To many people, strategic planning is something meant only for big businesses, but it is equally applicable to any type of business entity or organization. Strategic planning is matching the strengths of an organization to available opportunities. To do this effectively, an organization need to collect, screen, and analyze information about its environment. The organization also needs to have a clear understanding of its strengths and weaknesses – and develop a clear mission, goals, and objectives (Wikipedia, n. . ). Acquiring this understanding often involves more work than expected.
The organization must realistically assess its current state and device a plan of action to successfully make it better. So how does an organization gauge how well they are doing in term of matching their strengths to available opportunities? A self-assessment using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence can help an organization achieve high performance and move toward performance excellence (Balbridge. om).
Even if the organization isn’t ready to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the Baldrige criteria are a framework for evaluating any organization’s processes, their impact on results, and its progress toward goals and objectives. The Baldrige criterion consists of seven key categories/indicators of success. One of these categories is strategic planning and it contains ten questions that are not routinely asked on how an organization can function more efficiently.
In the case of University California, Berkeley’s and University of Colorado, Boulder’s campus-wide IT strategic plan, this paper will address some of these questions as they relate to Balbridge’s criteria for assessing strategic planning. The questions I will cover are: describe how the organization sets its strategic objectives into action plans, what the organization’s action plans are, and how the organization is able to project future performance on these key performance indicators or measures.
In addition, this paper will also describe the following: how each university used the strategic planning process to address their needs, what are the university’s current strategic objectives, and the goals for each objective and the timetable for achieving these objectives. First of all, one of Baldridge’s criteria in strategic planning is answering the question of the organization’s current strategic objectives, the goals for each, and the timetable for achieving them. The following are the objectives for UC
Basic IT resources that are adequately supported and refreshed in order to carry out their research, teaching and learning, and administrative work. 2. Seamless, integrated, immediate, and continuous self-service access to information and services. 3. Robust technology tools to support collaboration. 4. Access to tools and data/information that enable community members to develop their own integrated solutions. The UC-Bolder defined their strategic objectives as the following: 1.
Universally available wireless network including all campus buildings and strategic open common spaces as well as access to a campus VPN. 2. Faculty purchase and renewal program allowing all faculties a significant subsidy for a new computer every several years. 3. Free antivirus and encryption to protect data as well as access to a variety of major software licenses. 4. Integrated email, calendaring, and scheduling (Exchange). 5. Accessible and multi-layered IT support including both centralized and dedicated IT personnel. 6. Classroom and online IT training.
Although I did not go in depth about their objectives and timetables, clearly in each report, both universities exclusively defined what their IT strategic plans and objectives are for their future success. Charles McNamara (n. d. ), a leading strategic planning advisor, stated that goals should be designed and worded as much as possible to be specific, measurable, acceptable to those working to achieve the goals, realistic, timely, extending the capabilities of those working to achieve the goals, and rewarding to them, as well.
By clearly defining what their goals and needs are, both universities mirrored the Baldrige criteria for strategic planning. Secondly, one of the ten questions asked in Baldridge criteria for strategic planning is how do you ensure that financial, human, and other resources are available to support the accomplishment of your action plans? In other words, how do the universities convert their strategic objectives into action plans through resource allocations? UC Boulder satisfied that question by having approximately 300 employees in the Information Technology Services.
In addition, UC Boulder has also clearly defined how they will allocate their IT resources to ensure they meet their strategic goals. According to the website UC Boulder’s IT allocation is as follows: 1. Campus programs and projects (28%) 2. Academic technologies and spaces (25%) 3. Support, operations, and services (including network and telephony) (42%) 4. Administration & support (5%) With UC Berkeley, however, it paints a different picture. UC Berkeley did have an IT allocation but they used the generic term “resources” throughout their strategic plan and were not at all defined as compared to UC Boulder.
Their means of resource support simply stated: “Researchers and research support staff across disciplines require a minimum level of research support with technical compatibility to facilitate research and the sharing of data, and to avoid significant reinvestment and training for each new research initiative. ” By far UC Berkeley does not meet Baldridge criteria by not specifically allocating their resources. With goals and objectives clearly defined by both universities, a plan of action must take place. According to McNamara (n. d. ), action planning is carefully laying out how the strategic goals will be accomplished.
Action planning often includes specifying objectives, or specific results, with each strategic goal. Therefore, reaching a strategic goal typically involves accomplishing a set of objectives along the way — in that sense, an objective is still a goal, but on a smaller scale. Often, each objective is associated with a tactic, which is one of the methods needed to reach an objective. Therefore, implementing a strategy typically involves implementing a set of tactics along the way — in that sense, a tactic is still a strategy, but on a smaller scale.
He added that action planning also includes specifying responsibilities and timelines with each objective, or who needs to do what and by when. It should also include methods to monitor and evaluate the plan, which includes knowing how the organization will know who has done what and by when.
With that said each university’s plan needs to address adapting and evolving with new and emerging technology to stay in accordance with the Baldrige criteria. UC Berkeley acknowledges how new technology will affect their strategic plan with the following statement in their plan, “New and emerging technology solution-building capabilities.
They attempt to address new technologies in their 2030 plan, but unlike UC Berkeley, they do not address it specifically. UC Boulder’s attempt at planning for emerging technologies: “Flagship 2030; not only will advancements in research computing across campus help facilitate growth and excellence in research, the open, collaborative, and flexible spirit in which such advancements are pursued will help ensure research computing resources allow for new approaches to research, scholarly, and creative work, and bolster structural support for research and creative programs across campus. Last but not least, the Baldrige criterion asks the question.
“What are your key performance measures or indicators for tracking the achievement and effectiveness of your action plans? ” I have read both the universities report in its entirety but I did not find any mention of how each university would measure the successfulness of their strategic plan. It is kind of odd to me that they didn’t mention any indicators or measurement. Is this a common practice among the IT community to not take into account the importance of measuring the effectiveness of their IT strategies?
When discussing measuring for effectiveness of the IT plan at UC Berkeley, Mr. Jack McCredie explains, “It is much more of a description of an end state that we are working for. We are more goal oriented, not number oriented, in our process. One UC Berkeley goal was to wire the campus, not count the number of nodes that are actually installed. Our board doesn’t seem to require particular dashboard numbers that say we are 38 percent of the way to accomplishing our goal. Clearly in my opinion, both of the universities failed one area of the Baldridge criteria and are not showing any efforts and thoughts into establishing proper measures of effectiveness into their plans. In conclusion, in comparing the strategic IT plans of UC Berkeley and the University of Colorado at Boulder, similarities and differences become quickly evident. When Baldridge criteria for strategic planning are taken into account, in conjunction with comparing each strategic plan, the variation in depth of commitment clearly shows.
In my opinion, each universities IT strategic plan is not superior over the other as both have faults and missing some key ingredients in successfully attaining IT strategic planning superiority. As Charles McNamara stated, “A frequent complaint about strategic plans is that they are merely “to-do” lists of what to accomplish over the next few years. Or, others complain that strategic planning never seems to come in handy when the organization is faced with having to make a difficult, major decision. Or, other complains that strategic planning really doesn’t help the organization face the future.
These complaints arise because organizations fail to conduct a thorough strategic analysis as part of their strategic planning process. Instead, planners decide to plan only from what they know now. This makes the planning process much less strategic and a lot more guesswork. Strategic analysis is the heart of the strategic planning process and should not be ignored.