All strategic plans have three basic elements:
- Where are we today? - the starting point for the plan
- Where do we want to be at some time in the future? - the vision, mission, goals and objectives
- How do we get there? - the action plan
The process of actually producing a plan isn't so easily structured under these three headings; for example, they do not obviously include a means of getting a plan adopted or a regular review of it. One answer is to follow a seven-step process:
- Plan the plan
- Planning Workshop
- Consultation and adoption
The process, and the role of the various "key players" involved in it, is summarised in the sub chapters.
Step 1: Plan the Plan
Before the work of actually producing the plan can really start, a number of key decisions have to be taken. These decisions will affect the eventual outcome, so they require careful consideration:
- The composition of the "planning team": the last section suggested the creation of a team to oversee the planning process. This should be a group of no more than about half a dozen people - more than this and it can be very difficult to arrange meetings - who are committed to the long term good of the NGB. Ideally, they should have no personal axes to grind: they are on the planning team to represent the area as a whole, not a particular interest group/sport.
- How the plan is going to be prepared: at the outset it is important to determine whether the plan preparation is to be done completely "in-house" or will involve an external facilitator and the broad approach to be adopted. This guide is intended as a template, which NGBs can adapt to their own particular needs.
- Identify key internal stakeholders: NGBs have a number of internal stakeholders who will be affected directly by the planning process and outcomes of the plan. These will include:
- The NGB's partners
- Its members
- Professional staff: NGB staff is likely to be affected by the preparation of a strategic plan. Staff must be included in the process, otherwise they might gain the impression the plan is being prepared behind her/ his back.
- Others (this is dependent on specific NGB circumstances)
- Decide on the key external stakeholders: NGBs also have external stakeholders - the organisations with which they interact such as clubs, sponsors, the Irish Sports Council and Government Departments. In addition, if there are outside organisations with which the NGB is likely to wish to work in partnership, it will often help to bring them in to the planning process. In many instances external stakeholders will not wish to be involved on an ongoing basis but this does not mean they should be ignored.
- Set a broad timetable for the planning process: preparing a strategic plan nearly always takes longer than expected at the outset, so build some "float" time into any programme for the preparation of a plan. When setting the overall programme, the key dates on which to base the plan timetable are usually:
- The end of the financial year: the best time to start implementing a new strategic plan is at the beginning of an ISC funding year. This allows an existing budget to continue while the plan and related new budget are prepared
- When the NGB has to submit its plan to the Irish Sports Council. Any deadline set by the Council will obviously be a critical date to take into account when planning the plan. Any NGB will want to ensure that the Irish Sports Council will be willing to support its plan before submitting it. Accordingly it will be imperative to discuss the plan as it evolves with the Irish Sports Council and the Guidelines indicate appropriate stages in the planning process to do this.
The other key elements of Step 1 are:
- Give a commitment to implement the plan before it is started; this will demonstrate to the community and Irish Sports Council that the NGB is taking the planning process seriously. In turn, this should help to bring people into the process because they realise that change is possible.
- Let all elements of the NGB know about the proposal to prepare a strategic plan, the make-up of the planning team, why the plan is needed, the timetable for its production and invite contributions. It is almost inevitable that rumours about the content of the plan will start and the planning team should be open and the process transparent right from the start.
- Ensure that the existing administrative structure is able to "keep the show on the road" during the planning process.
Step 2: Analysis
The first step in the actual plan preparation is to prepare a statement of "where we are today". As much as possible this should be factual, although conclusions and trends should also be included. The analysis should relate to both the external context within which the NGB operates and its own internal policies and those of its partners. The Irish Sports Council will be in a position to contribute to this work from a national policy perspective. Its overall purpose is to set the scene for the remainder of the planning process. It does this by identifying the context within which the plan will be set; taking stock of what the NGB will do, and summarising the key issues the strategic plan must tackle.
2A: The External Context
No plan exists in isolation; instead, it is set in a particular context and should be part of a "cascade" of plans, which should inter-relate and reinforce each other. This cascade is both "top down" and "bottom up". In top down terms, for example, the policies and priorities in the Irish Sports Council's Building Sport for Life (2005) set the context for the Council's policies; these then set the context for NGB plans; and they then set the context for members'/clubs' plans. However, NGBs will have to obtain the support not only of the Irish Sports Council but also of their partners and forum for their plan and therefore will have to take full account of their wishes when preparing it - the bottom up part of the planning cascade. This may seem very bureaucratic at first, but is actually common sense because ultimately it means everyone should be pulling in the same direction.
