Northern Illinois University

Strategic Planning Task Force

Strategic Planning Reporting Template

To promote a shared discourse on strategic planning, we recommend that the development of strategic plans at the unit level should be organized according to a common structure, and employ a common lexicon.  The structure we recommend operates on a hierarchy of planning levels, from imperatives to goals to strategies to action steps.  A more detailed reporting template will be developed and distributed, but in outline, the template will contain the following elements:

  1. The imperatives are set forth in section II of the Strategic Planning Imperatives document, and inform all university strategic planning.

  2. Each unit will define a series of goals.  These are outcomes that the unit seeks to achieve that will address the university imperatives.  A goal may be shared to multiple units, and may address multiple imperatives. 

  3. As many goals will seek outcomes that reach across unit boundaries, the same goal may be shared by multiple units.  The champions for that goal must be identified, including both the person or unit with primary responsibility, and those who will be actively partnering with them.

  4. Each goal will be achieved by a series of strategies.  That is, goals can be thought of as the ends or outcomes, and strategies as the means or processes used to achieve those ends.  A strategy represents a coherent set of action steps that, when executed successfully, will achieve (or make substantial progress towards) the goal.  There may be multiple strategies that can be pursued independently.  The elements of a strategy should include:

    1. Timeline:  what are the action steps, who will be responsible for each, and when will they be accomplished?
    2. Requisites:  what is needed to successfully implement the strategy?  This may include both resources (personnel, funding) and policy changes that may be needed for the strategy to be implemented.

  5. Each goal must have associated with it a clear evaluation plan.  The evaluation plan sets forth the process that will be used to determine if the goal has been achieved.  This should include (but is not limited to):

    1. Quantifiable performance indicators (numerical quantities that can be compared across time, across units or across institutions).
    2. Milestones (key steps in the process of implementation whose completion can track progress towards achieving the goal).
    3. A summary process that integrates quantitative and qualitative indicators of success to give a nuanced understanding of the outcomes produced in relation to the outcomes originally sought.

  6. Finally, as we will inevitably have more good ideas than we can immediately implement, each goal must be given a priority.  Goals should be categorized as:

    1. Immediate:  goals that can be readily achieved, with minimal requirements in time or resources.
    2. High:  goals that require significant investment of time, effort or resources, and which are determined to be most deserving of that investment.
    3. Long Term:  goals that require substantial policy changes or require significant investment of time and resources, and which may be eventually  pursued if appropriate opportunities arise.