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Developing Metrics and Monitoring

What does Success Look Like?

Good strategic planning is characterized by clear targets, metrics for evaluating progress toward them, regular reporting to the appropriate leaders and communities, and opportunities for discussion and interpretation of the results.

The strategic planning committee (SPC) or a subcommittee is charged with reviewing the specific goals of the plan, identifying desired results, and developing quantitative and qualitative metrics to evaluate whether the specific strategies and initiatives are effective in moving you closer to your desired goals. The metrics for a strategic plan should become the unit’s “dashboard’—a set of indicators that helps you determine if you’re headed in the right direction, at the right pace, and with the right resources.

Defining Metrics for Your Goals

The process of defining your metrics challenges you to articulate clearly “what success will look like,” and how your plans will achieve your goals in manifest ways. For example, a SPC advancing a plan to promote meaningful faculty-student research collaboration might adopt such metrics as counts of students and faculty engaged in such collaborations, student-faculty co-authored papers or presentations, students’ interest in continued research pursuits. Each of these metrics captures an aspect of meaningful collaborations. Used together in a thoughtful way, they would provide robust indicators.

Monitoring and Reporting Your Progress

Effective monitoring of a strategic plan requires that someone is charged with collecting evidence that applies to the specific metrics, organizing the evidence, and assisting in its interpretation. Effective evidence collection itself requires a plan. Determine what evidence you will need, how, when and, as appropriate, from whom, you will obtain that evidence.

The unit’s leadership should establish regular points at which evidence is reported in the form of a succinct “report card” with a consistent format. Regular reporting will help leadership make decisions about future efforts and resources and will help tweak ongoing strategies and inform new ones as your strategic plan moves forward.

Refreshing the Plan

A good strategic plan is a living document. Periodic environmental analysis/scanning, performance monitoring, and regular interpretation of the results of both these efforts are important means for ensuring that a strategic plan remains relevant and responsive. In addition, revisit and refresh your strategic plan as a whole at its halfway point.

Some steps in the refresh process might include:

  • A reexamination of every goal, strategy and initiative of the strategic plan
  • An assessment of which goals have been met, which have not, and why
  • A determination of how the goals and supporting initiatives should be recalibrated in light of this assessment, as well as in response to significant changes in the internal and external environment.
  • The incorporation of fresh ideas that support the unit’s mission, vision and values.