Thank you to Erika Cox, Associate Director of Enrollment Services, for providing this helpful information!
Planning for your Strategic Plan
For many, coming up with a game plan to successfully carry out strategic planning and assessment for their department seems like an insurmountable task. I can empathize because I felt this way when I first took over this function for our office. Financial Aid and Enrollment Services put together a rather ambitious 2016 plan with goals that tie to almost every strategic initiative. Each staff member in our office is responsible for participating in a strategic planning committee, and there are various chairs over each phase of our plan. To ensure that we are progressing toward our goals, I developed a way to parcel out our action steps and put in place a reporting structure that allows me to see at a glance where we are with reaching our goals. My hope in sharing this with you is that this will help you easily monitor your offices’ progression and celebrate successes along the way.
Organizing Your Plan
The first step in mapping out our strategic plan was to organize the information into smaller parts. In our I Drive, we have a 2016 Strategic Planning folder. Within that main folder I further organized by aid year:
Since we are in 2012-2013, I’ve broken everything down by goal:
Let’s examine our internal goals tied to Strategic Initiative I (Enriching Education Experiences to Enable Student Success). For example, Goal 1.1: Enhance educational opportunities to promote accountability concerning rights, responsibilities, and eligibility for financial aid to help students graduate on time and be better consumers. To reach this goal, we have various action steps. I created a folder for each of these steps:
For example, one of our action steps for 2012-2013 is to create a financial literacy website. When you click on the Financial Literacy Website folder, you will see a place to put monthly progress reports and to save any work the committee has done to reach this goal:
This thorough set up has allowed me to easily check on the status of each of our action steps at any given time. When you have more than 15, this is extremely helpful.
Organizing Committees and Reporting
Once the strategic plan was organized, we presented our plan to our staff at a meeting and asked each person to volunteer to work on a group that ignited their passions. We asked each manager or coordinator in our area to chair at least one committee (or action step). At our staff meeting, we recruited each staff member to sign up to work on a committee. From there, the chairs selected a co-chair and began holding meetings to make progress toward the assigned action step. I created a master list of who was chairing each committee along with a listing of the co-chair and members:
Once this was done, chairs were expected to hold meetings and chart progress toward completion of their action step using the template provided in the strategic plan:
Even the best organized strategic plan will fail if we don’t chart progress. In the past, doing this was a challenge because of all we had going on at any given time. To prevent me from having to meet often with the contact for each action step to see where they were with their plan, I devised a monthly report each chair is responsible for submitting. The report consists of what steps they are working on, challenges, delays, and where they plan to be the next month. To encourage accountability, we periodically devote time in our manager’s meetings to receive verbal updates from the various chairs. This has worked very well in keeping us chugging along toward our goals while also allowing me a bird’s eye view of where we are in a manageable way.
Words of Encouragement
For those of you involved with assessment, I hope sharing how our plan is organized has given you a tangible way to implement something similar in your department. Keeping track of where we are in our plan is vital if we’re ever to reach our goals. This structure, which I will admit may seem overwhelming at first, has alleviated extra meetings with individual chairs, and has given me the ability to know where we are at any given time. It also helps executive management see where we are and gives a transparency to the process.
If you have any questions about this overview, Erika would be happy to answer them. You can email her at Erika.firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next month!