Education 4: Basics of strategic planning in culture

WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?

Strategic planning implies decision-making process defining change/s that organization

wants to achieve in a specific period. This process is established on identification of the best

ways for use of organizational resources in order to use the possibilities and reduce threats in

the environment.

Simply put, strategic planning is a management tool and as other management tools is used for one purpose — to assist organization in improving its work. Strategic planning can help organization to focus its vision and priorities in relation to its changeable environment and ensure that organization members work on realization of the same objectives. Strategic planning is a systematic process through which an organization accepts and strengthens commitment among key stakeholders with regard to priorities crucial for their mission and acceptable for the environment they work in. Strategic planning is carried out periodically. The duration of planning cycle is defined by many factors, including level of probability (certainty) in external environment, predictability of financial flows and level of experience.

WHAT IS A STRATEGIC PLAN?

Strategic plan is a result of strategic planning process and is usually adopted for a period of

three to five years, but it can relate to a longer period as well, which often depends on the social

circumstances. Strategic planning is means for leading and management. Well-conceived

strategic plan increases probability of everyday activities leading to desired effect. Planning

helps members of the organization to focus on real priorities, and enhances team work in

realization of these priorities. Strategic plan is most often considered a basic document of any

organization. Strategic development (plan) enables organizations to move from reactive to

proactive and planned development. It increases the ability of organizations to adapt to changes

in their environment and respond to their needs. It enables organizations to increase their

capacities for strategic thinking and acting in a more quality-like way.

WHY IS STRATEGIC PLANNING NECESSARY?

  • Encourages proactive approach to future
  • Improves results/succesfullness
  • Prevents excessive internal orientation and short-term thinking 
  • Resolves main issues on the highest level 
  • Communicates what is most important to everybody 

Strategic planning has to be implemented when organizations want to introduce new programs,

when they want to begin work in new environment, or when new phase of organizations’ work

is to begin under new circumstances. Strategic development (plan) enables organizations to

move from reactive to proactive and planned development.  It increases the ability of

organizations to adapt to changes in their environment and respond to their needs. It enables

organizations to increase their capacities for strategic thinking and acting in a more quality

like way.

LEVELS OF PLANNING IN CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS 

A part of strategic plan that is related to financial resources has to be implemented every year;

it is an annual financial plan prepared in accordance with defined objectives of the organization,

as well as fundraising plan. Annual operating plan (annual action plans) also have to be

prepared regardless of wider strategic plan.

Civil society organizations can carry out planning on several levels:

  1. Strategic planning implies setting up general orientations, policies and framework of organizations
  2. Operative planning implies identification of the most important consequences/impacts of strategic plans.
  3. Project planning  implies establishing a way in which objectives will be achieved by elements of operating plan
  4. Task planning implies deciding on the level of approach to specific project parts.

KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK AT PREPARATION OF STRATEGIC PLAN 

There are four questions that have to be answered in the strategic planning process:

  • Where are we now?

Assessment of the current state of organization (human, financial and operative resources)

  • Where do we need to be?

Future finish line

  • How can we bridge the gap? 

Strategic plan (time period)

  • How will we monitor our progress?

Evaluation

STEPS IN STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS

ORGANIZATION OF PROCESS                                                                                              

Strategic planning begins with conceivement of a plan, i.e. the process needs to be thought out before it is started and we need to know who will carry out SP? What is it that we need to do? How are we going to do it? How long is the planning period? The issues that will be covered by the plan need to be defined, preliminary pieces of information collected, such as e.g. current organization’s mission, primary objectives that are already in the stages of realization and other implemented plans. The scope of strategic plan has to be determined. Consensus among all the stakeholders taking part in planning process has to be reached and steps prepared and put in order.

