Developing a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is the process that determines where an organization is going over a specified period of time and how it is going to get there. It is an important process that helps the chapter prioritize activities, allocate resources and meet member needs. Some benefits of strategic planning include:
  • Aligns leaders with honor society goals
  • Defines clear measures for success
  • Demonstrates how resources will be utilized
  • Increases commitment to developing honor society
  • Enhances the value of a membership
Implementing the strategic plan is not the work of just one person or one committee. Strategic planning takes a T.E.A.M. Not everyone has to participate equally or even throughout the entire process, BUT everyone should have a part in somewhere in the process.
  • The president should drive development and implementation of the plan
  • Executive board members should be involved
  • A member at-large or small sub-committee should serve as a representative of the honor society’s membership
  • Multiple representatives from committees and task forces will ultimately carry out the plan
While considering your goals, assemble your team, brainstorm and discuss goals that best meet your honor society’s and members’ needs. Decide on realistic short-term goals (as an honor society), realistic long-term goals (as an official Sigma chapter), and which ideas should be tabled for the long-term. Consider:
  • The honor society’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges
  • Your available resources
  • Who does the honor society serve?
  • What are some of the members’ unique characteristics or demographics?
  • What do they value about the honor society?
  • What do members expect from the honor society?
  • What are members’ interests? How can we assess members’ needs, expectations, and interests?
  • Members will ask: “What’s in it for me?” “Is this membership worth the money?” (How do you proactively shape their answers before they ask these types of questions?)
  • What priorities should be set to advance the prospective chapter and meet the needs of its members?
  • Creating an action plan and timeline for each goal set

The Action Plan: Executing Your Plan

Once you have decided on your goals, you will want to create your action plan. In doing so, you should:
  • Designate the strategic area: leadership, communication, recruitment, retention, programming,etc.
  • Enter the priority goal
  • List the Action Items to accomplish the goal
  • Identify who is responsible for that goal and who can help
  • Estimate what financial resources will be needed to carry out each goal
  • Establish a timeline for each action item and the goal itself
  • Identify the result or outcomes to measure if your goal will be accomplished
Aligning the Budget with Your Goals

Once you have an action plan you will need to evaluate how closely it is aligned with your budget. This is an important and ongoing task.As you operate throughout the year you might notice that your action plan and/or budget needs to be reviewed and revised. Don’t be afraid to make changes or shift priorities if there is a change in your goals, financial situation, leadership, or membership. As you review and revise, you will discover new information and interest-points that will help you strengthen the connection between your budget and action plan.
Within the action plan you should have already identified the time and resources needed to support each item. Next, you will estimate the costs associated with these action items and then compare it to the available budget.
As you go through this process, you will want to consider all options and then determine how you will need to evaluate or re-evaluate the action items, timeline and resources to stay within budget. Your evaluation tools might consist of:
  • Previous goals/strategic plans
  • Membership retention rates
  • Invitation acceptance rates
  • Membership demographics
  • Membership dues (income) available
You can also evaluate your membership satisfaction and use the data from past events surveys to gauge how well it was received, if it made a profit and what kind of feedback you received.
The Ongoing Strategic Plan
This first action plan is actually your developing honor society’s first strategic plan. As you continue to grow and develop as a developing honor society, you will want to visit your action plan often to track your progress and make adjustments.The developing honor society’s leadership should create a strategic plan for each fiscal year.Pending approval for chapter status, the developing honor society will transition into an official Sigma chapter, the chapter development process does not end when the application is submitted or approved.
Usually, as a developing honor society, the focus of your goals is to complete the suggested tasks in each phase in order to successfully meet the minimum requirements to apply for chapter status.As you transition to an official chapter (pending approval), your priorities will shift and the focus of your goals will be to exceed the minimum requirements and establish initiatives to further enhance the chapter and your members’ chapter experience.This cycle of growth and development should be ongoing throughout the lifespan of the chapter.