- Irish Sports Council strategy and policies
- NGB Strategic Plans
- Members' and Clubs' expectations
There is no need for the external analysis to be long or complex: a bullet point summary of no more than about a dozen key points which the NGB should take on board is usually adequate. One way of structuring them is under four headings in a "PEST" analysis:
- Political factors such as the government's commitment to increasing participation in sport by those who are disadvantaged for some reason, particularly young people, and its desire for greater accountability in voluntary bodies
- Economic factors such as the potential sport offers to create employment or work with tourism interests
- Social factors such as the changing role of work patterns or emerging health concerns such as obesity in children
- Technological factors such as competition from computer games for children's time and the impact of the internet and e-mail on NGB administration
It can be useful to follow each bullet point in a PEST analysis by its implication for the NGB: for example, one implication of changing work patterns is that there may be scope to develop coaching courses for adult participants during normal working hours.
2B: Internal Analysis
The internal analysis, perhaps paradoxically, can be a lot more difficult; certainly it should be wide-ranging and cover all the current work of the partners in the NGB. Again, the analysis need not be long-winded and can be prepared in bullet point form. But it must build up to a factually based, wholly objective and, if necessary, brutally frank picture of the NGB.
Wherever possible, basic facts and figures should relate to the way in which the NGB is structured. This will also allow the NGB to identify trends over time and benchmark its performance against other NGBs. The main areas to review are described below.
Established mission, aims and objectives
Every NGB should have a statement in its Memorandum and Articles of its "objects" - the reasons why it exists.
Basic facts and figures
Current data for the organisation will have been collated during the planning process of the NGB. This information will be useful to the NGB in identifying target groups/areas that should be focussed on in the future through the strategic plan.
- Baseline figures on participation levels in the organisation.
- Club membership figures
- Demographic information relating to gender and age breakdown, socio-economic groups and the prevalence of people with a disability in the local community
- The number of clubs, coaches and leaders
NGBs may have many stakeholders, each with a view of what it should be doing and how it is currently performing. This can be gauged by:
- Undertaking a questionnaire survey of stakeholders
- NGB database/wealth of experience
- Arranging roadshows or consultation meetings
- Establishing the views of external stakeholders and the potential for developing partnerships with them
The Irish Sports Council is aware that it is becoming more and more difficult to attract volunteers and that some NGBs may wish to address this in their strategic plan. As a result, NGBs may need to review trends in volunteering to identify the extent to which new volunteers are coming forward and, if there is a problem, why this is so.
Most sports require facilities but Ireland is only beginning to build a good range of facilities. Review the provision of facilities - for example, their quantity, quality, location, who owns them, and how the NGB can use them. Although the Irish Sports Council does not control the funding of sports facilities, the NGBs should be involved in providing advice to their members about making capital grant applications on behalf of their clubs to the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.
The NGB itself will not have the resources to allow it to do everything, which might be desirable to develop their sport and so must actively seek to develop close links with its partners and to make use of available support services. Review:
- Opportunities for the NGB to work effectively with partners
- The NGB's potential in getting and keeping sponsors for its programmes, bearing in mind that a range of tried and tested programmes will be available from the Irish Sports Council
Image and Communications
Sport is competing with many other activities for participants and so effective public relations are essential. Review:
- The image of sport nationwide
- Marketing and promotion of programmes
Administration and Use of Information Technology
Information technology should have had a significant impact on the way NGBs operate in ways ranging from the use of simple mailing lists to desktop publishing and e-mail. As many people interested in the work of the NGB will be able to access the internet either at home or work, it may be possible to be more effective by using e-mail. There may also be other ways in which administrative procedures could be streamlined such as availing of shared services provided by the Irish Sports Council.
The easiest, most common and by far the worst way to produce a budget is to take last year's income and expenditure figures and add a percentage for inflation. Such an approach stifles change. As organisations with limited financial resources of their own, NGBs need to use money as effectively as possible. It will help if you split expenditure into "pay" (including PRSI contributions) and "non-pay" costs such as training courses, travel and subsistence, postage and telecommunications, printing and office supplies, merchandise costs, office premises, consultancy/legal/audit services, insurance and incidental expenses.
In broad terms, the less NGBs depend on grant aid the more they are their own masters. NGBs should bear in mind that support from the Irish Sports Council is split between Core and High Performance funding (if applicable). Financial planning should also take into account the inputs that will be made by the partners to the company particularly in relation to core costs.