ANALYSIS OF CURRENT CONDITION

STRENGTHSDisposable fundsSkills relevant for achievement of objectives Advantages in relation to other organizations Other internal advantages
OPPORTUNITIESChances in relation to policies and other stakeholdersFavourable trends (including laws and Croatian public policies) Events to your benefitOther opportunities
WEAKNESSESLack of resources (money, people, space)Lack of skills or human resources (in relation to set objectives) or organizational structure Weaknesses in relation to other organizationsTHREATSCapacities of other organizations that work with the same target groups (competition)Negative impact of public CompetitorsOther environment threats 

Strengths and weaknesses — internal resources (internal environment of organization)

Opportunities and threats – external resources (external environment of organization)

Pluses:

  • Understandable model
  • Applicable for all levels of organization

Minuses:

  • REQUIRES ANALYTICS AND CONCRETENESS 
  • HONESTY ABOUT OWN WEAKNESSES

STRATEGIC PLAN DEVELOPMENT (PREPARATION) 

STRATEGIC PLAN IMPLEMENTATION 

EVALUATION AND MONITORING 

GOOD STRATEGIC PLAN HAS TO

Identify critical areas of success, create balance between the state that an organization can

achieve and those that organization wants to achieve, include sufficiently long period for the

results to show themselves, to transfer the desired future and state in a visionary way, allow

and enable changes, make decisions on lower (operative) levels.

STRATEGIC PLANNING LIMITATIONS

Strategic planning is not a way of making decisions about future!

Strategic plan can neither resolve situations that represent a threat for organizations nor

anticipate changes that can happen in future. That is why a strategic plan is subject to

changes and has to allow for adjustments. 

STRATEGIC PLAN BASICS

MISSION

The mission statement is a statement about what an organization wants to look like. It is a

statement about the reasons for existence of organization, its beneficiaries and what the

organization wants to achieve in future. It replies to the question: Who we are and what do we

do? It expresses core values of organization. It has to reflect unique nature of organization that

differentiates it from all other organizations and it has to be short and direct.

VISION

The vision statement describes future that we want to reach, results we want to achieve,

provides direction and inspiration for organization’s goal setting. It replies to the question:

How does organization want to be perceived in future? It is an expression of desired future

state. It ensures long-term focus of organization and represents a challenge.

OBJECTIVES

Long-term or strategic goals are comprehensive statement about what organization wants to

achieve in the following three to five years. These objectives are focused on the most important

effects, improvements or results, and are of measurable nature. They describe target condition

in future and contribute to realization of vision and mission. They provide organization’s

strategic focus and a concrete person is entrusted with achievement of objectives. 

DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN OF OBJECTIVES

Key issues (6-8) that were identified through analysis process have to be transformed to

strategic objectives. The objectives have to ensure better results of organization and bridge the

gap.

TASKS

Tasks directly support the objectives and force organizations to act. The results must be

concrete enough to be quantified and measured. Tasks are realistic and achievable and

represent sharing of responsibility. They cover short period of time (calendar year, project),

while the objectives cover a longer one.

TARGET VALUES

Every measure (target) must have at least one target value. Measures encourage organization

to achieve better results and put focus on strategy.

EVALUATION 

It forces organization to view results from several perspectives and take into consideration

causal connections.

STRATEGIC PLAN

Document that is a result of strategic planning and consists of:

  • Key values of organization 
  • Working environment
  • Joint objectives and tasks
  • Internal human resources structure 
  • Activities
  • Marketing and promotion 
  • Organizational structure and memberships
  • Financing plan

WHAT IS A PROJECT?

A project is a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly specified objectives within a defined time-period and with a defined budget. 

(European Commission, PCM Guidelines, March 2004)

PROJECT CHARACTERISTICS

  • Defined date of commencement and completion 
  • Defined scope, final budget, specific end outcome and joined resources 
  • Unique outcome
  • Not a routine work 

Project is, above all, temporary and out-of-ordinary activity that is implemented for realization of a certain previously defined outcome. It is implemented only once and resolves one or several clearly identified problems.

WHY DO WE IMPLEMENT PROJECTS?

We implement projects in order to resolve certain problems or situations in an innovative way:

  • When it is necessary to fulfil the identified needs of specific target groups 
  • When social or economic change is required 
  • When institutional change is required 
  • When introduction of new work methods, programs, laws and policies, is necessary 

The basic content of every project are objectives or results, time frame for implementation of project activities and budget necessary for project implementation.

PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS

Applicant is any public or private legal person directly responsible for initiation,

management, implementation and achievement of project’s outcomes, preparation of project

proposal and submission of proposal to Call for Submission of Project Proposals, with the

objective of receiving co-financing for implementation of the project.

Lead partner is a successful applicant with whom the Grant Agreement is executed. It is

directly responsible for project commencement, management, implementation and outcomes.

