Best Practices for System Transformation Part 2: Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is very important for a wide variety of organizations. Being able to chart the direction for an organization and decide how to allocate resources for the future is a critical component of organizational success. An effective and efficient strategic planning process can help immensely with these issues. According to research from Kotter International, around 70 percent of strategic plans fail, so ensuring that the planning process is sound is a key first step.

At Southcentral Foundation, the strategic planning process is driven by customer-owner feedback and all staff participate in it. The approach is aimed at capturing the voice of the customer, ensuring that key relationships are maintained, and leveraging the culture of SCF and the community for success. SCF’s strategic planning process (also called the strategic planning cycle) has five key process steps, detailed below:

  1. Environmental Assessment. This step takes place from January through March. This involves an organizational SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis with input from staff, including customer-owners. A summary of the analysis and other strategic considerations are documented in the Strategic Input Document (SID), which is vetted by multiple committees and presented to SCF leadership. The SID sets the foundation for all the strategic planning considerations that follow.
  2. Strategic Plan Validation. This step takes place from April through June. In this step, current strategy and performance is reviewed against the SID. The final plan is shared and reviewed with division leadership and the Functional Committee Structure (FCS) (discussed in the previous part to this series). All department leaders review the plan with their staff, and managers submit their proposed budgets to leadership for consideration.
  3. Annual Planning. This step takes place from July through September. Here, division leadership discusses priorities and agrees on which Corporate Initiatives (CI) will be pushed out to appropriate departments. FCS oversight committees discuss and agree on which CI will be pushed out to appropriate subcommittees. The receiving groups accept the CI and begin developing action plans. Leadership reviews and approves the final budgets for each department.
  4. Evaluation. This step takes place from October through December. Managers deliver evaluations of past performance and partner with staff to develop their individual Performance Development Plans, which are aligned with department action plans. The Strategic Planning Committee completes an evaluation of the strategic planning process to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  5. Quarterly Reporting. At the end of each quarter, directors/managers review action plans and develop performance reports. The reports are reviewed and discussed by the FCS committees. Strategic opportunities may be identified at this step, and changes to the action plans may occur at this time.

SCF has also developed strategic planning software to facilitate this process. The software is flexible and customizable and helps SCF ensure that all strategic planning actions undertaken are in alignment with SCF’s mission and vision.

Overall, the strategic planning process is a flexible, agile process that encourages employee innovation and allows SCF to effectively implement customer-owner feedback.