Enterprise & Strategic Planning

Our principals helped introduce strategic and business planning to higher education in the mid-1970s.  So our experience runs deep and our expertise is proven.   Whether scaled for an academic start-up or for a multi-faceted university, we’ll bring the right methods, tools, and counsel to ignite your collaborative creativity, to power your animating vision, and to design actionable strategies.


Business Model Development

Purpose:  Every thriving academic enterprise has a cohesive business model for how it will deliver exceptional value for its right-fit students and constituencies, while earning sufficient returns to fuel reinvestment and growth.

Method:  We systematically take you through the steps of defining your distinctive value proposition, choosing market segments, establishing relationships and channels, building competencies and capabilities, and determining revenue and cost structures.  At each phase in our iterative process, we validate decisions about your business model design using our proprietary Academic Value Model Canvas.

Outcomes:  A complete, rigorous business model, synthesized and visualized on our  Academic Value Model Canvas, which clearly lays out the pathway and guardrails for strategic and business planning around exceptional educational value.

Strategic Planning

Purpose: Effective strategic planning programs craft a compelling vision around exceptional academic value and design the strategies, capabilities, and resources to achieve it.

Method: Our strategic planning model has been developed and refined over 40 years of practice across education.  We help you customize the planning process; document current baseline performance;  understand the competitive environment; identify future forces; inventory relevant capabilities and resources; build a cohesive business model; design and prioritize operating strategies; apply decision modeling to derive operating outcomes and pro formas; and set performanc indicators (KPIs) and dashboards.

Outcomes: A comprehensive organizational strategic plan that sets forth a compelling future direction for your school – and which, in turn, impels program development, brand strategy, marketing, fundraising, and resource development and budgeting.

Business Planning

Purpose: Business planning creates a detailed blueprint for how your academic or administrative unit can successfully advance and operate to support and realize the university’s or college’s comprehensive mission and enterprise strategy.

Method: We tailor business planning for the specific objectives, challenges, and needs of your academic or business unit.  Our educational clients include:  academic colleges, schools, or divisions within a university; graduate and professional schools; new academic unit start-ups, such as online ventures; branch campuses and sattelites; theological seminaries; enrollment management and recruitment functions; and alumni engagement programs.

Outcomes: A fully-documented business plan that guides the academic or administrative unit’s growth and advancement coherent with the university’s or college’s strategic direction.

Expert Strategy Counsel

Purpose: University and college presidents, trustees, administrative officers, senior and functional leaders, and planning offices benefit from expert counsel and techniques on a range of matters involving strategic and business planning, competitive analysis and positioning, educational futures, performance analyses, and decision modeling and forecasting.

Method:  We can support your internal planning programs and initiatives  with strategy counsel, in-depth investigations and analytics, proven tools and techniques, and seasoned advice on planning matters important to executive and senior leadership.

Outcomes: In our role as strategy counsel, we aim not only to provide the planning deliverables expected of our client presidents, trustees, and senior administrators, but also to foster the  mindset and competencies for strategic thinking and action.


Pre-Planning Audit.  Colleges and universities save time and money by carefully preparing for planning. Our pre-planning audit assesses your institution’s readiness to plan, by evaluating information systems, knowledge of the competitive environment, organizational climate, and issues and biases that influence planning.

Competitor Analysis and Benchmarking.  Our Quantitative Overlap Study  benchmarks a college against its competitors and peers across some 500 factors pertaining to academic offerings, enrollments, recruitment, student demographics, tuition policy and discounting, faculty compensation, finances, resources, and fundraising – as well as calculating key strategic financial and operating ratios. This knowledge helps position your college in the marketplace and set benchmarks for future performance.

Capabilities Audit. Your strategic or business plan can only be achieved if you have the right set of capabilities, competencies, and resources to fuel it. Our capabilities audit assesses the current strengths and weaknesses of your academic enterprise and the alignment of its capabilities for strategic success.

