Irwin Grayson Associates
Tools & techniques

Sometimes I am commissioned, perhaps in partnership, to prepare a tool of some description; other times I prepare a tool or technique to address a specific issue. Once those tools and techniques are made popular, then I put them up on the website. Earlier tools and techniques are available in my archive.

Business planning

This short note, prepared for and published by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, will help any small business to think through its planning but it has been written particularly for not for profits that are considering adding a more commercial service to their offering. It will help you to think through market research, marketing and financial forecasting. Download the note here

Simple questions to help you think about strategy

Many NGOs find it difficult to develop a good strategy. In 2006, I undertook an assignment, in partnership with Annabel Jackson Associates, to prepare a document designed to ask readers key questions about their strategy. Download the final report here

Absorption costing

Too many NGOs seek to raise funds to cover what they call core cots, but in reality are fixed overheads, separately from project costs. This note, prepared for and published by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, explains different types of cost and suggests an alternative model, based on total project costs, for raising funds from sponsors and donors. Download the note here
"I have looked a number of reports and guidance notes on full cost recovery; this is a particularly clear explanation for anyone wishing to allocate costs fairly and transparently - and the fact that it has a good example attached is extremely helpful."
Stephanie Smith, Service Manager, West Yorkshire Family Mediation Service

Calculating effective annual interest rates

Calculating interest rates can be quite a challenge, whether you are borrowing money or lending it. Imagine that you want to borrow £10,000 and have been told that the interest rate is 20 per cent. (I know it's high, but it makes the arithmetic easier to follow). You are told that you will have to pay £2,000 interest;for the year and are then asked for repayments of £1,000 per month. Are you really paying 20 per cent? Or are you paying far more than that. Alternatively, you know how much you want to charge, but don't know how to calculate the repayments. This note will tell you how ...and... ...this spreadsheet will provide you with all you need to do the calculations.

Financial forecasting

Many people are very happy to sit down with a completely blank spreadsheet and start from scratch, but this simple template will considerably speed up the preparation of financial forecasts. Download the template here

Gantt charts

There are some very sophisticated project planning software packages available. This is a very simple spreadsheet that will be more than adequate for most projects. Download the template here

'To do' lists

I searched the internet in vain for a simple, but comprehensive 'to do' list, though there are now some good ones around. In the end I coded this very simple Word template. You might find it helpful too. Download the template here

Strategy mapping in the public sector
Long Range Planning, December 2002

One of the most effective techniques is a simple way of helping people to understand how the different elements of strategy interlink. This can sometimes be hard for not for profit organisations. However, Robert Kaplan's and David Norton's technique of strategy mapping can be immensely helpful as a powerful technique which links together the different strategic perspectives of any business. It can also help organisations to summarise their entire strategy on just one sheet of paper. Download the paper here