Strategic Plan versus Operating Plan

It is important to understand the difference between an "operational plan" and a "strategic plan".  For the purpose of this discussion, goals are for 3-5 years and objectives for for the current year.  Initiatives/tasks are smaller work units within the year to achieve a specific objective; each annual objective is planned to contribute to achieving a specific long range goal.  

1. The strategic plan is about setting a direction for the chapter, developing a vision/mission and long range goals  and identifying a range of strategies to pursue so that the chapter might achieve its goals. The strategic plan is a general guide for the management of the chapter according to the priorities and goals of of its leadership and membership. The strategic plan DOES NOT stipulate the day-to-day tasks and activities involved in running the organisation.

2. On the other hand the Operational/Operating Plan DOES present detailed information specifically to direct people to perform the day-to-day tasks required in the running the chapter. Chapter leadership should frequently refer to the operational plan in carrying out their everyday work. The Operational Plan provides the what, who, when and how much:

  • what - the yearly objective and tasks that must be undertaken​ to achieve the goals of the strategic plan.
    • ​To ensure the chapter members' interests are understood, it is recommended that a survey be conducted of all members early in the 4th quarter to provide valuable insight for planning the following year. ​​
  • who - the persons who have responsibility of each of the initiatives/tasks to achieve each annual objective
  • when - the timelines in which initiatives/tasks must be completed
  • how much - the amount of financial resources provided to complete each initiative/task

​The difference between and operational and strategic plans:

Strategic PlanOperational Plan

A general guide for the long term management of the chapter

A specific plan for the use of the organisation's resources in pursuit of the strategic plan

Suggests strategies to be employed in pursuit of the chapter's goals

Details annual objectives with  specific activities and events (initiatives/tasks) to be undertaken to implement goals in the strategic plan

Is a plan for the pursuit of the chapter mission in the longer term (3 - 5 years)

Is a plan for the day-to-day management of the chapter (one year time frame)

A strategic plan defines then framework for chapter leadership to formulate an annual operational plan

An operational plan should be formulated to achieve goals in the strategic plan

The strategic plan, once formulated, tends not to significantly change every year

Operational plans may significantly differ from year to year as objectives are defined and met toward achieving the longer term goals

The development of the strategic plan is a shared responsibility involving  all the chapter leadership

The operational plan is produced by the officers and directors of the chapter who then lead the implementation

The purpose of the Operational Plan is to provide the chapter with a clear picture of their tasks and responsibilities in line with the annual objectives to achieve goals contained within the Strategic Plan.

Basically, the Operational Plan is a plan to accomplish annual objectives by way of initiatives/tasks, all toward achieving goals contained within the Strategic Plan.

It is a management tool that facilitates the co-ordination of the organisation's resources (human, financial and physical) so that goals in the strategic plan can be achieved.

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