The ultimate emphasis in any strategic plan must always be on outcomes - what is actually achieved. In order to provide basic information for the plan, compare inputs (for example, of cash and time) with outcomes and try to determine value for money, if necessarily on a subjective basis. It is often the case that large amounts of time and money are expended to achieve relatively little - an example of the 80:20 rule in action.
2C: Summary Report
The outcome of Step 2 should be a "warts and all" summary of the findings of the analysis stage which also sets out the key issues the NGB must tackle and the resources it already has available or could seek to get in the future. It does not need to be particularly long (a bullet point format is usually fine) but must be clear and identify the key issues the NGB must tackle. It can also be useful to include a SWOT analysis, although there is often a tendency to view this as an end in itself, including too much and then taking little notice of it. Useful headings for the analysis report can include:
- Resources: essentially money and other inputs
- Performance benchmarking:
- Organisation, co-ordination and communication
- Training of volunteers
- Sport for disadvantaged/targeted groups
- Recreational sport
- Performance Pathways
- Coach education, development and deployment
- Club development
- Marketing and promotion
- Key issues for the future
Each section should identify existing objectives and targets if they exist; resources used to try to deliver them; and outcomes.
At this stage it can be useful to get an independent response to the analysis from someone who knows the NGB and the people involved in it but not part of it.
As likely as not, rumours will start as soon as the analysis report is produced and some people will convince themselves, often with no evidence that it has been or will be kept from them. Such rumours and misinformation can seriously harm the strategic planning process because they usually take a disproportionate amount of effort to overcome and divert attention from more important matters. If someone asks for a copy, make sure they get it - another reason for keeping the Analysis Report as short as possible. It will also be sensible to circulate the analysis report to partners and clubs (as appropriate e.g. post on website) to make the point that the whole of the planning process is open and transparent.
Step 3: Planning Workshop
NGBs may find gathering a mass of analytical information comparatively easy but deciding what to do with it is much more difficult. One response is to undertake more analysis, but this can be counter-productive because the problem of deciding what is really important becomes even more difficult. However, Step 3 is the critical one in terms of shaping the eventual plan because it is the stage in which the "big" decisions are taken. These big decisions relate primarily to three things:
- The NGB's vision of the future
- The NGB's mission
- The NGB's key goals
Those involved in this stage of the process must take care not to get bogged down in detail; instead they must concentrate on setting the overall direction and priorities of the NGB for the next few years. This means that they must ignore individual interests or loyalties and seek instead to "invent" the role of the NGB. Furthermore, the process must neither be rushed nor led by any particular interest group within the NGB.
Possible approaches are:
- The planning team can undertake the task.
- One or two day intensive, interactive workshop with key people who will be involved in implementing the eventual plan, although not all of them should be Directors.
While the other approach may be appropriate in some instances, in most cases a planning workshop offers the best prospect of success. Key characteristics of successful workshops are:
- They should last a minimum of a day and ideally a weekend from for example lunchtime on the Saturday to after lunch on the Sunday.
- They should involve 12-20 people, carefully selected to include a blend of those already involved and people not directly involved at present, but with their own views on how the NGB should develop in future. Again, it may be worth including some individuals who have been critical of the NGB, provided they can be constructive. If appropriate, workshops may also include one or two key external stakeholders or potential partners.
- They should be planned and led by someone who is not aligned with any constituent part of the NGB so that all present can see them as neutral with no particular axe to grind. This will often, although not necessarily, require an external facilitator.
- They should be held at a "neutral" venue, not associated with any specific part of the NGB (such as a hotel or University) so that participants will not be distracted or called away.
- The venue must be equipped with visual aids (at least a flip chart and whiteboard and possibly an overhead projector and screen) and space for the workshop to split into small groups from time to time.
A well planned and facilitated workshop is both stimulating and exhausting. It will tend to be most effective when all those present already know one another as this will save time on "ice-breaking". There must also be two ground rules, rigidly enforced by the facilitator:
- The workshop is concerned with the future, not the past: it should not go over old ground and re-visit old arguments
- There are no sacred cows: anything can be scrapped or changed
The key outcomes needed from the workshop are usually:
- A vision of what the NGB wishes itself to be like in the future
- A mission statement for the NGB designed to lead to the delivery of the vision
- The NGB's core values or principles on which the plan will be based
- A small number (no more than five or six, the fewer the better) of broad goals for the NGB, derived from the mission, each with a limited number of related measurable and time-related objectives
- Agreement on a limited number of programme or functional areas (again, no more than five or six) to which the various aims and objectives can be linked. These programme or functional areas will probably set the future structure of the NGB.
