Shifting from Spreadsheet-Based Strategies to Specialized Strategic Planning Software

When strategy reaches a certain level of complexity, it’s no longer sustainable to manage it with spreadsheet and presentation software.

6 perspectives of change agenda for strategy automation

In this tutorial, we’ll outline a change agenda for strategy automation.

  • We will use six different change perspectives to analyze the past state – the ad-hoc approach to strategy and
  • We will formulate a future state where strategy is automated with specialized strategic planning software

Change perspectives:

Perspective 1. Performance Indicators

Spreadsheets work well on a prototype stage, but maintaining such scorecards becomes more challenging as the scale and complexity of the strategy grow.

  • A minor error in a formula can lead to broken calculations.
  • Because of maintenance difficulties, typical spreadsheet-based strategies are limited to 2-3 levels of goals.

In contrast, specialized software makes strategic planning more organized out of the box:

  • Users can add new indicators without the risk of breaking the scorecard, and all the calculations are managed by the tool.
  • Specialized software supports limitless strategy decomposition.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 1 - Performance Indicators

Furthermore, general-purpose software lacks awareness of the type of data you are managing.

In contrast, specialized software understands the process and ensures data consistency:

  • It tracks KPIs according to defined update intervals.
  • It manages the weights and normalizes data to make indicators comparable.
  • It knows how to track the impact of both leading and lagging indicators.
  • It calculates aggregated data based on indicator grouping and inheritance settings.

BSC Designer - strategic planning software

An example of the KPIs scorecard in BSC Designer. Source: View Digital Transformation Strategy online in BSC Designer Digital Transformation Strategy.

Perspective 2. Strategy maps

Strategy maps are another pain point…

A map diagram created in presentation software is a static image that is difficult to update with new insights and lacks up-to-date data. For this reason, it contributes little value to strategy discussions or presentations.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 2 - Strategy Maps

In contrast, specialized software like BSC Designer uses the data from your scorecard to automatically generate a strategy map:

  • There is no need for manual drawing,
  • It is always up-to-date.
  • It shows a detailed image of the strategy, including goals, risks, indicators, and initiatives.

Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map Example

An example of the strategy map in BSC Designer. Source: View Balanced Scorecard for HR. online in BSC Designer Balanced Scorecard for HR..

This changes the role of strategy map:

  • It is used more actively for strategy discussions and presentations.
  • Supporting details are just few clicks away, and
  • Team members can add their insights directly to the strategy map during brainstorming sessions.

Perspective 3. Business Frameworks and Templates

In strategic planning, we combine various business tools to gain a detailed picture of the operating environment.

For instance, we use Five Forces analysis to better understand the competitive landscape, PESTEL for assessing external factors, or Ansoff Matrix for planning growth strategies.

It’s easy to find some visually appealing templates for these business frameworks on the Internet. The problem is that they remain disconnected from each other and the overall strategy.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 3 - Templates and Frameworks

For effective strategy execution, the business framework and strategy scorecards should be available in the shared strategy workspace.

Comparison of strategic planning tools and frameworks by their role in strategic planning process and decomposition principle.

With BSC Designer, you have access to the most popular business tools right within the software.

  • Your team can organize these templates in their strategy workspace and align the insights generated by the frameworks directly with strategy.
  • We also have templates for some popular strategy and functional scorecards, such as cybersecurity, supply chain, talent management that will save you time when focusing on new challenges.

Perspective 4. Strategic alignment

Strategic alignment is probably the most important challenge for spreadsheets software.

It is solved on a low level when we align goals with KPIs and initiatives, but when it comes to aligning strategy scorecards, functional scorecards, insights from the frameworks, scenarios, alternative growth strategies… the general purpose tools fail.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 4- Strategic Alignment

With BSC Designer, alignment is straightforward…

  • On a low level, the goals, KPIs, risks, and initiatives are aligned by design inside the scorecard.
  • On a high level, the scorecards can be aligned between each other by perspectives, normalized goals, or simply by a shared context.

Cascading Method 1: Align Strategy Scorecards by Perspectives

Altogether, those strategy and functional scorecards create a single source of truth regarding strategy.

Perspective 5. Reporting

Automatic reporting is another reason why companies are migrating to specialized strategic planning software.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 5 - Reporting

The specialized software provides a different paradigm for reporting.

  • Firstly, the idea of reporting changes with the use of the tool. For many cases, there is no need to generate PDFs at all. Instead, one can simply share a link to the required data.
  • Secondly, if there is a need for a report, it can be generated automatically by the software with the user-defined reporting profile.
  • Thirdly, the software can send out those reports to the key stakeholders on schedule.

Perspective 6. Teamwork

Finally, lack of accountability is another problem for general-purpose software.

For example, there is no way to track who introduced the changes and why they were made.

Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 6 - Teamwork

The specialized strategic planning tool is better equipped for strategy-related teamwork.

  • There is an audit trail adapted for strategy workflow.
  • Administrators can grant “modify” or “view” access for a group of scorecards, individual scorecards, or even specific indicators.
  • The owners of the goals, KPIs, and initiatives receive automatic notifications.
  • Targets and historical data can be locked for editing, and
  • All the new data may be passed through the approval workflow.


6 perspectives of change agenda for strategy automation
Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 1 - Performance Indicators
Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 2 - Strategy Maps
Change agenda of strategy automation - Perspective 3 - Templates and Frameworks

Video Tutorial

Strategy Automation: 6 Perspectives of Change Agenda


As you can see, transitioning to specialized strategic planning software, such as BSC Designer, is a key success factor in effective strategy management.

Now, we invite you to sign-up with a free BSC Designer plan and put discussed ideas into practice. Feel free to contact our customer support team with any questions.

Cite as: BSC Designer, "Shifting from Spreadsheet-Based Strategies to Specialized Strategic Planning Software," BSC Designer, October 12, 2023,