Back See this section in context: Criterion 2 Core Component 2B
2B.1: Planning System Includes Measures
Traditionally, Sauk’s annual report was a summary of all of its activities and accomplishments with minimal reference to the Strategic Plan. In FY07, it was restructured to focus on the status of achieving the Strategic Plan, with most information coming from Operational Plan Reports (Appendix). When used in this way, some weaknesses of the strategic and operational planning processes surfaced:
- There was overlap among Strategic Goals and Initiatives, and some were more tactical than strategic.
- There were common weaknesses in how groups entered information into the Operational Plan Template: some of the planned activities were unrelated to any Strategic Goals or Initiative; some of the outcomes lacked measurement; and some of the measurements did not relate to an objective.
- The action plans from assessment activities and program reviews often were not documented in the Operational Plan. In essence, the college had multiple planning systems, but no way of determining if the Strategic Goals had been achieved.
As Strategic Planning was revised, the identified weaknesses were corrected, and various other processes were streamlined and combined to link results so that they work together toward achieving the Strategic Plan:
- The program review process was revised: assessment was included as a component of program review, and the tasks identified to improve the program were included in the Operational Plan. The Program Review Guidelines were modified to clearly align with the Strategic Plan and to demonstrate how each program contributed toward achieving the Strategic Plan.
- The operational planning process was organized around the Strategic Directions, with employees challenged to identify concrete, measurable results and to avoid generalized abstract results. In addition, the process concludes with areas evaluating their results as they begin making new plans for the next year.
- In order to improve the ability of OPIC and the Board to measure progress toward achieving the Strategic Goals and Objectives, five institutional key performance indicators (KPI) were identified and added to the Strategic Directions (Appendix). The results of the FY11 Operational Plans should be more easily evaluated against these measurable benchmarks than previous plans.
The linking of processes has resulted in a single planning system which is designed to measure outcomes and progress toward achieving the Mission. At the time of the self-study, much of the current assessment of progress is based on anecdotal evidence about achieving Strategic Goals from the FY07 Strategic Plan. However, a couple of these Strategic Goals were measurably achieved, as illustrated by the following examples:
- Strategic Initiative 1.2 - Develop and expand programs: Between FY07 and FY09, 12 new degree and certificate programs have been created.
- Strategic Initiative 2.1 - Financially manage the college so an operating surplus occurs on an annual basis: Sauk has generated annual surpluses since FY07, increasing the operating fund balance from $650,000 to $3,150,000.
Sauk learned many lessons from the FY07-10 Strategic Plan regarding the clarity of stating planned activities and tracking outcomes, which have been integrated into the new system.