Strategic Planning

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Strategic Planning is an important tool to help improve your effectiveness as an organisation. It can be particularly useful at times of uncertainty and change, whether internal or external. Most successful organisations and businesses will have a Strategic Plan.

What is Strategic Planning?

At its core, Strategic Planning is about understanding your key aims and outcomes, the needs of your organisation and the context in which you operate. Using this understanding you can develop options to meet your key aims, select the best option(s) and translate this into a clear plan of action and framework for monitoring your performance over time.

Strategic Planning takes time and effort. This can often put small organisations off, or make it difficult to fit in among your day to day activities. But taking the time to analyse your organisation’s performance, to set out a clear vision for the future and a plan for how you will achieve it is invariably time well spent.

Why does Strategic Planning matter?

The most valuable aspect of a Strategic Plan is usually the conversations and thinking which have gone into its development, rather than the text of the Plan itself. However, writing it down on paper is also important as this allows you to monitor your progress over time. Your Strategic Plan can also be an important document when applying for funding. It sets out what you want to achieve as an organisation and the steps you have worked out to help you get there. It demonstrates to potential funders that you have a plan for the future. 

How do I do it?

If you have never done it before, developing a Strategic Plan can seem a daunting process. It does not have to be too onerous, though – find a way to plan that is appropriate to your organisation and suits the time, energy and money you have available. Focus on the key points and develop a practical action plan with timescales for review.

It is important that everyone involved in your organisation understands why you are developing a Strategic Plan and buys into the process. Your staff (if applicable), management and Board should all be involved.

Strategic Plans traditionally include the following elements.

  • Mission Statement: why you exist as an organisation
  • Vision Statement: what you will look like in three to five years’ time
  • Values: your distinctive core beliefs or guiding principles
  • SWOT: a summary of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Competitive Advantage: what are you best at compared to the competition?
  • Long-term Strategic Objectives: what are your aims over three years? What do you need to focus on to achieve them?
  • Strategies: what methods will you use to reach that vision?
  • Short-term Goals: specific targets that are steps towards achieving the strategic objectives. These targets must be measurable.
  • Action Plan: how the short-term goals will be accomplished. What are they, when will they be done and by whom?
  • Scorecard: to keep track of your performance using key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Financial Assessment: use your past performance and future projections to plan for the future.

How can we help?

Our Development Team can provide support and advice to groups who want to develop or review their Strategic Plan. We also offer more hands-on services for those groups which feel they need a bit more support. For example, we can help you build your evidence base to make sure you are making decisions based on the right information. We can help you identify and assess alternative options, and then plan how to deliver these. Finally, we can facilitate discussion sessions and away-days for you and your team.

Strategic Planning doesn’t have to be difficult or excessively time-consuming. It will help your organisation focus on your aims and how to achieve them as you plan for the future. So if you haven’t already done so, think about whether now is the right time for you to develop a Strategic Plan for your organisation. And remember, if you could use help or encouragement our Development Team are just a phone call away.

Do we have a toolkit/how to guide that we can put online or link to?

See knowhow non-profit’s advice on drawing up a Strategic Plan by clicking here