Strategic planning sounds like a daunting task, but it’s just a formal process for setting objectives and goals for your community and then mapping out a plan to accomplish your objectives. When you develop a strategic plan, you think through the coming years instead of just the current year or a few months. It’s more than a budget or a reserve study—it’s a plan that can help your HOA Board accomplish your long-term objectives. Follow these five steps to get started, and you’ll see that strategic planning is Business 101 basics applied to your homeowner association.
- Assess the big picture. Where does the Board see the association in 5 years? Include areas such as financial, common areas, reserve funds, new design, landscaping, etc. The big picture is about clarity: everyone on the Board knows where the association is going, and actions are aligned with the association goals. Strategic planning aligns your Board, owners and vendors through common goals and objectives.
- Evaluate where your association is currently. What’s important to the owners? What is your financial situation? Reserve fund? Pending laws? Evaluating where you are vs. where you are heading helps you fine-tune objectives and identify risks.
- Create an action plan based on risks and attainable goals. Objectives are at the top level, and your plan of action is the strategy. A strategic plan is more detailed in the near term and is less thorough for future years. The secret is looking beyond the current year so that you can support the long-term goals of the association.
- Decide who is accountable for each strategic plan area. Think of your strategic plan as a map. A driver follows a map to get from one location to another. Likewise, you need a driver to get you from Point A to Point B in your strategic plan. Objectives, action plans and budgets are all part of the process, but you need drivers to oversee the different areas of the plan.
- Review and adapt your strategic plan. Recognize that many external factors affect an association. You can’t predict changing laws, economic issues or other things that influence your association. With regularly scheduled strategic plan reviews, you can adapt your plan as necessary.