The agenda for the workshop will depend upon the NGB, but is normally likely to include:
- Introductions - make sure everyone knows one another
- Analysis report - review to agree key conclusions and key issues the plan must tackle
- SWOT analysis for the NGB
- Determine the vision for the future
- Determine the NGB's mission
- Identify desirable goals or outcomes, in order of priority
- Determine objectives to deliver the goals
- Identify programme areas
The workshop should be planned in such a way that all participants are encouraged by the facilitator to contribute and as a mixture of plenary and small group sessions.
"Man is limited not so much by his tools as by his vision"
Richard Pascale and Anthony Anthos, The Art of Japanese Management
The ultimate purpose of a strategic plan is to deliver a desirable future. Accordingly it is essential to decide, right at the outset, what that desirable future will be. This is the vision of a successful NGB. It is most easily determined by imagining the NGB as highly successful in 4-5 years time and then answering nine key questions:
- Why will the NGB be successful?
- What will "successful" mean?
- What will the NGB be doing?
- Who will be involved in the NGB?
- How will the NGB be operating?
- What would happen if the NGB disbanded?
- What will partners and the local community think or say about the NGB?
- What will the NGB actually be achieving?
- What differences will the NGB be making to its local area?
If possible, the vision should be distilled down to one or at most two reasonably short sentences with which everyone at the workshop agrees. The shorter the vision, the better, because then workshop participants - and ultimately everyone involved in the NGB- will remember it. A long-winded vision is easily forgotten and therefore ignored. In addition it must be must be realistic but also inspire. However, a vision statement that is hopelessly over-ambitious is likely to be laughed out of court. Equally, a turgid and conservative one will fail to generate enthusiasm.
For examples the Irish Sports Council vision sees Ireland as a country in which:
- Everyone is welcomed and valued in sport, irrespective of their ability and background
- Individuals can develop their sporting abilities and enjoyment, limited only by their talent and commitment
- Irish sportsmen and women achieve consistent world class performance, fairly
An organisation's mission statement sets out its fundamental purpose for existing - what it will do itself in order to deliver the vision it has set. Here are some examples:
- The Walt Disney Company: To make people happy
- Australian Sports Commission: To enrich the lives of all Australians through sport
- Hillary Commission: All New Zealanders participating and achieving in sport, fitness and leisure
- Irish Sports Council: To plan, lead and co-ordinate the sustainable development of sport in Ireland
The purpose of having a mission statement is to set out with absolute clarity what an organisation seeks to achieve. It can then be used to test proposals for any new programme or other initiative. If it will help to deliver the mission it can be pursued, subject to the availability of resources; if not, forget it. A mission statement should therefore be very powerful: not only should it set out what an organisation wants to achieve, but by implication it also identifies those things it will not do.
The key questions to consider when preparing a mission statement are usually:
- Why do we exist?
- What purpose do we aim to fulfil?
- Who are our primary targets?
- How do we intend to deliver our vision?
Like the vision, and for the same reason, short, simple mission statements are far better than long ones: Disney's four-word approach is therefore close to ideal. A good rule of thumb is never to include more than one "and", other than in phrases like "sport and recreation". If the NGB cannot set out its fundamental reason for existence in a single, tight sentence, either it doesn't really have a fundamental purpose or it's trying to do far too much. The more complex an organisation is, and the more diffuse its purpose, the more difficult it is to manage. In addition, its members and customers or clients will also find its purpose unclear. The mission of a shoe shop is to make a profit by selling shoes and as this is normally clear to customers they don't waste their own or assistants' time asking for books, flowers or whatever. A department store, comparatively speaking, is a management and customers' nightmare. This is one reason why many department stores have disappeared: they cannot compete effectively with tightly focused and more efficient speciality shops.
"In everything we do, we will promote best practice." More specifically:
- As sport has the potential to enrich the lives of everyone, no one should be excluded from it on the grounds of gender, disability, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. In all our work, therefore, we will promote inclusiveness.
- We will be an open, honest and accountable organisation, which seeks to base its decisions on objective evidence in preference to unsubstantiated opinions.
We all believe in a number of core values or principles - which guide the way we live our lives. Unfortunately not everyone believes in exactly the same things, which is of course one reason why we have political parties and arguments. The research leading to the production of Targeting Sporting Change in Ireland generated widespread agreement that the development of sport should encompass seven core principles:
- A people centred focus
- We will co-operate with and support other agencies and organisations that share our desire to promote sport and through it a better quality of life.