Scenario Planning.  Scenario planning is an invaluable tool for forward-thinking institutions that wish to incorporate “futures” considerations into planning. Using various decision modeling and risk analysis techniques, we help you assess the relative value of alternative scenarios and  choose the optimal course of action.

Academic Value Model Canvas.  Our proprietary Academic Value Model Canvas planning tool walks you through a disciplined approach to design a cohesive business model for your academic enterprise, while visualizing all the interactive components how exceptional value will be created and managed.

Decision Modeling and Forecasting.  Nearly all of our strategic and business planing programs include the application of decision modeling and forecasting techniques and tools, which rigorously test and refine planning assumptions and generate the enrollment, financial, recruitment, fundraising, investment, and other pro formas which document an effective plan.

Education Futures.  Efficacious planning looks far enough ahead to consider how higher education might change in the future and to spur creative thinking about these changes. We track a complete set of factors related to the future of higher education, such as market demographics, attitude shifts, learning technologies, and public policy and funding. We also conduct in-depth futures research into topics specific to a college’s interests.



Integrating strategic, business, brand, and program planning

The Challenge:  Aspiring to accelerate its trajectory of service and success in academic programs for community-based professions, a private Northeast college undertook a comprehensive approach to strategic planning, brand strategy, division-level business planning, and new program development.

The Engagement:  Performance audit of current operations, academic programs, enrollments, and strategic indicators; research into planning futures and brand strength ; competitive positioning research and analysis; business model development; formal strategic planning; decision modeling and forecasting; institutional brand strategy and platform; business plan for graduate and online programs; identification and evaluation of new undergraduate and graduate program opportunities; new program planning and launch; and fundraising campaign communications support.

The Results:  Supported by our two-year collaboration across multiple phases of performance assessments, brand and positioning research, strategic and business planning, brand development, and new program development, our client college has achieved steady enrollment growth, an enhanced operating position, and new vitality on campus and throughout the community.

Building a school and culture of graduate studies

The Challenge:  Recognizing that unfavorable demographics threatened its heavy reliance on undergraduate programs, a regional master’s-level university determined to create a new school of graduate studies that would strengthen its reputation, expand graduate offerings and delivery, and nurture a “graduate culture” among faculty and students.

The Engagement:  A benchmarking study of other regional universities that had achieved growth patterns similar to our client’s goals; a comprehensive inventory of competitors’ programming, positioning, and resources; “back-solving” decision modeling to ascertain annual growth targets necessary to attain five-year enrollment and operating goals; investigations of regional job and employment forecasts; research support for new graduate program opportunities; research into emerging methods and applications of alternative credentialing; support for new program design, prioritization, and launch; and brand and reputational research and planning.

The Results:  Following the nine-month planning process, the university’s board of trustees adopted the comprehensive business, brand, and new program development plan we had helped developed and authorized a multi-million dollar investment to fund the first phase of implementation.

Launching a division of online studies

The Challenge:  Design the business model, strategy, organization, and operational requirements to initiate a division of online and extended learning for a private doctoral university, in order to meet the aggressive start-up and growth goals set by trustees and executive leadership.

The Engagement:  A thorough investigation of the business models, organizations, and investments of other national universities that had fast-tracked online offerings; a thorough examination of the programming, positioning, and operations of competing online enterprises; scenario modeling and assessment of alternative business models that reflected high-growth potential; and development of the business model, program portfolio, operational strategies, and major investments to initiate launch.

The Results:  Enabled by our “heavy lifting” of environmental and competitive scanning and scenario assessment, our client university delivered on its start-up plan in less than six months, while still engaging faculty and other institutional champions.  In the first full academic year of the plan, some 30 professional programs are being offered for online or blended delivery, and the initial organizational architecture is being built and staffed.

Let’s talk educational value

We enjoy strategic conversations on how universities, colleges, and schools can enhance their academic value through actionable research, robust business planning, compelling brand strategy, and effective performance.


Pepper Pike, OH

© 2023 Prescience Associates, LLC

Pepper Pike, OH
© 2023 Prescience Associates, LLC