Strategic Plan FAQ

Question 1. What is strategic planning and why do departments have to engage in the process?

At the most basic level - “Strategic Planning” is an organization’s attempt at defining what it wants to do (outcomes), determine how it will achieve those outcomes (through activities, strategies), and make decisions on allocating resources (budget, workload, etc.) to assure those activities are successful and outcomes are achieved.  As a part of this process, it is important to know whether activities and strategies have been successful and whether the outcomes have been achieved (through assessment).  CWU is simply engaging in normative organizational behavior –particularly in light of the old CWU strategic plan was completed in 2011.             

Central Washington University is committed to continuous improvement and as such needs to connect all levels of the organization to assure that unit and ultimately institutional goals and mission is achieved.

Question 2. How is this strategic planning process different than previous planning exercises in the past? 

While CWU has engaged in previous planning exercises, there was little attempt to connect planningbudgeting, and assessment processes.  The current strategic planning exercise attempts to connect these three processes in a yearly cycle. While this is an expectation of accreditation, the melding of these three processes is new to CWU.    

Question 3. How will strategic planning be used to inform decisions made at the administrative level that was unavailable when using other review processes (i.e., program review)?

The new yearly strategic planning and reporting process is meant to be a more iterative and recursive continuous improvement process while past processes (i.e., program review) were somewhat summative in nature (5-year) and did not directly connect actual budgeting into the process.    

Question 4. How many outcomes should a department have as a part of their strategic plan?

Each department should create outcomes that best align with their own internal and disciplinary philosophy and culture.  However, at the basic level – most academic departments will almost certainly have outcomes related to effective teaching and learning, service to the university, profession, and/or community, and research and creative expression.  Sample outcomes can be reviewed and/or used from the following link: sample outcomes.

Question 5. Does every university objective need a department outcome to be aligned to it?

No, departments should only create outcomes that they feel fit their own internal and disciplinary philosophy and culture.  Departmental outcomes may change over time and in consultation with college Deans.  

Question 6. When is the department strategic plan due to the Dean or Assistant/Associate Vice President? 

Unit (i.e., department level) plans are due December 14th, 2012.

Question 7. When is the first report due in terms of reporting on outcome progress? 

The first “end of year” reports are scheduled to be due September 1, 2013 for non-academic units and October 1, 2013 for academic units. 

Question 8. Has information been missing from the previous academic program review process that is now captured in the Strategic Planning process? 

While the new strategic planning process may not differ significantly from the academic program review process as a whole in terms of content, the more iterative and recursive nature of the yearly process and its integration with actual budgeting is different. Also, it is expected that the quality of information collected as a part of the process itself will be enhanced with more often review. 

Question 9. What were the difficulties in using information from the program review process to inform budgets and planning? How are these difficulties addressed in the Strategic Planning process?

Information has always been used from program review to inform budgets and planning.  However, the long period between review periods did not lend itself well to fast moving changing in either the external or internal context of the department. 

Question 10. One of the difficulties departments ran into during program review was receiving accurate information in a timely manner. Are you aware of this concern and if so how is it being addressed?

The issue of data integrity and access is as important today as it was years ago.  The Office of Organizational Effectiveness and a new director (Ed Day) has been established/hired in the last year to assist and improve institutional functioning in this regard.   

Question 11. How will the Strategic Planning process affect departments required to undergo external accreditation?  Will they need to do their accreditation document as well as the Strategic Operational Plan?

The strategic planning process should complement any accreditation process.  It will be important that the affected departments/faculty talk with their Deans in terms of any specific concerns they might have in this regard.

Question 12. Should departments who performed a program review last year also fill out a Strategic Operational Plan this year?

Yes – all departments needs to complete the strategic planning template.  However, information should be imported as much as possible from past efforts to reduce workload. 

Question 13. For academic departments, do we still have to complete “student learning assessment reports”? 

Yes, the assessment of student learning for each degree program should still be completed.  The due date for the report(s) will coincide and be a part (section) of the “end of year” strategic planning report.   To reduce and lighten workload requirements, note that every outcome does not have to be assessed each year, although a plan should be developed so that all outcomes are assessed within a given five-year span.

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