Strategic and operational plans help your organisations and clubs to clearly define goals and how they can be achieved.

Plans help guide employees and volunteers to use their time and resources more effectively. Providing clear objectives and assigning tasks to be undertaken in line with these objectives leads to better outcomes and a more coordinated, productive organisation.

The planning process

Planning is the process of thinking about where you are now, where you want to be in the future and how you are going to get there.

A strategic plan should outline who you are, what you do and where you want to be as an organisation including:

The operational plan (or business plan) covers how your organisation will achieve your strategic priorities.

Before you begin planning, take a look at your state and/or national sporting organisation’s plan. Their plan can be used as a guide for developing your own plan and help build stronger relationships with your affiliate body.

For more information on the benefits of planning and what is involved see the information sheet Strategic and Operational Planning for Sporting Organisations (PDF 602.5KB).

Engaging with the people involved in your organisation during the planning process helps to ensure that your strategic and operational plans accurately reflect everyone’s views. Conducting a pre-planning survey and/or SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis can be an efficient way of consulting people to assist in developing your plan.

Benefits of conducting a survey, questionnaire or SWOT analysis before strategic planning include:

  • It gives you a good idea of where your organisation is currently at
  • It help provide a starting point for discussion during your strategic planning meeting
  • It allows people who cannot attend the planning meeting to provide input
  • It allows people attending the meeting to prepare appropriately to make a useful contribution during the planning process

Try to seek feedback from people directly involved in your organisation as well as those in the local community such as sponsors, venue or facility staff and local council.

Pre-planning survey

Developing the right questions to gather relevant information is important. The template below provides some examples of questions and information you can gather prior to your strategic planning meeting. This can be used as a guide and should be modified to suit your organisation.

You can conduct a survey using email or an online forum, or a written form. Online forums such as SurveyMonkey can automatically analyse your results which is easy and time-efficient.

Pre-planning survey template

Avoiding open-ended questions will make it easier to summarise and analyse your results. The pre-planning survey template can be used as a guide to assist your organisation in collecting information.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis looks at your organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

SWOT analysis can be used to consider your organisation as a whole or just one specific priority or objective.

The questions and examples below are a guide only.

Strengths
QUESTIONS
EXAMPLES OF STRENGTHS
  • What does your organisation do well?
  • What are your assets?
  • Why do your members come back?
  • Well trained volunteers and/or staff
  • Modern equipment
  • Large and dedicated volunteer base
Weaknesses
QUESTIONS
EXAMPLES OF WEAKNESSES
  • What are some things that your organisation could do better?
  • Does your organisation face any disadvantages?
  • Lack of expertise or experience
  • Lack of available resources
Opportunities
QUESTIONS
EXAMPLES OF OPPORTUNITIES
  • Where is there potential to improve or expand?
  • How can you create a competitive advantage?
  • Partner with other organisations
  • Obtain additional sponsorship or funding
  • Provide training
Threats
QUESTIONS
EXAMPLES OF THREATS
  • Are there any attitudes or behaviours in your organisation that could threaten it?
  • What future changes might negatively affect your organisation?
  • Complacency
  • New technology, products or service
  • demographic changes (eg ageing participants, families moving away from area)

A SWOT Analysis template

The SWOT analysis template can be used as a guide to assist your organisation in collecting information.

Planning meetings are an opportunity to involve a variety of people from your organisation in the strategic and operational planning process. The process itself can be just as important as the final document and the plan is more likely to be acted on if people in the organisation contribute to its development.

Consider what you might need to prepare for your meeting including:

  • Venue booking (including accessibility)
  • Laptop, computer, projector etc
  • Stationary
  • Refreshments
  • Necessary documentation
  • Confident facilitator to guide the discussion

Documentation templates

These templates can be used as a guide to assist in planning your meetings and developing your organisation’s strategic and operational plans.

Examples:

What is a facilitator?

A facilitator is someone who helps run a meeting and is responsible for helping to provide structure to the discussion and debate. It is important to write down key ideas and information that the group works through. For meetings that have a larger number of people, assign a separate person to act as the scribe to allow the facilitator to focus on guiding the discussion.

What is the role of the facilitator?

The facilitator should aim to:

  • Keep the group on track and ensure all participants are heard
  • Identify and link common themes and prevent repetition
  • Help resolve and/or manage any disagreements or conflicts
  • Clarify confusing statements by summarising what has been said and asking clarifying questions
  • Identify when the group is ready to make a decision and test for agreement

It is not the purpose of the facilitator to:

  • Make judgements about people’s arguments or opinions
  • Have the final say
  • Dominate the discussion

Sometimes conflict will arise within the group. Everyone should be encouraged to have an open mind and try to set aside their own personal feelings. It is difficult to manage conflict, especially within a peer group. Choose a facilitator who is confident in managing conflict and is familiar with their role and responsibilities.

Tips for facilitating

  • Each member of the group will come from a particular background and culture and has a unique set of experiences, ideas and opinions.
  • People need to feel safe to contribute to the discussion, to share a differing opinion or something personal. Ensure the group understands that ‘whatever happens in the group stays in the group’.
  • Just because a person is quiet does not mean that they do not have something valuable to contribute to the discussion.
  • Every person’s contribution is valuable. People should contribute equally irrespective of their position or experience.
  • Everyone in the group has a right to have their views heard.