Over the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time with other organisations, either to explore partnership working or to support them in their work. Something I have found essential for this process to be effective is understanding and communicating succinctly what the organisation does and where it is going. You may think this is common sense, but I think it is something that needs reiterating once in a while, for those who may have veered off-track a little. All of this information should be available in the organisation’s strategic plan.
Within my previous roles I have taken the presence of a strategic plan for granted; it seemed to have little relevance to my day-to-day role. As Business Development Manager, my role now revolves around organisational planning, from perfecting my pitches to potential partners, to understanding and implementing where the organisation is going in the medium and long-term. Third sector organisations with ‘tight’ strategic plans are considerably more robust than those without. Plans needs to be straightforward and relevant. Employees and volunteers should then able to work to deliver these creating direction and purpose for the organisation.
An effective strategic plan will encompass every area of the organisation and be relevant to every employee’s day-to-day role. This is communicated to the public as, what has been dubbed by bigger private sector organisations a ‘Mission Statement’. This is an overarching summary of what the organisation wants to achieve. This is then broken-down into aims and then into objectives. Each of these should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, to all areas of the organisation. Monitoring the achievement of these aims and objectives varies somewhat depending on the organisation.
Most organisations monitor the achievements of their aims and objectives through data analysis. For example, using a number of different data sources to collate unemployment and business survival data to monitor work. Other places such as community centres monitor attendance rates on courses and feedback forms to measure the impact of their work. The data you collate can then be evaluated against your aims and objectives to ensure the organisation is heading in the right direction. This data can also be used when applying for funding and demonstrating the impact of your organisation.
Having access to organisational data frequently offers employees and volunteers an insight into how the organisation is performing and the positive impact being made. It allows organisations to work more effectively together. It also means you are able to be ‘tender ready’ should a funding opportunity present itself, relevant to the organisational aims.
Conclusion – Organisations are more successful when they have a clear directive and are able to evidence their need and purpose.