technical leadership makes a company a pioneer in its market.

2. Market domination. The leader in an established market. Holds an advantageous and influential position.

3. Differentiated advantage. A firm (not necessarily the leader) has a sustainable advantage such as low cost or patent protection.

4. Market selectivity. Characterized by segmented buyer wants and many small firms addressing these wants. Local service businesses such as restaurants are good examples (segmented based on price, menu, and location).

5. No advantage. The other situations all imply a strategic advantage or at least the potential to create one. Sometimes there is no immediate or obvious basis for creating an advantage.

List generic strategy options in the marketing strategy template matrix.

1. New product development

2. Segmentation and targeted marketing

3. Product positioning through research and marketing

4. Sales and marketing productivity improvement

5. Acquisition or merger

6. Harvest or divest

Use the marketing strategy template matrix to:

  •  Identify feasible strategic options given a specific market context
  • Evaluate marketing plans and proposals to see if their underlying strategies are realistic given the marketing situation

As a recap, here are the procedures to follow when using the marketing strategy template matrix.

  • Select one of the five generic strategic situations that best describes the marketing context for your business and product.
  • Use the matrix to identify applicable strategy options or to see whether a strategy is appropriate for the given situation.

Fill in the marketing strategy template matrix with your own data and thoughts at the intersections of each strategic situation and strategy option.

Templates For Life

Welcome to Templates For Life!

This site is a good source of different helpful templates for your business and life. 

Each post in  Templates for Life  provides information about a different business task or procedure and discusses the best templates, charts and graphs to apply to that situation

You will find examples that you may already use in your business activities on a daily basis. But you will also find tools that you have never used or that you might not have considered using in that particular context.

How to use Templates for Life

You can dip into this site to find particular topics and to make use of the information without necessarily reviewing everything that came before. It will help make the difficult, often impossible job of analyzing and presenting complex ideas and concepts to clients and associates fast, simple, thorough, and inexpensive.

Ultimately, the value of business and life templates lies as much in the process of creating the chart as in the consumption of its product. Charting stimulates the development of a deeper understanding of a business and its environment, and it forces the formulation and evaluation of alternatives that would not otherwise be considered. It unleashes large amounts of creativity that are so often suppressed by routine and the need to respond to crises.

This site is not for studying “everything.” Delineating a clear direction is a prerequisite for success. Knowing when to use the available templates is also a key to success, and there is no substitute for the hard work of selecting and using these tools to craft solutions tailored to your company’s unique context and needs. We will tear ourselves to pieces, trying to go in 100 different directions at the same time, unless we find out what we want most and make that the goal of our supreme effort. Demonstrating leadership requires the willingness to assess situations, think through the available options, decide on the tools to be used and how to adapt them as needed, and then accept accountability for the decisions made and the results achieved.