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How to Create a Strategic Plan
Looking for a way to take your company in a new and profitable direction? It starts with strategic planning. Keep reading to learn what a strategic plan is, why you need it and how you can strategically create one.
What Is a Strategic Plan?
When it comes to business and finance, strategic planning will help you allocate your resources, energy and assets. When implemented, a strategic plan will begin to move your operations in a more profitable direction. The primary goal of the plan is to ensure you and any other stakeholders are on the same page and striving to reach the same goal.
Creating a strategic plan requires a disciplined effort. Once you put the plan into action, it will influence the segment of customers that you target, how you serve those customers and the experience those customers have.
Assess the Current Infrastructure and Operations
The first step in creating a strategic plan is to carefully assess your existing infrastructure and operations. You can do this through a SWOT analysis, which is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal here is to pinpoint the resources that you use to carry out your day-to-day operations, to look at your monthly revenue patterns, to list any company challenges related to the customer experience and, most importantly, to look at your marketing methods and ways to improve the overall customer experience.
Creation of Mission Statement and Objectives
The next step is to create a mission statement. You may already have one, but it’s important to note your mission at the top of the strategic plan document you create. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. Your mission statement should cover why you started the company and what you intend to accomplish through the products and services that you offer.
In addition to the mission statement, make sure to outline both short- and long-term objectives. List the objectives according to their priority and designate certain managers or employees to be responsible for each one. Also, jot down the resources that will be used to achieve each objective.
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve and who is responsible for each goal, it’s time to deploy the plan and measure its progress. A weekly meeting is extremely important for all managers and stakeholders provide feedback. Your goal is to determine if the company is headed in the right direction. If not, you’ll need to revise the strategic plan accordingly.
Strategic Plans Are Ongoing
Once your strategic plan helps you achieve several objectives, it’s smart to regroup and set new objectives. As your company grows, you can set new goals to ensure the company keeps moving forward. You can share the success of your strategic plan with potential investors as a way to tap into new capital funding.
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Smaller law enforcement agencies often face an uphill battle due to limited resources
The law enforcement profession is fluid and police leaders must be able to forecast emerging trends that will allow them to plan strategically for the future of their department. Over the years this has become increasingly difficult as the economy becomes more unpredictable.
Smaller law enforcement agencies often face an uphill battle due to limited resources and competitive grant opportunities that require an unattainable match. These agencies still have to provide the same quality service to their communities as any other mid- to large-size agency; however, they have to do more with less.
Strategic planning for any law enforcement entity serves as a document that provides the vision and goals of the organization over time, with a roadmap for how those vision and goals will be accomplished. For a smaller organization a strategic plan provides stakeholders with a living document that allows for proper planning toward the priorities of the organization in accordance with the operating budget. The following steps can help create a strategic plan for your agency.
1. Set a clear vision and goals
LE leaders must be able to set a clear vision for their agency so everyone knows the plan for the organization. Once a clear vision has been set, goals should be established, along with a time frame for accomplishing those goals.
2. Forecast your budget
It is a good rule of thumb to increase line items by at least 15 percent when forecasting future budgets . Certain line items such as fuel can be very unpredictable, so you should compare your previous fuel budget and allow for increases. It is always better to forecast a higher number and come under budget.
3. Prioritize your goals
When creating a strategic plan, consider goals that can be achieved with minimal impact to the budget (low-hanging fruit). Such quick victories will boost morale within your organization and make an impact within your community. These items can be accomplished while allowing time to achieve more lofty goals that require a more significant investment.
4. Set reasonable time frames
A three- to five-year strategic plan allows enough time to implement thorough, effective measures to achieve the vision and goals of the strategic plan.
Strategic planning in practice
Using the steps above, my department – which is comprised of 21 sworn officers and six civilian staff – created the following strategic plan:
All these items had a minimal impact on our operating budget but they had a huge impact on morale and our community’s perception of our department:
- Re-branded our agency via new decals for our units, new uniforms and new patches.
- Created a social media page to allow us to be more accessible and transparent to our community.
- Organized community events such as Alton’s first annual National Night Out .
We understood that while larger ticket items were a priority, they would take a little more time to accomplish.
- We reviewed our operating budget and allotted ourselves six months to acquire a CAD/RMS system for our communications center. This item took time, planning and support from our city administration to acquire. After going through all of the steps, we were able to acquire the system that improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our department within four months of our six-month goal.
- We implemented a bike patrol program within four months of our one-year goal that required investments in equipment and training, however the impact that this program has made in our community has already paid dividends.
We continue to work toward increasing department personnel in our communications center, patrol and investigations divisions in order to serve our growing community with the highest level of service. We understand that this part of our strategic plan will take the longest and must be done in increments over time to ensure a smooth transition in our operating budget.
I have found much success in strategic planning for my organization. My hope is that this article will assist those in similar situations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organizations via a solid strategic plan.
About the author
Jonathan B. Flores serves as the assistant city manager and chief of police in Alton, Texas. Chief Flores is a former homicide investigator for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Trevecca University in 2021, has a master’s in public administration from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and a bachelor's in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix.
