In addition to the institutional strategic planning process, all administrative units must also engage in active planning and assessment practices that, while aligning with the WCJC goals, provides a clear roadmap for operational advancements specific to that division. Due to the specificity of these unit plans, the planning timeframe is abbreviated from a five-year to a three-year timeframe, allowing for enhanced agility within the planning process.
Upon initiating the planning process, each unit must first conduct a comprehensive self-study in order to conduct a holistic evaluation of current processes, procedures, and policies. Self-studies are conducted in the months preceding the development of a new strategic plan and provide a structured method for identifying strengths and weaknesses within a division. The self-study process serves as the informational foundation from which a strategic plan is built, allowing for thoughtful conversations to evolve into actionable strategies for improvement.
Unit self-studies must include (at minimum) the following information:
- A review of the most recent Unit Assessment Plan and Assessment Reports.
- A description of the primary services offered within the unit and the operational processes in place to address each service.
- Identification of services that should/should not be offered within the unit and justification as to why.
- Current resource allocations (Note: resources include staff, space, equipment, knowledge/skills, and funds).
- Comprehensive SWOT analysis.
- Summary of input from key stakeholders.
Following completion of the self-study, a summary report should be submitted to the respective Vice President for that unit, as well as the VPPIE, for review and input prior to the initiation of the development of the unit strategic plan.
Unit Assessment Plans
At the beginning of each three-year cycle, administrative units must develop and submit for approval their Unit Assessment Plan. All Unit Assessment Plans must follow a standard template, developed by the VPPIE and approved by the President, to ensure consistency of planning efforts across the institution. All components of the planning template have been included based on best practices in the area of assessment and to help units develop robust plans that support the accomplishment of institutional goals along with unit-specific ones.
- Mission: A statement detailing the shared purpose of the division and those activities and individuals necessary to the fruition of that purpose. The mission statement for a unit should be written as a set of priorities shared by members of that unit.
- Goals:Those end results which, when brought together, allow for a unit to achieve its overarching mission. Goals are generally written as broad statements that describe what the organization wants to accomplish.
- Outcomes: Statements that “detail the activities that must be completed to achieve the goal”.
Outcomes, sometimes called objectives, should be clear and concise statements that
follow a SMART outline:
- Specific: An outcome must include all relevant details regarding what is to be accomplished.
- Measureable: An outcome must be able to be evaluated and linked to targets of achievement.
- Achievable: An outcome must be realistically able to be accomplished, given the resources available and current climate within a given unit/population.
- Relevant: An outcome must align with the goal that it has been identified to support. In other words, achievement of an outcome should put a unit one step closer to accomplishing its goals.
- Timely: An outcome should have a timeline for completion.
- Strategies: Detailed and distinct steps that lead to the accomplishment of a given outcome. Strategies should serve as milestones to help a unit track progress toward a given task and allow for in-the-moment monitoring of outcome completion. It is important to remember that strategies are the namesake of the strategic plan.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics which allow for analysis of performance and progress. Each outcome should have a distinct set of associated KPIs to help in determining whether that outcome has been achieved or not. KPIs ultimately provide the findings which indicate efficacy and efficiency within a unit; however, when developing a plan, it is important that the number of KPIs included is manageable. More data does not always result in a better plan.
- Targets: The level of performance set for each KPI against which results can be compared.
Targets must be in place to set the standard for outcome completion, as well as to
indicate the efficiency and efficacy of a strategy. Targets may be set using:
- Internal benchmarks: Data based on previous performance within the unit.
- External benchmarks: Data based on national standards or peer-institution performance.
A comprehensive set of guidelines pertaining to unit assessment can be found here.