A strategic plan requires the input of management as well as the board. The plan must belong to the organisation and it is important that there is agreement and commitment to the strategic planning effort and the key planning steps.
To begin with, you will seek to answer some key questions such as:
Based on the strategy, the organisation will create an effective business model for its operations.
Political, economic, social and technological factors (PEST) provide a framework for analysing a situation and should be used to review a strategy or position, direction of an organisation, a marketing proposition, or idea. The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is also vital to assist decision making.
These tools develop answers to some fundamental questions:
The monitoring of the external environment should include a review of stakeholder groups to protect the special relationship between the organisation and its stakeholders.
The organisation should also look within itself at its own strengths and weaknesses. It should consider its resources and how it has used these or will use them in the future to sustain performance. Understanding the linkages between inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes is vital and clarifying the concepts may be helpful.
It is very important for charities to concentrate more on performance information. Without some form of performance criteria and monitoring it is difficult to establish and evaluate the effectiveness of alternative strategies and the use of the organisation's resources.
The second stage is to properly identify strategic issues and strategic aims. This is done by focusing on the purpose, the vision, the mission and the values of the organisation. This will help define the key strategic aims – which are often expressed in terms of ‘we will…’. The ‘we wills’ are underpinned by the action to deliver the aims. This can be depicted by way of a strategy tree.as shown in figure 1 for an organisation whose goal was to make a sustainable difference to the lives of people living in poverty.
As the strategy tree grows each ‘We will’ aim is supplemented by a series of ‘by’s’. For example, Aim 1 ‘We will build financial and people capacity so as to increase our outputs, outcomes and impact’ by:
This process will help prioritise problems and is most important for charities with limited resources.
There are several different approaches to identifying issues & many of these are discussed by John Bryson in his book Strategic planning for Public and Non-Profit Organisations (1988).
The conventional favoured approach involves the organisation establishing its goals and objectives and the formulating the strategies to achieve them.
The goals approach requires detailed and specific goals, which should have wide acceptance. It has been used successfully in charities with dominant leadership who have often imposed their goals and is perhaps easier when there are fewer objectives and fewer functions.Another approach is the direct approach, and this is best when there is no proper consensus on goals or if they are nebulous and/or abstract and is useful when the goals are changing so fast that they may be superseded and obsolete in a short time span.
Many charities use the direct approach because their diverse activities and disparate stakeholders make it difficult to achieve full goal or value congruence. It can be successful but demands a strong and dominant team to make it work.
Others favour the approach of ‘looking’ at the organisation in the future, to consider how it should look in ideal circumstances. This visionary approach to identify strategic issues may appear conceptual but can assist with the important task of seeing what needs changing. It is used when it may be difficult to identify issues and has been used successfully in the earlier stages of strategic development.
A world free from poverty, exclusion and injustice
To fight global poverty by working in partnership and solidarity with communities, and by campaigning against the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice
This step can be quite important as it identifies practical strategies and also strategies that may be inappropriate at present but could be useful later.The strategy should address both the long and short term and define the tasks that need to be performed over the next two to three years and also set a plan of action for the immediate future. Short-term actions should aim at enhancing long-term goals. It is important for the organisation to identify its own key success factors. These are the key areas that should be performed well if the organisation is to achieve success. Success can be much harder to define in charities than in the ‘for profit’ sector which often measures success by the bottom line.