Kurt Juson, Director of Sales at Envisio, weighs in on what he has discovered are the top 3 municipal strategic planning challenges of city managers.

ICMA 2015 | Municipal Strategic Planning | Envisio

It’s been almost a month since I connected with the attendees of the 2015 ICMA Conference in Seattle, Washington. And, here’s what I learned are the top 3 challenges city managers, CAOs, and deputies face when implementing their city’s strategic and operational plans:

“ALIGNMENT…OR, THE LACK THEREOF”

We all know that successfully implementing a city’s strategic plan requires coordination, collaboration, and communication across all departments. Having said that, it’s not uncommon for city management teams to operate independently or in silos…whereby the only cross-departmental collaboration that occurs is in the form of monthly management meetings.

One city manager openly stated that, “It’s unfortunate when meetings bottleneck around addressing urgent, on-fire items rather than strategic ones.” We couldn’t agree more. Reconnecting conversations back to council priorities and evaluating whether or not departmental activities are actually contributing to the achievement of goals should take precedent over anything else.

“I LACK REAL-TIME VISIBILITY INTO MY PLAN’S PROGRESS”

A deputy CAO from southern California candidly told me that having no real method of tracking the progress of his city’s strategic plan is by far his biggest challenge. Without real-time visibility into the status of your plan, there can be no real-time corrective actions. Many of the managers we spoke with voiced their frustrations over having limited processes in place to track the key metrics that would very quickly inform them of actual progress.

And, when it comes to strategic plan implementation, knowledge is power. For example, managers that are able to keep their pulse on the progress of their plans can quickly redirect resources to high priority projects, put a hold on initiatives that no longer contribute to the achievement of an evolving strategy, and celebrate a job well done for successfully completed objectives. 

“WE HAVE NO SYSTEMS IN PLACE TO HELP US OPERATIONALIZE OUR PLANS”

As one CAO said to me, “We really need a system in place to help tell our story and to share our achievements with council and residents.” In the absence of such a framework, the many moving parts of a city’s strategic plan can easily drift into disorder -- and creating aggregated reports for council can become a massive challenge.

STRATEGIC PLAN IMPLEMENTATION CAN GET MESSY WHEN…

It seems as though all the city managers we met agreed on one thing: Creating a strategic plan is the easy part. It’s the implementation and tracking of it that gets messy. More often than not, webs of spreadsheets ensue, document version control gets out of hand, and important email conversations go “missing” when you need them most. 

Sound familiar? If you face similar challenges, click here and learn how Envisio can simplify the implementation process and help you achieve your strategic goals.