Strategic planning is a process that provides your organisation with medium to long-term direction. The process involves stepping back from your day-to-day operations to identify opportunities, analyse challenges, then establish what your priorities should be in order to achieve organisational health and growth.
Strategic planning is one way to develop greater accountability and sense of purpose within your organisation. This is achieved by gaining a commitment from the board to drive the process, and then involving other stakeholders, such as staff and volunteers, to provide their input. Strategic planning can be challenging and time consuming, but it is rewarding and often critical to the sustainability and health of your organisation.
There is no right or wrong way to implement strategic planning, so begin the process by determining what resources and time you need and establish the tools and approaches you are going to use. You might decide to hold a series of weekly meetings with a strategy team, or alternatively a strategic planning day or weekend with an independent facilitator to guide you through the process.
One of the common planning approaches used by many organisations is the SWOT Analysis. This exercise helps you to identify the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieving your organisation’s mission:
- Strengths – the attributes and factors helping you achieve your mission
- Weaknesses – the factors that are weaknesses, barriers or constraints for your organisation
- Opportunities – the factors that could strengthen the organisation or help you achieve your mission
- Threats – the factors that could be obstructive or threaten your organisational health and growth
The aim of conducting a SWOT Analysis is to help your planning team make better strategic choices and decisions about the organisation’s operational and financial direction for the next 2-5 years.
One of the outcomes of the planning process should be a document that clearly communicates the planning decisions you have made. This is known as the Strategic Plan.