The Importance of Planning

As Fulton-Montgomery Community College begins the process of developing its next strategic plan (as our current plan ends at the conclusion of this academic year), I have been reflecting on the importance of a good plan for any organization.

What is a strategic plan? I believe that a strategic plan is a document that provides an organization a roadmap for the future. It is a plan that serves to set the overall direction in which the organization is going, providing goals and objectives as to how to get there. In its development, the organization assesses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It takes a comprehensive look at the external environment and assesses its own challenges. By setting specific goals and objectives, it outlines what an organization is going to do to grow, address challenges, improve its operations, and meet the needs of its customers/clients. A strategic plan is very important for every organization and business.

If these plans are so important, why do so many organizations go without them? Some folks say that they are too busy running their operation/business to develop a strategic plan. Some leaders say that "the plan is in my head." Some don't know how to develop a plan, while others don't see the need for a plan -- and the reasons go on and on. I think that all of these reasons are a mistake.

The process of developing a plan may be just as important as the plan itself. If done well, developing the plan involves a variety of people from the organization along with members of the community, customers/clients, and anyone else that touches an organization. All of this input can provide leaders with great feedback about the organization.

When completed, the plan communicates the organization's future to the entire organization; helps to get everyone working in the same direction; and, provides the organization's goals and objectives against which it can measure its progress. These are all important in today's competitive environment.

While implementing the strategic plan at FM, the Leadership Team regularly goes through the plan, documenting what we have accomplished, what is in progress, what still needs to get done, and what we might need to change. This helps keep us on track.

Did I say "change" a strategic plan? I did. Our strategic plan is created every five-years, but we can't possibly know everything about what the next five years will bring. Sometimes with new information, changing resources, dynamic political environments, and a fluctuating economy, some things we thought we needed to do, might not seem important -- or possible -- while other things we didn't plan might become critical to our operation. A strategic plan is a road map; sometimes you need to take a detour.

I encourage every organization, government agency, and business to develop their plan for the future. If you are stuck on how to do it, there are consultants and classes that can show you how to get started. Good planning makes great organizations, and great organizations make great communities.

FM is happy to be in our community, and happy to help contribute to its growth.