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Strategic Planning Resources

Providing Assistance with Unit-Level Strategic Planning

Purpose of Strategic Planning

Most units are already planning, even if there is no formal plan in place, through daily decisions of how to allocate resources, time, effort, etc. The purpose of strategic planning is to provide the opportunity for units to self-reflect and re-energize; to innovate and capitalize on new ideas; and to articulate a path for moving forward. A strategic planning process allows units to make decisions and actions explicit and reflective of unit priorities, to intentionally position the unit to be proactive and competitive, and to more effectively use unit resources towards achieving unit goals proactively rather than reactively. A strong strategic plan connects, aligns, and integrates at all levels through the gathering of input to identify priorities, engagement with constituents and stakeholders, and alignment of unit goals with school and University priorities. A written plan is the culmination of the planning process and is used not only internally to guide the unit but also externally to inform its constituents and stakeholders of its goals and future direction. 

Four-Step Strategic Planning Process

Four Step Strategic Planning Process

The Planning team works closely with units seeking assistance with strategic planning efforts and can provide an array of support and resources. On a very general level, the Planning team helps units get started with a planning process, offers context and insight into the larger University picture, assists units if/when they hit roadblocks, and provides an objective perspective. Specifically, the team can assist units in the following ways: preparing for or responding to recommendations from the institutional Program Review process; facilitating meetings and other types of interactions with key constituents and stakeholders; providing guidance on the activities and exercises associated with the four planning phases; facilitating connections with other relevant units, offices, and resources; and reviewing and providing feedback on draft plans.

Where is the unit now?

In this first phase of the strategic planning process, the unit reviews its current state, gathers information, and analyzes both internal and external data. This assessment is important because it provides a basis for the unit to understand where it is at this point in time which should help provide a clearer picture of where it wants to go in the future. The information is gathered from a variety of resources both internal and external to the unit. Moving through the activities described in this phase allows ample opportunity for constituents and stakeholders to be part of the process, leading to increased transparency and buy-in both in the short-term and the long-term.

The following activities conducted during the ASSESS phase of the strategic planning process can help the unit better understand its current environment: discussing questions to jumpstart strategic planning; conducting a self-study considering inputs from Program Review (if applicable), annual reports, and foundational documents; performing a SWOT analysis; conducting peer benchmarking; and soliciting constituent and stakeholder input through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.


Assess Resources

Where does the unit want to be?

In this phase, the unit creates its goals, develops a framework, and creates an initial draft of the plan. As part of the process, the unit revisits and/or defines its mission, vision, and values. The initial draft of the plan, constructed with a consistent and straightforward framework, is then socialized with stakeholders to obtain feedback before moving forward.

The following activities conducted during the DEVELOP phase of the strategic planning process can help the unit synthesize what was learned in the ASSESS phase to draft a strategic plan: digesting constituent and stakeholder input; reviewing the unit's mission, vision, and values statements; conducting an SSS (Sustain, Start, Stop) analysis; establishing a strategic plan framework; developing the strategic plan content; and, finally, writing and socializing the strategic plan. 



How is the unit going to get there?

In this phase, the unit establishes deliverables including milestones and responsible parties; determines the necessary support and resources; identifies metrics and key performance indicators; finalizes the planning document; and begins to advance the strategic goals through identified action steps.

Resources to assist units with this step of the planning process are currently under development.

How will the unit know if it is successful?

In this phase, the unit monitors the progress of the implementation of the strategic plan and measures success through the analysis of metrics and key performance indicators. Progress is visualized through dashboards and communicated to stakeholders. Finally, the unit evaluates the entire process in general, refining it for the next round of strategic planning.

Resources to assist units with this step of the planning process are currently under development.

Request Assistance

Departments interested in exploring the possibilities for assistance from the Planning team are encouraged to contact Kristi Hubbard, Assistant Director of Planning, to discuss the strategic planning request and what assistance the department may need.