There are certain components of the strategic planning process that should be in place to develop, implement, and effectively monitor a strategic plan. This article provides a brief overview of the steps involved in strategic planning.

The first component is preparing for the strategic planning session. Prior to engaging in strategic planning, the organization should conduct a SWOTT analysis. The SWOTT is a tool that is used to solicit input and feedback from internal and external stakeholders as to what they would consider to be strengths and weaknesses of the organization, what opportunities and threats may help or hinder the organization, and what trends could impact the organization's mission and viability.

In addition to conducting the survey, the organization should decide who it wants present at the strategic planning session. Generally, planning sessions involve the organization's board of directors and executive director, and often the organization's management team. However, organizations could invite external stakeholders, such as vendors and collaborative partners, if they feel it would be beneficial to involve and solicit input from a larger group of stakeholders.

In its preparatory work, the organization should also decide, among other things, when and where the event will be held, who the facilitator will be, and which documents and equipment will be needed to ensure a successful planning session. A checklist, itemizing every task that needs to be taken care of prior to the strategic planning session, should be developed and used each time the organization decides to engage in strategic planning.

The second component is conducting the actual strategic planning session. Prior to commencement of the planning session, the group should adopt a set of ground rules they will adhere to, in order to make the session run smoothly and to ensure the development of a plan that best meets the needs of the clients and organization.

After the ground rules are established, a pre-determined process should be in place to review and discuss SWOTT analysis results; previous planning goals and objectives that were not completed, and whether or not the organization should incorporate these items in its next plan; and the organization’s current and future needs. All areas that need to be addressed should be listed. Then through a voting process, the organization’s priorities should emerge. Focusing on the top priorities, a draft strategic plan should be developed.

The plan template should identify the organization’s goals, each goal’s objectives, the person or persons responsible for each objective, the deadline for completion of each objective, dollars allocated to each objective (if applicable), and a comments section for notes. Objectives should be well-defined, specific, measurable, and time limited. Reference is often made to SMAART goals, meaning your objectives should be specific, measurable, aggressive, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound. The draft plan should be finalized by a Strategic Planning Monitoring Committee, consisting of board and staff members.

The third component is monitoring and revising the final strategic plan, as needed. There should be some type of committee in place to monitor the strategic plan on a regular basis. It should consist of board and staff members, who meet monthly or every other month. This committee should assess the progress of each goal and objective. If a goal or objective needs to be modified or deleted, or a new goal or objective needs to be added, the committee should discuss these matters and make a recommendation to the full board of directors. This committee should also be responsible for communicating the plan's progress to all stakeholders.

Although this article has only provided a brief overview of the steps involved in strategic planning, it highlights the importance of preparing for the strategic planning meeting, conducting the planning session in a manner that flushes out the organization's top priorities, and monitoring the final strategic plan on an ongoing basis to ensure that its goals and objectives are accomplished in a timely manner. These strategic planning components are essential to move the organization forward.

Copyright 2010 © Sharon L. Mikrut, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

If you want to make positive changes in your professional life, and create the job or career you desire and deserve, then working with Executive & Life Coach, Sharon L. Mikrut, is the solution. Although her specialty is in partnering with nonprofit executive directors and managers to maximize their resources in a competitive environment, she is passionate about working with all individuals committed to personal and/or professional growth. Visit her website (, Nonprofit Professionals blog (, or Empowerment blog ( and sign up for her free nonprofit or life coaching newsletter.