“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”

Emily Dickinson, American poet


Strategic Planning


Taking Stock

Taking stock 2




Taking stock and re-assessment are important first steps in the planning process.  This process includes:  consideration of a Service’s mission; analysis of the environment; identification of priorities; evaluation of methods together with consultation and communication with key stakeholders. Mission and values are the foundation stones which underpin the direction of a Service and are at the heart of planning. It is a useful first step to re-consider the mission, values and ethos of any given Service.




When planning, it is important to analyse what is happening both inside and outside a Service, using a SCOT or other analytic tool. Identifying the Service's strengths and the areas to be developed or built on is a key step.  Any external changes which may be taking place and any key influences at work should be noted.  Economic trends or policy changes which could impact on a Service and its resources are also of importance.   Changes taking place within a sector (e.g managing agents such as ETB/WIT), within the Guidance Service and/or the target groups are also significant?  Statistical information, as a planning tool, can help identify emerging trends or areas requiring development.

The clients and the delivery of a quality Service are key components to the planning process. Identifying the most pressing factors facing a Service, priorities and their order of importance is critical.

Strategic planning provides an opportunity to evaluate what is working well in a Service. Even more importantly, it can identify what is not working so well.   This can then pave the way for informed changes and/or remedial actions to take place within the planning framework.

Relevant stakeholders, including clients, need to be consulted for their views and ideas.  It is important that the plan is clearly communicated to everyone who is involved.



Does your Service have a strategic plan? If so, what steps would you take in order to achieve a comprehensive review of the plan?