Office of the CFO Strategic Planning Process
There is no one model of strategic planning. These processes differ by organization. Our strategic planning process began early in the year (Jan/Feb), for several reasons:
1st, Strategy drives budget. Before we could build our budget – which was due in April – we needed to know what our priorities would be for this year so that we could align our budget accordingly.
2nd, Establishing priorities takes time. It involves making trade-off decisions. These decisions are made based on data which needs to be gathered, analyzed and discussed.
3rd, it is important to have your strategic plan finalized by the end of the fiscal year so that you can communicate your new priorities with the start of the new fiscal year.
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) followed the seven steps below in their process which led to our OGSP, a one page strategic plan which articulates our objectives, goals, strategies, and plans.
Step 1: Define Your Objective: To establish our objective, we needed to ask ourselves “What does success look like for the OCFO?” and “Where do we want to be in the future?” These questions guide subsequent decisions and determine the strategy selection. Only after you have defined your objective or vision will you be able to begin formulating a strategy to achieve it. The Office of the CFO’s leadership team participated in a vision setting exercise to help create an image of what success looks like.
Step 2: Define Your Strategy: Once we established the objective, we identified our five key strategies or areas of focus necessary to attain our objective. The CFO leadership team assessed our current position, identified issues to address (via campus unit feedback), opportunities, weaknesses, challenges, and so forth. Once this analysis was completed, we were able to determine a course of action. Whereas the objective is static and less likely to change, the strategies generally encompass 3-5 years because it is difficult to predict opportunities, risks, and trends beyond that.
Step 3: Prioritize Key Initiatives to Support Your Strategy: Once we defined our key strategies, it was time to identify initiatives that would support these strategies and help us achieve our overall objective. We conducted an OCFO-wide strategic planning retreat to kick-off this step. During this retreat each OCFO unit’s leadership team came together to discuss and prioritize potential initiatives. We took the following steps:
- Each unit identified potential initiatives for the year
- Each unit then performed a high-level analysis on the initiatives and their unit’s capacity to undertake them, using the following criteria:
- the return on investment of each initiative
- money and effort required
- whether it could be implemented with current resources or needed additional resources
- interdependencies with other units
- team resource capacity analysis to identify how much time and effort their team has available to work on initiatives compared with the effort required to perform the initiatives
- Units made trade-off decisions and selected key priorities for this year.
Step 4: Align your Financial and Human Resources:
- To effectively implement your strategy and priorities, you have to adequately support and fund it. The analysis conducted in Step 3 assisted us with identifying how much our prioritized initiatives would cost, how much we can absorb with our existing resources and whether we needed to request additional funding.
- Along with prioritizing the initiatives, we assigned owners to each one who are responsible for executing the initiative.
Step 5: Document your Strategy using the OGSP One Page Strategic Plan:
We updated our strategic plan with our new key initiatives. Documenting priorities in a strategic plan is important because it means we can establish expectations with our campus partners, and create clarity and focus for CFO team members. Accessible documentation of priorities means the people within the OCFO are aligned with common goals.
Step 6: Cascade your Strategy:
Next we communicated our strategy and priorities to ensure staff were aware of them so that they are able to contribute to them. We communicated our strategic plan in the following ways:
- Each unit’s strategic plan was published on our website. http://cfo.berkeley.edu/ogsp
- Each CFO leader cascaded their strategic plan through their unit in various ways to ensure the staff keep them in mind as they go through their day-to-day work.
- We dedicated our first FY16 CFO town hall meeting, with approximately 200-300 staff, to reviewing our strategic plan. During the town hall meeting, we had breakout sessions designed to dig deeper into each of our five key strategies to help our staff understand what the strategy means, why it was chosen, how it is going to help us be successful and what they can do to support it. http://cfo.berkeley.edu/townhall
Step 7: Execute & Monitor and Control Strategic Plan:
Once your strategic plan has been developed it needs to be executed, monitored and controlled. Monitoring the implementation of the plan means that we can verify our efforts conform to the plan, we are performing the actions we intended, we are on track, and if we’re off track, we can take steps to correct it.
We implemented the following best practices to ensure successful execution of our strategic plan:
- Each unit developed a project plan for their initiatives. This project plan encompassed the work (deliverables) associated with the initiative, showed which resources are assigned to each of the tasks and when they need to start and finish. The project plan is used to deploy the initiative on time and is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure tasks are completed as planned.
- We implemented a monthly OCFO status report process. Each month all OCFO units provide an update on their initiative’s current status and accomplishments, highlighting any major issues. These status reports are then reviewed with the CFO in their 1:1.
- In addition, we implemented OCFO wide OGSP progress check-ins every quarter. During these check-ins, each unit provides an update on their initiatives, reviews what it had planned to accomplish in the quarter, what it actually accomplished, and whether the project is on track for completion.
Resources and Links included in this post:
- CFO’s Updated Strategic Plan: http://cfo.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/ocfo_ogsp.pdf
- One Page Solutions’ 1-Page Strategic Plan: https://berkeley.box.com/one-page-strategic-plan
- Proposed Prioritized Initiatives: https://berkeley.box.com/Proposed-Prioritized
- Proposed De-Prioritized Initiatives: https://berkeley.box.com/Proposed-Deprioritized
- Sample Quarterly Check-in Form: https://berkeley.box.com/OGSP-Quarterly-Check-in