When startups and scaleups conduct a current state analysis, stakeholders from those fast growing companies may be tempted to look at examples of the current states of their marketplace peers and make comparisons. There may be some lessons that can be learned from being aware of your competition, but every company has a unique identity and is in a unique growth stage. The better move is to utilize a current state analysis template that helps uncover the most relevant internal insights and data sets to identify where a company's processes and operations are at a snapshot in time, relative to stated goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use a current state analysis template to maximize the effectiveness of your strategic planning, to show with certainty how the company is performing and what it needs to improve.
  • Internal stakeholders and outside consultants are essential at different points in the current state analysis process. Combined they show the company from every angle and in the correct context.
  • While the snapshot in time is informative, it only becomes valuable when used as a part of the strategic plan that gives goals and milestones for the next year or more of activity.

Current State Looks Inside

There are some universal questions involved in any current state analysis template, with the goal of identifying the financial, human resources and competitive realities of a company at any given time, both good and bad. Like the law of quantum physics that states you can’t determine a particle’s behavior or location until you measure it, any current state analysis captures the reality of a startup and one precise moment in time.

Some of the questions most commonly found on a current state analysis template include:

  • What does your company do?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What makes your company better?
  • What value does the company provide to its customers?
  • What is your brand?
  • What is your company’s message?
  • What do you want your brand to do for your company?
  • What steps are you taking to get business for the company?

These may seem like very simple questions, but that is by design. The goal of a current state analysis template is to guide the process of drawing out as much information and response as possible from everyone participating in the creation of the current state analysis. It will take a lot of honesty and integrity to answer the questions in the correct way, because there will always be multiple areas of the company that need to be improved and deeply analyzed. This is not the time for partners and department heads to pat themselves on the back and only count up their wins. Instead, candor and clarity will be most valuable to producing a finished current state analysis that will guide everyone forward.

One popular and productive tactic for conducting a current state analysis is to have an outside facilitator or consultant meet with company leaders to go through the questions on the template individually, in an environment that prevents groupthink responses.

Because each person is going to have different perspectives, the multitude of answers from this exercise will reveal the commonalities and differences of opinion that exist in the company at that given moment. Compiling and comparing the responses from the current state analysis template begins to reveal the strengths and gaps in the organization, and points to where leaders will need to dig deeper to gain valuable insights.

Using SWOT In Your Current State Analysis

A common business exercise that is an important piece of a current state analysis template is a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at play in the current environment. This exercise should follow internal perceptions interviews conducted by an outside partner or consultant to eliminate biases, with the goal of moving from looking inward to seeing what is happening outside the company and preparing for any impacts, positive or negative.

The internal piece of the SWOT is the strengths and weaknesses of people and processes that can be controlled by the company. It is important to keep in mind while conducting a current state analysis that something identified as a strength can also be a weakness, such as being small and agile to allow for quick responses can also create limited capacity and an inability to withstand disruptions.

The opportunities and threats side of the SWOT exercise will reveal the external factors that can't be controlled from within the company, but should be a part of the consideration to make the most benefit out of an external tailwind, or prevent an external shock from crippling the business.

Mapping Out The Future

An effective current state analysis template will also offer some guidance on how to observe and document the full run of products and processes involved in the business. Another valuable step of this process will be the creation of process maps that clearly illustrate to outsiders what is involved in the creation and delivery of a given product or service, with the end goal of identifying bottlenecks and areas to streamline to help the company move closer toward its operational goals.

Maps like these can serve much the same purpose as the “You Are Here” kiosk in a shopping center. Or they can serve as a treasure map, showing where your business is located on the path taking you toward the well-defined goal or goals stated in accompanying long-term planning documents.

With an understanding of the current state of your company’s personnel and culture, vision, brand, all business-related activities and opportunities for optimization, the path toward success will be clear and achievable.

Ready to get started with your strategic planning and current state analysis? Sellerant has the resources and expertise to get it done right.