Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

5 Tips for Strategic Planning in 2014

ARCHIVES
Gajus/Shutterstock.com

Let’s face it, finishing year-end tasks and finding enough time to strategically plan for next year requires discipline. Across town, forward thinking consultants are meeting with clients to discuss performance expectations and important dates to mark on calendars. Perhaps the most important use of these conversations is to remind clients that overall performance in pursuit of future goals tends to settle in and develop over a period of months, not weeks. Why? Governments are operating in environments of constant change, which directly affects the collective fed-contractor chemistry required to tackle, adjust and execute most all strategic planning goals.

Given this environment, future scenario planning will help you reach your strategic planning outcomes. Faced with several potential futures, it is important to know how your organization will be positioned to mitigate risk, meet deadlines, manage communications and allocate resources.

To better understand how the future is unfolding against your goals, the following steps will help your team manage change and exceed performance expectations:

1. Follow congressional developments. Follow the upcoming votes by House and Senate lawmakers to pass a budget deal and avoid another government shutdown. Tracking legislative outcomes and holding cross-organizational planning meetings now will help your team prioritize 2014 goals. Throughout the year, monitor committee hearings and trade association Hill days that support the mission of your office; this will help you better understand how Congress works and what information is needed in future legislative outreach planning.

2. Project-plan your work; know your budgets, bandwidth and deadlines. Projects can be unpredictable, and planning for certain inevitabilities is vital to maintaining progress. Proper risk management practices, such as establishing budget reserves and building in lag times for delays, should be implemented at the onset to provide contingencies in case projects go off course because of unforeseen changes with budgets, schedules or scope.

3. Track stakeholder events and coordinate calendars with colleagues. With stricter travel guidelines and budgets, it can be a difficult and long process to secure approval to attend targeted events. Developing a calendar of events with deadlines for submitting speaking engagement abstracts, reserving exhibit space and booking travel will ensure your team has adequate time to submit such requests. Outreach calendars also improve information sharing and collaboration, enabling projects to use limited resources wisely and avoid duplication when engaging key voices.

4. Plan ahead for staffing level changes. Whether it’s at the client or contractor level, sometimes the most dramatic changes happen when new employees are brought into an organization. Future scenario planning provides common understanding for what is required in this situation. New federal staff often requires briefing materials, for example, while the addition of contractor staff requires an onboarding window. Prepare a checklist now to be ahead of the curve.

5. Foster a culture where future scenario planning is part of routine day-to-day business. Incorporating future scenario planning into team meetings and other collaboration platforms will bring your team together around important goals and contingency planning discussions. It is during these sessions that you’ll exchange questions, share client feedback, and consider options you may never have thought about before. Lastly, cataloging lessons learned from past projects and staying in contact with users who can provide feedback on changing needs from the field is critical to managing expectations when change is constant.

In short, future scenario planning becomes one of your most important tools for communicating with your colleagues and stakeholder partners. Future posts in the New Year will focus on the specific requirements, including how to update strategic communications plans that respond to changing environments. The hope is you will find this discussion helpful and that it plays a small role in your continued success. Let us know if future scenario planning worked for you.

(Image via Gajus/Shutterstock.com)

Dan Conway is a principal at Corner Alliance, a Washington-based consulting firm. An expert in public engagement, Dan works with public and private sector communities to develop strategic planning and communications goals that increase collaboration and support for multiple initiatives. Before consulting, he worked with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Follow him on Twitter at @conwaydt

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.