ROMA-Based Strategic Plan: Charting and Navigating a Course toward Excellence

Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership Strategic PlanAre you able to effectively describe how the work of your agency is making a difference in your community? Can you demonstrate that your funding is invested in high-impact efforts to address both immediate and longer term poverty needs and conditions? 

Are all of your programs working hand-in hand to fulfill your mission? Does every staff member understand the piece of the puzzle they represent in accomplishing the agency’s strategic goals and performance measures? Or are you stuck with a bunch of silos largely operating independently from each other?

These questions can readily be answered by the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership, winner of the 2012 Award for Excellence in Community Action. Through a peer review site visit, EICAP was found to exceed 32 out of 34 of the Community Action Standards of Excellence!1 Many practices were considered to be best in class, including how the agency uses its strategic plan to drive operations, links client services to the accomplishment of measureable strategic goals, and uses a scorecard to show progress.2

Making It Happen with Your Strategic Plan
Strategic planning works like a well-oiled machine for EICAP.3 The current EICAP Strategic Plan was adopted in July 2011 and begins with the standard elements found in most strategic plans:

  • Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Agency Values
  • Organizational Mandates and Stakeholders
  • SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

But it’s the next component of the plan – Results Oriented Management and Accountability Goals and Strategic Objectives – that plugs in the framework of ROMA, which is unique to the Community Action Network.  Strategies and metrics are delineated under each ROMA goal.

The final section of the plan presents Updating the Strategic Plan – a timeline indicating the process established to keep the Strategic Plan current and up-to-date.

With the plan in place, specific steps are taken to build a unified commitment and effort with built-in accountability toward accomplishment of the strategic plan throughout the agency.  These include:

  • Operational Plans aligning each program with the applicable ROMA goals, strategies and metrics of the Strategic Plan. EICAP programs include Area Agency on Agency, Community Services Division, Head Start, Housing Department, and Weatherization.  Program Directors report on their Operational Plans as part of their reports to the Board of Directors.
  • EICAP Scorecard – tabs at bottom include:
    • Scorecard outcomes
    • Scores by Metric with benchmarks, quarterly and year-to-date results, and comparison of results with benchmarks for monitoring by board and management.
    • Data for each metric – monthly, quarterly and yearly. Yearly data is incorporated into EICAP’s Annual Report.

Employee Engagement
Three tools are used to foster employment engagement with EICAP’s Strategic Plan:

  • Strategic Plan Brochure to communicate the plan is given to all current employees and to all new employees upon hire. Strategic Goals are grouped under each of the six ROMA goals and reflect programs and activities associated with each strategy. Training is also provided on the Strategic Plan.
  • Job Descriptions
    • All Employees have the following as a duty in their job descriptions: As an employee of EICAP you will assume the responsibility of understanding your role in accomplishing the strategic goals and performance measures of the Agency.
    • All Supervisors have the following as a duty in their job descriptions: As a supervisor you will assume the responsibility of assuring that all employees working under your direct supervision understand their role in accomplishing the strategic goals and performance measures of the Agency.
  • Employee Evaluations
    • All Employees are evaluated on: Strategic Goals – Consider the employee’s understanding of strategic goals. Does the employee understand their role in accomplishing the strategic goals and performance measures of the Agency?
    • All Supervisors are evaluated on: Strategic Goals – Consider how well the employee communicates strategic goals to subordinates.  Does the employee actively assure employees under their direct supervision understand their role in accomplishing the strategic goals and performance measures of the Agency?

Developing a Scorecard for Your Agency
Working with the Community Action Partnership, the Balanced Scorecard Institute created – Improving Performance, Scoring Success: Using Balanced Scorecards for Organizational Excellence – a "do-it-yourself" planning toolkit for Community Action Agencies.4

The Toolkit is based on the Institute's rigorous Nine Steps to Success™ balanced scorecard framework that combines strategic planning, change management, program and service prioritization, performance measurement and target setting.

The Toolkit follows the five stages of the ROMA cycle: Assessment, Planning, Implementation, Achievement of Results, and Evaluation. The toolkit is designed to help CAAs not only perform strategic planning, but organize measures and reporting in a way that maps to the six ROMA goals, helps meet National Performance Indicator reporting requirements, and supports participation in the Pathways to Excellence program. The goal is to help Agencies improve their efficiency and effectiveness, and become more strategy focused and aligned.

Listen to the webinar recording - Improving Performance, Scoring Success (1 hour 6 minutes)

From Silos to Empowerment
Additional measures have been developed by EICAP to unify the organization through employee engagement.5 Several employee committees are used to promote participation and input, including an Employee Council.  The annual employee evaluation process includes goal setting, semi-annual progress reviews, and annual evaluation based partially on accomplishment of goals.  Employees may request training/professional development opportunities, which are tracked and followed-up as part of the annual evaluation.

To promote communication, semi-annual agency-wide staff meetings are held and staff satisfaction surveys are conducted.  Monthly internal newsletters are published and a staff portal is included through the EICAP website.  An EICAP Program Service Guide serves as a resource to help link clients with the full array of EICAP services and an Internal Referral Tally Form is used to these efforts.

A variety of appreciation events are held and Kudo Kards are used to foster continuous employee recognition. The agency is also instituting some reorganization of both program and administrative functions to streamline and bring about further integration of the organization.

Striving for Excellence is an Ongoing Journey
EICAP is a shining example of an organization that explicitly values continuous learning.  The Community Action Partnership’s Pathways to Excellence engaged staff and board members in identifying both strengths and opportunities for improvement within the agency.6 The strategic planning and operational process constructed by EICAP as an ongoing framework will contribute greatly to the agency’s future success.  And will also reflect the many ways that EICAP makes a difference in its community!

Information Sources
1Award for Excellence in Community Action – Comprehensive Organizational Feedback Report, Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership, September 2012 (Practical Resources for Pursuing Excellence: The EICAP Toolbox – pp. 76-104) accessed from Toolkits, Community Action Partnership National Training Center
2Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership Receives National Award for Excellence, Community Action Partnership eNews, June 26, 2012
3Strategic Planning: The Award Winning Way, Workshop Presentation, Russ Spain, Nick Burrows and Sheryl Bailey, 2012 Community Action Partnership Annual Convention
4Improving Performance, Scoring Success (summary of webinar topic), Community Action Partnership National Training Center
5From Silos to Empowerment: Employee Engagement the Award for Excellence Way, Workshop Presentation, Nick Burrows, Sheryl Bailey and Melissa Krieger, 2012 Community Action Partnership Annual Convention
6The Journey to Winning The Award For Excellence in Community Action, Workshop Presentation, Russ Spain, Nick Burrows and Sheryl Bailey, 2012 Community Action Partnership Annual Convention

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This website was created by NASCSP in the performance of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services Grant Number 90ET0431 and the Community Action Partnership in the performance of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services Grant Number 90ET0428.

Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US DHHS, ACF.