10 recommendations for your charity's business plan from a professional economist

23 May 2017

Professional economist Julian Laite volunteered with charity HighGround. The charity needed support on developing its business plan. You can read the summary of Julian's project with HighGround here.

Here are Julian's key recommendations and considerations for charities in the process of developing their business plan:

  1. Corporate planning is the spine of an organisation’s activities, to which all other processes and activities must relate.
  2. The first steps in corporate planning are that an organization must identify what its core business is, what it wants to achieve, and when it wants to achieve it.
  3. All staff need to be clear about the organisation’s core business and its objectives, and if possible be involved in identifying these.
  4. The process of corporate planning, involving discussion and clarification of aims, processes, performance and impact, is as important as the Business Plan that emerges.
  5. Corporate planning – and the Business Plan – need to be based on a coherent and comprehensive approach that includes an organisation’s aims, processes, finance and performance.
  6. Identifying the outputs and impact of an organization is difficult.  Staff will focus first on inputs, particularly the activities they undertake.  Time, effort and a methodology are needed both to identify outputs and impact, and secure widespread agreement to them.
  7. During the planning process staff will focus on “doing things right”, rather than “doing the right things”.
  8. The costings in the Business Plan should include the costs of activities and sets of activities e.g. how much did it cost to achieve a particular impact, as well as the costs of items e.g. salaries.
  9. The indicators in the Plan should be clear, and related to impacts, and the targets should be achievable.
  10. Implementing the Business Plan, which will include different ways of working, needs to be based on a Change Management Plan.

About Julian Laite

Dr Julian Laite is an independent consultant with 25 years’ experience of undertaking public sector reform assignments in the UK and abroad. He specialises in organizational development, corporate planning, finance, and performance monitoring and evaluation.

After graduating in Economics from Cambridge University, Julian obtained a PhD from Manchester University on international development. He became a Senior Lecturer at Manchester University, and then joined the FCO as Assistant Director at Wilton Park Conference Centre.  From the FCO, Julian became a senior official at HM Treasury. His posts included responsibility for monitoring local authority capital finance; monitoring the expenditure of the Department of Education and Science, including schools’ funding; overseeing the establishment of the Department of National Heritage; co-ordinating one of the Government’s first Private Finance packages; and progressing the establishment of several executive agencies.

In 1994 Julian became a Managing Consultant in the International Division at KPMG/Atos Consulting, where he led and managed large international public sector reform projects. In 2003 he was appointed Partner for International Development at PA Consulting, where he was a member of the Partner Board for the Infrastructure and Development Services Group. While at PA he developed a multi-million pound public sector reform business, leading projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and South Asia.  After leaving PA he set up his own consultancy firm, continuing to undertake international public sector reform projects.

From 2010 to 2012 Julian was a Non-Executive Director of Herts Community Services NHS Trust, an organisation with £125 million pa turnover and 2,600 staff. He was Chairman of the Finance and Business Investment Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Audit Committee.  Recently, he has helped the charity Friends of the Elderly to measure and cost the activities and health impact of its home support workers, as well as assisting HighGround draw up a business plan.