- Rural Law Enforcement
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Technology and strategic planning in policing.
Every criminal justice organization needs to occasionally examine its core values and evaluate the process by which it provides the advertised goods and services. Strategic planning provides the tools and steps required to examine the efficiency of an agency’s product delivery systems. Both public and private agencies have an obligation to their service population, and without such planning, agencies risk failing to meet the needs of their customers. Therefore, strategic planning is an integral part of modern agencies concerned about fiscal responsibility and adequate service delivery (Haines 2000).
The push toward professionalism and public accountability has led police departments to adopt strategic planning measures and to apply concepts borrowed from the business world. The advent of information technology (IT) provides new opportunities and challenges for police strategic planning. Modern technologies have become indispensable parts of today’s police planning process, whether to manage personnel or to anticipate how best to address the crime problems of tomorrow.
Basic Strategic Planning in Policing
Strategic planning holds many benefits for police leaders. It can help an agency to identify and anticipate key trends and issues facing the organization, both currently and in the future. The planning process also explores options, sets directions, and helps stakeholders make appropriate decisions. It facilitates communication among key stakeholders who are involved in the process and keeps organizations focused on outcomes while battling daily crises. Planning can be used to develop performance standards to measure an agency’s efforts. Finally, and most important, it helps leaders to facilitate and manage change (Glensor and Peak 2005). Table 1 illustrates some strategic planning steps and the required actions.
The need for IT in strategic planning becomes even more acute where the organization has adopted and is practicing the community-oriented policing and problem solving (COPPS) strategy. For example, under COPPS, the organization necessarily needs to maximize communication with and obtain feedback from the citizenry. Some technology applications for these purposes can be quite simplistic, such as issuing cellular telephones to officers and publishing officers’ telephone numbers. Or, on a higher plane, the agency might consider the development of a website. A web page can solicit input from the community concerning Such information can be very helpful for strategically planning the agency’s future. In addition, such areas as the agency’s history, mission, vision, values, and philosophy/methods under COPPS can be presented and explained in this website.
Table 1 Strategic planning steps and required actions
- Criminal events or neighborhood problems
- Perceptions of the department overall as well as of individual officer contacts
- Programs or activities that citizens would like to see implemented
IT thus can assist the organization in meeting its goals and objectives. The chief executive must ensure, however, that all personnel are aware of these technologies and are knowledgeable in terms of their use. To merge strategic planning and IT, then, law enforcement chief executives must do the following:
- Recognize that the agency should first prepare a strategic plan that articulates the organization’s overall mission, goals, and objectives.
- Recognize the mission-critical role of technology in policing and develop a vision for IT and its role in the agency, keeping in mind that the strategic IT vision directly supports the mission, goals, and objectives of the agency.
- Create a systematic process for continual planning, maintenance, and support of information systems. The use of IT for strategic planning is not a one-time effort and requires a cyclical process for planning, procuring, implementing, and managing IT.
- Develop a strategic IT vision document. This document will articulate how technology will assist the agency in meeting its core mission and establish an ongoing process to evaluate, upgrade, and enhance those technologies as agency goals and technology change.
Police Strategic Planning and Technology
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), created by the Crime Control Act Of 1994, was largely responsible for bringing police departments up to date in terms of IT. ”Under the MORE (Making Officer Redeployment Effective) program, the OCOPS delivered more than $1.3 billion to nearly 4,500 police departments for the acquisition and implementation of IT systems” (Dunworth 2005, 7). This increase in IT has helped police organizations meet their objectives by integrating technological advances into the strategic planning process.
As noted above, it is extremely important for law enforcement organizations to engage in strategic planning. Just as important, however, is the need for the chief executives to understand how IT can assist in strategic planning, as well as the kinds of technologies that are available for this undertaking. Technological improvements can now provide crucial information for strategic planning. As examples, computer-aided dispatching (CAD) now has the ability to supply real-time statistical information, do screen mapping, prepare alarm bills and warnings, and issue and store various permits; records management systems (RMSs) now analyze crime statistics and maintain files related to people, vehicles, prisoners, and officer activities. Other technologies have been developed more recently and can provide a much better picture of the situation being examined and related long-term planning efforts.
Strategic Planning and Crime Reduction Applications
Strategic planning that involves preventive efforts or addressing specific, recurring problems can also benefit by employing IT. A few examples are as follows:
- Crime prevention . COPPS and IT can assist with strategic planning for crime prevention through its crime analysis function, by looking at means for denying offenders the opportunity to act in the first place. Using the SARA process, analysts can scan for crime problems, analyze the nature of criminal activity, respond by allocating the necessary police resources to thwart offenders, and assess by performing periodic evaluations to determine effectiveness (Helms 2002).
- Mapping criminal events . Computerized crime mapping combines geographic information from global positioning satellites with crime statistics gathered by the department’s CAD system and demographic data. The result is a picture that combines disparate sets of data for a whole new perspective on crime. For example, a map of crimes can be overlaid with maps or layers of causative data: unemployment rates in the areas of high crime, locations of abandoned houses, population density, reports of drug activity, or geographic features (such as alleys, canals, or open fields) that might be contributing factors (Rogers 1997; Pilant 1997).
