Planning is an essential activity for meeting service objectives and developing organisational health and growth. Strategic planning is a process that provides your organisation with medium to long-term direction. It determines where the organisation is going, how it is going to get there, and how you will know if it got there. The process will help your organisation establish its strengths and weaknesses and uncover hidden threats and opportunities. It can contribute to a greater sense of purpose and accountability within your organisation. There are many approaches to such planning such as the balanced scorecard and a statement of strategic intent.
A strategic plan often includes the organisation's vision, mission, target group, values, goals, service objectives, performance indicators, geographical location and budget. Once the plan is established, the board and management monitor and evaluate the organisation's progress and, if necessary, adjust the plan according to changing conditions and needs. Regular monitoring and evaluating is essential because the results contribute significantly to further planning.
Depending on the size of your organisation, strategic planning can be anything from a fairly simple process to a large complex project. However long it takes, ensure that the final document is simple to read and understand. Keep in mind the audience who will be reading your strategic plan and develop a format that will make sense to them. If the plan is too large and complicated, it will not be read or implemented, and the process will not have been useful or worthwhile. If the plan has several goals and objectives, you can always arrange them into smaller action plans that are easier to monitor.
When developing your strategic plan, remember to stay focused on the critical matters. Strategic plans are about big picture issues that guide your organisation's work. If you find yourself getting caught up in trivial details, people may become frustrated or bored and the plan is unlikely to be finalised.
Make it a priority to gain commitment from the board and staff to begin a strategic planning process which is ongoing. Identify the key members who will become the planning team and drive the process. Determine what resources and time you need to make the planning effective and establish what tools and approaches you are going to use.