Building Sport for Life" The Irish Sports Council 's Strategy 2005-2008
To these must be added an ethical approach to sport - condemnation of drug abuse or other forms of cheating and a concern to safeguard the welfare of children. These principles, or core values, underpin the whole development of sport in Ireland. It is desirable for NGBs also to summarise their core values clearly as this will help to define the "organisational culture" within the NGB.
Key Goals and Objectives
There are likely to be a number of ways in which the NGB can set out to pursue its mission in order to achieve its vision. The workshop should try to identify a limited number of key goals, which will do this - five or six are usually ample. With more than this, the NGB's efforts and resources will have to be spread thinly and may achieve little. Goals do not have to be quantified but they must lead directly to the achievement of the vision and be compatible with the mission. The simplest way of identifying suitable goals is usually:
- Break the vision down into its constituent parts
- Decide what will have to be done to deliver each component of the vision; and
- Test each potential initiative or programme against the mission - is it our job to do this?
Once goals are agreed, it should be possible to set out the action, which will be needed to achieve them.
Finally, if there is time, the workshop should seek to allocate the various objectives to a series of "programme areas". Most NGBs will be able to identify a small number of programme areas such as:
- Club development
- Marketing and promotion
- Volunteers' and coaches' development and deployment
- Target groups
Step 4: Synthesis
The outcomes from the planning workshop set the overall direction of the NGB for the future. However, the workshop will almost certainly not have had the time to decide all the tasks, which will have to be undertaken, the resources which will be needed and who will be responsible for progressing each of them. This is done in Step 4, the Synthesis, the outcome of which will be the draft strategic plan.
Preparing the first draft of the plan is not a job for a committee: the result will be a camel rather than a horse. Instead, it is usually better to entrust the job to an individual. The individual will:
- Take the results of the workshop and put them down on paper in a structured and balanced way
- Flesh out the various objectives agreed at the workshop into a series of "action plans" based on appropriate tasks
The way in which the plan is structured will significantly affect the way it is used and therefore its effectiveness. It should be based on a hierarchical approach of:
- The NGB's vision and mission
- The NGB's core values
- What the NGB wants to achieve - its goals
- The NGB's specific objectives related to each of its goals
- An action plan for achieving each objective
4A: Mission, Vision, Core Values, Goals and Objectives
Immediately after the workshop, with agreement on the overall future direction of the NGB and a head of steam behind its emerging plan, there is perhaps a danger of going too fast for the organisation. The workshop participants may not in fact have been representative of the NGB in general and some key stakeholders will not have had the chance to influence the overall direction of the NGB and its plan. Before doing too much work on the plan, therefore, it will be desirable to check that it is on the right lines by inviting partners and the forum as appropriate, to comment on the proposed vision, mission, core values, goals and objectives. There are two key advantages to doing this before beginning to draft a detailed action plan:
- Key stakeholders will have the chance to comment on the plan at a time when it has clearly not yet been finalised, making them feel that they really do have a chance to influence it
- If changes are made, whoever is drafting the plan will not have done a lot of potentially abortive work
4B: The Draft Plan
Once responses have been received from key stakeholders, the Planning Team should either know that the plan is on the right lines or take account of the various comments made and amend the vision, mission, core values, goals and objectives as necessary. It can then get on with fleshing out the various objectives into an action plan.
There are various ways of setting out the appropriate actions to achieve a specific objective. What matters it that everything in the action plan should be SMART:
- Simple - so that everyone can understand it
- Measurable - because "what gets measured, gets done" and so the NGB can know whether a target has been achieved
- Agreed - by everyone involved in implementation
- Realistic - and therefore achievable with the resources and within the time available
- Time-limited - because setting a timescale and deadlines for something tends to lead to action
The best format to use is a tabular one, with a common format for the action plan under each objective. Suitable headings to use are:
- Proposed actions or tasks
- Starting point - the position at the start of the plan or year
- Performance indicators, what the NGB will use to measure progress, related to each of the proposed actions or tasks. There may be more than one performance indicator for any task
- Clear, measurable and time-limited targets, setting out what is to be achieved in relation to each performance indicator in each year of the plan
- Who will be responsible for progressing each of the various tasks
- The resources to be used or required
Once a first draft is available it should be reviewed by the Planning Team appointed in Step 1, although the membership of the team can of course be changed. This might happen if one or more members have resigned or the planning workshop has identified someone who is very keen to be involved.
