Business Planning

What Is Business Planning?

A business plan is intended to align the organization’s work approach with its strategic plan(s).  This includes:

  • Prioritizing activities across the organization and within its sub-divisions
  • Define responsibilities for who is doing what
  • Define targets for the delivery of products and services
  • Allocate resources to help the organization meet its goals (funding and staffing)
  • Identify shortfalls or gaps in its resources 

For Caltrans, the business plans VMS creates are generally short-term and should be revised every one or two years.  While there is flexibility in how they are structured, a good business plan should clearly communicate the cover the bullets outlined above.

A good strategic plan (or direction) should serve as the foundation for an effective business plan.  If a strategic plan or direction does not currently exist, consideration should be given to developing this first.  This will ensure that work performed aligns with the goals and objectives of the organization.  

Assuming the strategic direction is set and understood, how does the organization translate this into objective reality?  To do this, the business planning process must answer the three questions identified below. 

The Value of Business Planning

Business Planning helps the organization allocate its resources in a way that align with the larger strategic goals and objectives.  It is a decision-making process that requires the different elements of the organization to make collective decisions about priorities and how they shall work together.  This business planning effort improves transparency and accountability by communicating roles and responsibilities relative to meeting performance targets over a finite period.

Participants in business planning workshops usually involve key management staff.  For example, an HQ Division would include the Division Chief and the various Office Chiefs. A District Division would include the Division Deputy and the Office or Branch Chiefs.

Typical Business Planning Study Process

A VMS Caltrans Business Planning effort typically includes the following activities:


  • Identify Project Sponsor(s)
  • Identify workshop team
  • Develop the project charter with the project sponsor(s)
  • Hold a kick-off meeting with the workshop team to review the charter
  • Gather and analyze data (budget information, mandates, existing work products, etc.)
  • Review strategic objectives, strategies and performance measures


  • Workshop 1 (Review data, identify and prioritize objectives and related products and services, prioritize work activities, identify work plan templates, ensure alignment with Strategic Plan(s))
  • Interim Activities (Develop initial work plans for each sub-division, allocate resources to activities)
  • Workshop 2 – (Review work plans for all sub-divisions, identify gaps, level resources, develop DRAFT business plan)


  • Follow up meetings with business planning team and project sponsor(s) to review and edit DRAFT Business Plan document
  • Develop Final Business Plan document

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