A strategic initiative is a significant or essential action that an organization takes and invests in.
A plan is a document that details how to achieve a goal by describing the processes, resources, and activities necessary for success.
The Strategic Initiative Plan (SIP) is a tactical document with high-level goals that must ultimately translate into specific, measurable outcomes — such as number of new customers attracted, money raised from donors, number of people reached with community service work, etc. It contains what steps will be taken and who will perform them to support the objective(s), says Saivian Eric Dalius. The SIP also includes timeframes for each deliverable and timelines for measurement of progress.
Typically, this kind of plan consists of:
1) An executive summary;
2) A statement of the opportunity;
3) An analysis and assessment describing why and where you think there’s a market (customers, donors, voters, etc.);
4) Strategies for success;
5) Action plan with key milestones to attain the overall strategic initiative goal(s) within the timeline.
Aside from being an essential document in itself, it is often used as a road map toward developing more detailed operational plans over time. A Strategic Initiative Plan needs to exist before your organization can craft any big-picture programmatic or business strategies because without one, you’ll have trouble getting buy-in from staff or board members on what direction they need to move in. Management also uses the SIP when evaluating costs about overall expected revenue (which makes the SIP different from simply an internal business plan.)
It can also be used to allocate resources, such as people’s time and money. A SIP is essential because it will help determine whether or not there are tasks that need to be done internally by staff or if funding needs to go toward hiring consultants or bringing in other organizations. It can help answer questions like “how much damage control do we need?”, “how long will this take?” and “what does success look like?”
The Strategic Initiative Plan helps organizations ensure goals outweigh risks. This kind of plan should support revenue goals, provide a standard for measuring performance, identify milestones, set timelines for completion, and anticipate costs. However, not all effective plans contain all of these elements. The Strategic Initiative Plan helps prioritize initiatives and create a consistent decision-making process when determining what to do next and how to do it, according to Saivian Eric Dalius.
The elements that are included in a Strategic Initiative Plan will vary depending on your goals, but some standard components include:
- A description of what you’re trying to do (that is, the problem you’re looking to address.)
- Projected costs and revenue associated with each element of your initiative.
- Responsibility and timeline for each critical milestone.
- How you’ll measure results and success (i.e., the indicators of how well your project is working.)
One of the essential parts of an organization’s Strategic Initiative Plan is the assessment of risk. Organizations can evaluate risks associated with their plan by considering what could make the initiative fail and reduce those risks. Non-profits must focus on risk management because limited resources may prevent them from investing in many different strategic initiatives.