The task of the Planning Team is to ensure the draft plan is comprehensive, balanced, realistic, achievable and likely to be acceptable to the NGB. This may require several drafts, although by the time the third or fourth draft is in being any further changes should be very minor. Alternatively, the NGB may need to set up one or more small short life working groups (with no more than 4 members) with a specific remit to oversee particular parts of the plan and then disband. However once the revision of the plan is approached, everything in it must always be tested against the agreed mission.
Step 5: Consultation and Adoption
A strategic plan which no-one knows about will never be a success. A key part of the strategic planning process is to foster "shared ownership" of the plan by all parts of the NGB. It is clearly impossible for every member of the NGB to be involved in the work of producing the plan, but they should have the opportunity to respond and comment when it is still in draft. There must therefore be a consultation phase before the plan is adopted by the NGB.
The first, informal consultation should be with the Irish Sports Council, for the simple reason that effective implementation of the plan will almost certainly depend on its support. Also, the Council will be able to give advice on the national policies for sports development and additionally share best practice from other NGBs currently involved in the planning process.
Thereafter, it will be vitally important to consult the full organisation. As the full draft plan is likely to be a fairly lengthy document, circulating a copy to every member could be expensive, particularly as some will not read it. A better approach is to prepare a short summary of no more than say 4 pages, setting out the vision, mission, broad goals and related objectives and an outline of the proposed action plan. This short update could be posted on the NGB's website. It will then be desirable to provide the opportunity for groups to comment on the plan.
Finally, the plan should be formally adopted by the NGB at a meeting of its forum called for the purpose. This is a vital component of promoting wide ownership of the plan and it also gives a clear mandate to those who will be responsible for implementing it.
Step 6: Implementation
If the plan is not implemented much of the time and effort spent preparing it will have been wasted. Moreover, if Irish Sports Council grant aid is linked to the plan, non-implementation may have implications for grant aid to the NGB from the Council in future years. For obvious reasons, it will usually be sensible to begin implementation of the plan at the start of a financial year.
In the case of NGBs an important part of the implementation process of the strategy will be the marketing and promotion of both it and the NGB itself. It is vital that the members and clubs are both aware of and involved in the work of the NGB in order for it to benefit the greatest number of members.
Implementation is best organised through annual action plans, prepared and budgeted in advance for each financial year. It is necessary to identify in these plans clear targets and key result areas. Targets set in the action plans should be realisable, specific, measurable and time-limited.
It is becoming more and more difficult to attract volunteers willing to be involved in administration at local level. Fortunately, the greater the clarity there is in the strategic plan relating to the various tasks the NGB wishes to progress, the less there is a need for large committees. Indeed, if an NGB has a comprehensive strategic plan it should be able to be effective with only a few, fairly small committees or short life working groups. As a general rule, there should be as few standing committees as possible, with specific tasks delegated, if necessary, to small short life working groups with a tightly defined remit. It is also more than likely that the strategic planning process will help to bring new people into the heart of the NGB as they come to know more about it and realise what it intends to do.
A key aspect of implementation is the control of money. It is therefore vital to design budgeting and accounting systems, which will ease implementation.
Finally, involving the NGB's members in approving the strategic plan should mean that they would want to be kept informed of progress and approve the board thrust of each annual action plan. Accordingly the Chairman of the Board of Directors should present a formal report to the forum each year setting out:
- A reminder of the plan's mission, goals and objectives
- A summary of the action plan approved the previous year
- A summary of the progress achieved in implementing the action plan, with an explanation of any changes made during the year
- A review of overall progress with implementation of their area(s) of the strategic plan to date
- Proposals for the next year's action plan
Step 7: Review
A comprehensive and inclusive planning process should result in a vision, mission and broad aims, which will remain valid and guide the work of the NGB for at least 3-5 years. A period of at least this length is required in order to allow the plan and those implementing it time to be effective.
"It is through co-operation, rather than conflict, that your greatest successes will be derived."
However, this does not mean that it should be set in tablets of stone. If it is, the NGB will not be able to learn from its successes and failures in implementing the plan as it goes along and this would not be productive. All strategic plans should therefore be subject to two forms of review:
- An annual "health check" to review progress, fine tune the plan and determine the action plan and budgets for the year ahead
- A complete review from first principles approximately every 5 years. The actual period will depend on the effectiveness of the plan and relate also to appropriate planning cycles for the NGB.