Integrated Functional Plans – Action Steps
It is now time to develop specific action steps for each objective. This should be a detailed plan listing dates of completion, responsible individual for completing the action step, resources needed to complete the action step, and a measurement for success. In larger organizations this level of detailed planning is left to those who will be responsible for “making it happen”. The planning team usually delegates action planning to supervisors/administrators and their staff to draft a plan for executive staff review.
At this point, the planning team members will ask themselves “What changes or modifications to the organization must we make in order for this plan to be successful?” Changes or modifications may include changes in the organizational structure [Who reports to whom for what?]. In order for the plan to be successful will the organization need to change, add or delete policies, procedures etc.? What training will staff need to have in order for them to successfully meet the new goals and objectives? What training will leaders need to effectively lead personnel in meeting the mission, goals and objectives? How will we reward employees for reaching goals and objectives?
Monitoring and Evaluation
Effective monitoring and evaluation is important to the success of the strategic plan. Planning team members will develop monitoring and evaluation tools to ensure the success of their plan. It is important to regularly [annually at a minimum] review the plan and make appropriate modifications due to environmental factors.
The following was taken from Bryson, J. M. (1995). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers
Where do you want your organization to be a year from now? Five years? If you don’t care there is no need to plan. But if being the best you can be is important then you need to plan.
The process of identifying where you want to be and deciding what you must do to get there is known as strategic planning. And it’s as important for any organization. Without a clear picture of where you want to be your path will be rocky. There will be indecisiveness, second guessing and heading off into directions that you don’t want to pursue.
Many books and articles describe how best to do strategic planning, and many go to much greater lengths than this workshop will. However, our purpose here is to present the fundamental steps that must be taken in the strategic planning process.
We will cover the steps of planning.
You will do an analysis of your organization.
You will create a road map to the future for your organization or work group.
What is Strategic Planning?
Most of us know that planning is a way of looking toward the future and deciding what the organization will do in the future. Strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce decisions and actions that guide and shape what the organization is, what it does, and why it does it (Bryson, 1995). Both strategic planning and long range planning cover several years. However, strategic planning requires the organization to examine what it is and the environment in which it is working. Strategic planning also helps the organization to focus its attention on the crucial issues and challenges. It, therefore, helps the organization’s leaders decide what to do about those issues and challenges.
In short, as a result of a strategic planning process, an organization will have a clearer idea of what it is, what it does, and what challenges it faces. If it follows the plan, it will also enjoy enhanced performance and responsiveness to its environment. (source Western Michigan University)
Who should be involved?
Each organization must carefully decide who should be involved in strategic planning. There are several key roles to be played in a strategic planning process including
· Planning Process Champion. This is usually a key player. The Commissioner, Director or chief officer of your organization. The person must be someone who believes in strategic planning and will help keep the process on track. This person does not have to be an expert in strategic planning, but s/he should be someone respected by staff members.
· Plan Writer. Someone must assemble the planning group’s decisions into a cohesive document. This person takes notes during planning meetings and uses them to prepare a plan, often in the form of several drafts for review by the entire planning group. Writing the plan, however, is more than simply compiling a record of planning meetings. The plan writer must also insert options and next logical steps into the drafts at each stage of the planning process.
· Planning Process Facilitator. This person may be from outside the organization, though this role also can be played by a member of the organization who may have some skill in the area of group facilitation. The facilitator’s main responsibility is to plan each meeting’s agenda and to ensure the group stays on track.
· Planning Team. The planning team’s members are those who are most directly involved in laying out the issues and options for the future of the organization. This might be the entire board of directors plus the executive director. It might also be a committee of the board plus the executive director. Key staff beyond the executive director may also be involved. It might also include one (or more) representatives of people served by the organization. What is important to remember is to ensure that the people who are fairly representative of and respected by the organization’s leadership are included on the planning team.
· Staff. Staff members, particularly the director, have expertise and information that should be tapped during the planning process. Representation should be from all levels of the organization. Since they will be the ones who will carry out the plan on a day-to-day basis, they should be informed and, to whatever extent is appropriate for the organization, involved.
· Clients. Those who benefit from the organization’s services are sometimes involved in the planning process. Each organization makes its own choices about whether to include clients on the planning team or whether to consult them in some other way
· (Board members) For non-profits members of the board of directors would be included.
Each organization needs to decide for itself when the time is right for a strategic plan. It is sometimes easier to describe when the time is not right than when it is. For example, when the roof has blown off the building, an organization should replace it, not start strategic planning. The organization should get its crisis resolved, preferably by acting strategically, and then begin planning. Something less than a “roof-blown-off” crisis, however, usually prompts organizations to begin strategic planning. Some organizations find the loss of a significant funding source or, conversely, the opportunity to obtain a new source of funds, an impetus to plan. Other organizations recognize that their clients are changing and, therefore, they ought to prepare for these changes. And so on. There are as many reasons for starting a strategic planning process as there are nonprofit organizations.
After deciding to engage in strategic planning, the organization should take the following initial steps:
· List some of the main issues that face the organization. This need not be a complete list, nor does it have to be fully organized. However, knowing some of the concerns of the organization will help those who will be asked to be involved in planning to prepare.
· Decide when the plan should be adopted. Developing and drafting a plan will take a few weeks to a few months. The organization should set a future board meeting to be the target date for adopting the plan.
· Set aside some time for the planning process. Those who will be involved in planning should agree to take time for the planning process. This could involve a few hours a week for three to four weeks or it could involve a single day or weekend. The plan writer, of course, will spend more time than others as s/he will be preparing a document that represents decisions made at planning meetings. I recommend that the total time frame from starting the planning process to adopting the plan not stretch out for more than three months for a small organization.
· Decide if a facilitator would be helpful. Some organizations find that an individual who is not directly involved with the organization’s regular work can help them with their planning process.
· Decide who should be involved and how they should be involved in planning. See the list on page 3 for suggestions about the major roles.
· Find a place for the planning meetings to occur. It is often helpful to meet someplace other than the standard meeting location for the organization because a different setting can help members of the group step out of their usual patterns. The planning location should be comfortable, include tables or other surfaces for participants to write, and have room to move around. Having the ability to provide refreshments for planning participants is also needed. Some organizations use large sheets of paper to record ideas, so having a planning location that permits hanging paper (using masking tape or other nondestructive adhesive) on the walls is ideal.