The term lead partner implies, where applicable, lead partner and project partners. 

Partners are institutions, enterprises or organizations directly participating in

implementation of project activities they are entrusted with and are responsible to lead

partner. Their expenses are eligible

Associates are institutions, enterprises or organizations, that have interest in project

implementation, assist implementation, but do not take significant part in realization of

outcomes and are not entitled to expense refund (fee) during project implementation.

Sub-contractors are all experts, enterprises or organizations, that provide services, deliver goods or execute works during implementation of project for a fee.

Target groups are groups/entities under direct positive impact of a project on the level of project purpose.

Final beneficiaries are all those stakeholders having long-term benefits from a project, whether on the level of society or sector in general, but do not participate directly in the project implementation during project cycle. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROGRAM AND PROJECT 

Project = a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly specified objectives within a

defined time-period.

Program = set of projects in synergy, with objectives or purposes that contribute to common

joint objective of improvement of a situation in a particular sector, county, state, etc. 

PROJECT CYCLE MANAGEMENT

Project management is application of certain knowledges, skills, tools and techniques for

development and implementation of project activities in order to achieve project objectives. 

Project management includes:

  • Identification of demands and needs required from project implementation 
  • Establishment of clear and achievable project objectives
  • Good balance of quality, scope of work, time and expenses
  • Adjustment of approach and plans to demands and expectations 

Project management is application of certain knowledges, skills, tools and techniques for

development and implementation of project activities in order to achieve project objectives. 

In order to make project management easier, project is divided into several phases, that jointly

make a project cycle. The phases are successive, after one of them is completed, the conditions

for commencement of the next phase are fulfilled. Each of the phases has its outputs that have

to be delivered prior to commencement of the next phase.

Project cycle consists of the following phases:

  • Programming

Defining assistance strategy for each particular EU member state

  • Identification

Identification of concrete measures for the implementation of which EU funding is requested 

  • Formulation

Preparation of detailed project and tender documentation 

  • Financing

Financing decision

  • Implementation and monitoring

Project implementation

  • Evaluation

WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?

Strategic planning implies decision-making process defining change/s that organization

wants to achieve in a specific period. This process is established on identification of the best

ways for use of organizational resources in order to use the possibilities and reduce threats in

the environment.

Simply put, strategic planning is a management tool and as other management tools is used for one purpose — to assist organization in improving its work. Strategic planning can help organization to focus its vision and priorities in relation to its changeable environment and ensure that organization members work on realization of the same objectives. Strategic planning is a systematic process through which an organization accepts and strengthens commitment among key stakeholders with regard to priorities crucial for their mission and acceptable for the environment they work in. Strategic planning is carried out periodically. The duration of planning cycle is defined by many factors, including level of probability (certainty) in external environment, predictability of financial flows and level of experience.

WHAT IS A STRATEGIC PLAN?

Strategic plan is a result of strategic planning process and is usually adopted for a period of

three to five years, but it can relate to a longer period as well, which often depends on the social

circumstances. Strategic planning is means for leading and management. Well-conceived

strategic plan increases probability of everyday activities leading to desired effect. Planning

helps members of the organization to focus on real priorities, and enhances team work in

realization of these priorities. Strategic plan is most often considered a basic document of any

organization. Strategic development (plan) enables organizations to move from reactive to

proactive and planned development. It increases the ability of organizations to adapt to changes

in their environment and respond to their needs. It enables organizations to increase their

capacities for strategic thinking and acting in a more quality-like way.

WHY IS STRATEGIC PLANNING NECESSARY?

  • Encourages proactive approach to future
  • Improves results/succesfullness
  • Prevents excessive internal orientation and short-term thinking 
  • Resolves main issues on the highest level 
  • Communicates what is most important to everybody 

Strategic planning has to be implemented when organizations want to introduce new programs,

when they want to begin work in new environment, or when new phase of organizations’ work

is to begin under new circumstances. Strategic development (plan) enables organizations to

move from reactive to proactive and planned development.  It increases the ability of

organizations to adapt to changes in their environment and respond to their needs. It enables

organizations to increase their capacities for strategic thinking and acting in a more quality

like way.