- Accident investigation . Some police agencies have begun using a global positioning system to determine such details as vehicle location and damage, elevation, grade, radii of curves, and critical speed. A transmitter takes a series of ”shots” to gain the exact location and measurements of accident details such as skid marks, area of impact, and debris; that information is then downloaded into the system and the coordinates are plotted out onto an aerial shot of the intersection or roadway. Using computer technology, the details are then superimposed onto the aerial shot, thus re-creating the accident scene to scale. Finally, digital photos of the accident are incorporated into the final product, resulting in a highly accurate depiction of the accident (Bath 2003).
- Gang intelligence systems . Police now use their laptop computers and cellular phones to assist in solving gang-related crimes. Some states now have an intranet-linked software package that connects sites throughout the state. It is essentially a clearinghouse for information about individual gang members, the places they frequent or live, and the cars they drive. Within a few minutes, a police officer in the field can be linked to the net, type in information, and wait for matches (Dussault 1998).
- Personnel and deployment applications . Police departments need to deploy personnel efficiently. This can be achieved using different technological tools. For example, computerized personnel databases can identify officers with unusual sick time, or those who accumulate numerous public complaints. The biggest application of IT in terms of strategic planning involves patrol allocation. Using geographic mapping software, police officials can now calculate the crime problem at the beat level and allocate resources based on need within very small boundaries. This differs greatly from the traditional division of a city into four geographic quadrants or from the static beat allocation that often remains identical for many years, regardless of the changing crime problems.
See also: Administration of Police Agencies, Theories of; Attitudes toward the Police: Measurement Issues; Changing Demographics in Policing; Community-Oriented Policing: Effects and Impacts; Police Standards and Training Commissions; SARA, the Model.
- Bath, Alison. 2003. Accident scene investigation is high tech. Reno Gazette Journal, November 18, 4.
- Dunworth, T. 2005. Information technology and the criminal justice system: An historical overview. In Information technology and the criminal justice system, A. Pattavina, 3-28. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Dussault, R. 1998. GangNet: A new tool in the war on gangs. Government Technology (January): 34-35.
- Glensor, R. W., and K. J. Peak. 2005. Strategic IT planning. Issues in IT: A reader for the busy police chief executive. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.
- Haines, Stephen G. 2000. The systems thinking approach to strategic planning and management. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Helms, D. 2002. Closing the barn door: Police counterterrorism after 9/11 from the analyst’s perspective. Crime Mapping News (Police Foundation Newsletter) 4: 1-5.
- Pilant, L. 1997. Computerized crime mapping. The Police Chief(Dec.): 58.
- Rogers, D. 1999. Getting crime analysis on the map. Law Enforcement Technology (Nov.): 76-79.
City of Manhattan Beach
Departments » Police Department
Strategic Plan (2019 - 2022)
The 2019-2022 Strategic Plan (PDF) took effect on January 1, 2019 and serves as a road map to guide the Police Department in the delivery of police services to the Manhattan Beach community. Since 2008, MBPD has utilized a three or four-year strategic planning process to establish goals and priorities and to serve as our road map for the future.
Workshops, surveys, and meetings were conducted with supervisors and with sworn and civilian personnel representing every Bureau in the Police Department. A community workshop with community stakeholders was also conducted in preparation for the new strategic plan. As a result of the workshops and planning sessions, four goals were identified:
Within each of these goals are quantifiable and measurable objectives and action items which outline how the Department will work to attain these goals. Strategic plan updates will be posted on the City website and made available to the public every six months.
Goal 1: Community Collaboration Further our community policing efforts by creating additional opportunities for positive and meaningful interactions with members of our community
Goal 2: Proactive Crime Fighting Strategies Continue to develop strategies to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in Manhattan Beach
Goal 3: Staffing/Recruitment Use creative and innovative recruitment methods to attract the most talented employees
Goal 4: Employee Development Foster a supportive culture that helps employees grow and utilize their skills to better serve the community
The men and women of the Manhattan Beach Police Department are proud to serve our community, and with this document as a guide, we will strive to achieve an even higher level of service.
View the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan (PDF)
View the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan Update (PDF)
Previous Strategic Plans
2016-2018 Three-Year Strategic Plan (PDF)
2013-2015 Three-Year Strategic Plan (PDF)
2008-2012 Four-Year Strategic Plan (PDF)
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Evolution of management thought, models of strategic planning, the essential elements of strategic planning, strategic planning in the fbi.
This article has described the benefits of strategic planning for law enforcement agencies and outlined some of the steps necessary to perform the essential elements of strategic planning. Effective American law enforcement is a goal to which all Americans are entitled. Although there are no magic panaceas or guarantees of effectiveness, strategic planning is a straightforward administrative approach with a proven track record. All law enforcement officials are encouraged to consider this approach as they guide their organizations into the future.
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