LEVELS OF PLANNING IN CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS 

A part of strategic plan that is related to financial resources has to be implemented every year;

it is an annual financial plan prepared in accordance with defined objectives of the organization,

as well as fundraising plan. Annual operating plan (annual action plans) also have to be

prepared regardless of wider strategic plan.

Civil society organizations can carry out planning on several levels:

  1. Strategic planning implies setting up general orientations, policies and framework of

organizations.

  1. Operative planning implies identification of the most important consequences/impacts of strategic plans.
  1. Project planning  implies establishing a way in which objectives will be achieved by elements of operating plan.
  1. Task planning implies deciding on the level of approach to specific project parts.

KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK AT PREPARATION OF STRATEGIC PLAN 

There are four questions that have to be answered in the strategic planning process:

  • Where are we now?

Assessment of the current state of organization (human, financial and operative resources)

  • Where do we need to be?

Future finish line

  • How can we bridge the gap? 

Strategic plan (time period)

  • How will we monitor our progress?

Evaluation

STEPS IN STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS

ORGANIZATION OF PROCESS                                                                                              

Strategic planning begins with conceivement of a plan, i.e. the process needs to be thought out before it is started and we need to know who will carry out SP? What is it that we need to do? How are we going to do it? How long is the planning period? The issues that will be covered by the plan need to be defined, preliminary pieces of information collected, such as e.g. current organization’s mission, primary objectives that are already in the stages of realization and other implemented plans. The scope of strategic plan has to be determined. Consensus among all the stakeholders taking part in planning process has to be reached and steps prepared and put in order.

ANALYSIS OF CURRENT CONDITION

STRENGTHSDisposable fundsSkills relevant for achievement of objectives Advantages in relation to other organizations Other internal advantages
OPPORTUNITIESChances in relation to policies and other stakeholdersFavourable trends (including laws and Croatian public policies) Events to your benefitOther opportunities
WEAKNESSESLack of resources (money, people, space)Lack of skills or human resources (in relation to set objectives) or organizational structure Weaknesses in relation to other organizationsTHREATSCapacities of other organizations that work with the same target groups (competition)Negative impact of public CompetitorsOther environment threats 

Strengths and weaknesses — internal resources (internal environment of organization)

Opportunities and threats – external resources (external environment of organization)

Pluses:

  • Understandable model
  • Applicable for all levels of organization

Minuses:

  • REQUIRES ANALYTICS AND CONCRETENESS 
  • HONESTY ABOUT OWN WEAKNESSES

STRATEGIC PLAN DEVELOPMENT (PREPARATION) 

STRATEGIC PLAN IMPLEMENTATION 

EVALUATION AND MONITORING 

GOOD STRATEGIC PLAN HAS TO

Identify critical areas of success, create balance between the state that an organization can

achieve and those that organization wants to achieve, include sufficiently long period for the

results to show themselves, to transfer the desired future and state in a visionary way, allow

and enable changes, make decisions on lower (operative) levels.

STRATEGIC PLANNING LIMITATIONS

Strategic planning is not a way of making decisions about future!

Strategic plan can neither resolve situations that represent a threat for organizations nor

anticipate changes that can happen in future. That is why a strategic plan is subject to

changes and has to allow for adjustments. 

STRATEGIC PLAN BASICS

MISSION

The mission statement is a statement about what an organization wants to look like. It is a

statement about the reasons for existence of organization, its beneficiaries and what the

organization wants to achieve in future. It replies to the question: Who we are and what do we

do? It expresses core values of organization. It has to reflect unique nature of organization that

differentiates it from all other organizations and it has to be short and direct.

VISION

The vision statement describes future that we want to reach, results we want to achieve,

provides direction and inspiration for organization’s goal setting. It replies to the question:

How does organization want to be perceived in future? It is an expression of desired future

state. It ensures long-term focus of organization and represents a challenge.

OBJECTIVES

Long-term or strategic goals are comprehensive statement about what organization wants to

achieve in the following three to five years. These objectives are focused on the most important

effects, improvements or results, and are of measurable nature. They describe target condition

in future and contribute to realization of vision and mission. They provide organization’s

strategic focus and a concrete person is entrusted with achievement of objectives. 

DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN OF OBJECTIVES

Key issues (6-8) that were identified through analysis process have to be transformed to

strategic objectives. The objectives have to ensure better results of organization and bridge the

gap.

TASKS

Tasks directly support the objectives and force organizations to act. The results must be

concrete enough to be quantified and measured. Tasks are realistic and achievable and

represent sharing of responsibility. They cover short period of time (calendar year, project),

while the objectives cover a longer one.

TARGET VALUES

Every measure (target) must have at least one target value. Measures encourage organization

to achieve better results and put focus on strategy.

EVALUATION 

It forces organization to view results from several perspectives and take into consideration

causal connections.

STRATEGIC PLAN

Document that is a result of strategic planning and consists of:

  • Key values of organization 
  • Working environment
  • Joint objectives and tasks
  • Internal human resources structure 
  • Activities
  • Marketing and promotion 
  • Organizational structure and memberships
  • Financing plan

WHAT IS A PROJECT?

A project is a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly specified objectives within a defined time-period and with a defined budget. 

(European Commission, PCM Guidelines, March 2004)

PROJECT CHARACTERISTICS

  • Defined date of commencement and completion 
  • Defined scope, final budget, specific end outcome and joined resources 
  • Unique outcome
  • Not a routine work 

Project is, above all, temporary and out-of-ordinary activity that is implemented for realization of a certain previously defined outcome. It is implemented only once and resolves one or several clearly identified problems.

WHY DO WE IMPLEMENT PROJECTS?

We implement projects in order to resolve certain problems or situations in an innovative way:

  • When it is necessary to fulfil the identified needs of specific target groups 
  • When social or economic change is required 
  • When institutional change is required 
  • When introduction of new work methods, programs, laws and policies, is necessary 

The basic content of every project are objectives or results, time frame for implementation of project activities and budget necessary for project implementation.

PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS

Applicant is any public or private legal person directly responsible for initiation,

management, implementation and achievement of project’s outcomes, preparation of project

proposal and submission of proposal to Call for Submission of Project Proposals, with the

objective of receiving co-financing for implementation of the project.

Lead partner is a successful applicant with whom the Grant Agreement is executed. It is

directly responsible for project commencement, management, implementation and outcomes.

The term lead partner implies, where applicable, lead partner and project partners. 

Partners are institutions, enterprises or organizations directly participating in

implementation of project activities they are entrusted with and are responsible to lead

partner. Their expenses are eligible

Associates are institutions, enterprises or organizations, that have interest in project

implementation, assist implementation, but do not take significant part in realization of

outcomes and are not entitled to expense refund (fee) during project implementation.

Sub-contractors are all experts, enterprises or organizations, that provide services, deliver goods or execute works during implementation of project for a fee.

Target groups are groups/entities under direct positive impact of a project on the level of project purpose.

Final beneficiaries are all those stakeholders having long-term benefits from a project, whether on the level of society or sector in general, but do not participate directly in the project implementation during project cycle. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROGRAM AND PROJECT 

Project = a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly specified objectives within a

defined time-period.

Program = set of projects in synergy, with objectives or purposes that contribute to common

joint objective of improvement of a situation in a particular sector, county, state, etc. 

PROJECT CYCLE MANAGEMENT

Project management is application of certain knowledges, skills, tools and techniques for

development and implementation of project activities in order to achieve project objectives. 

Project management includes:

  • Identification of demands and needs required from project implementation 
  • Establishment of clear and achievable project objectives
  • Good balance of quality, scope of work, time and expenses
  • Adjustment of approach and plans to demands and expectations 

Project management is application of certain knowledges, skills, tools and techniques for

development and implementation of project activities in order to achieve project objectives. 

In order to make project management easier, project is divided into several phases, that jointly

make a project cycle. The phases are successive, after one of them is completed, the conditions

for commencement of the next phase are fulfilled. Each of the phases has its outputs that have

to be delivered prior to commencement of the next phase.

Project cycle consists of the following phases:

  • Programming

Defining assistance strategy for each particular EU member state

  • Identification

Identification of concrete measures for the implementation of which EU funding is requested 

  • Formulation

Preparation of detailed project and tender documentation 

  • Financing

Financing decision

  • Implementation and monitoring

Project implementation

  • Evaluation

Evaluation of project achievements

_______________
Cover photo: Island Movement

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