Action Project


University of Saint Mary





Planned project kickoff date: 2005-12-01
Target completion date: 2006-06-30
Actual completion date:

A. Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:

Develop a Comprehensive Strategic Plan with a Clear Vision


B. Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:

strategic plan will integrate our mission with new strategies and action plans resulting in a clearly defined and innovative institutional vision for the next five years.  The timing of the strategic plan is critical as we face several challenges in the near future.  We continue to struggle for fiscal stability for a variety of reasons.  Our current capacity does not support our long-term sustainability.  The strategic planning process will result in a blueprint we can use to meet these challenges.  Completion of the strategic plan, which will include specific goals, actions and metrics, will provide the leadership team with guidance on how to successfully meet these challenges.

C. Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:

Primary Category: Planning Continuous Improvement

D. Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:

During our AQIP self assessment process we identified a need for significant changes in how we operate best determined through good planning processes.  University wide input into our “Strategy for Action” worksheets overwhelmingly confirmed the need for innovative direction, vision and focus which was a recurring theme touching many different areas of the worksheet.  Also, our most recent strategic plan has been completed.

E. List the organizational areas - -institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project:

A comprehensive strategic plan will affect the entire USM community including all departments.  Once the plan is complete, specific actions will impact certain departments and programs.

F. Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:

Long-term planning.  Structured strategic planning process.  Data based monitoring of strategic plan implementation progress.  Regular reporting on impact of strategic plan.  Ongoing use of strategic planning committee.

G. Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):

Our current strategic plan has been completed.  Our current financial status makes it imperative to complete a new strategic plan in a timely manner.  We believe we can complete the development of a stategic plan in about seven months.  Completion is timed with a quarterly Board of Trustees meeting in June in which the plan will be presented for their final approval.

H. Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:

The strategic planning process is being facilitated by an outside consultant.  Timelines have been established to ensure completion of the plan by the intended deadline.  A Strategic Planning Committee has been formed and meets weekly to work on the plan.  Regular reports are being provided to the Board of Trustees including milestones reached (e.g. SWOT analysis) for Board input.

I. Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:

A completed strategic plan by June 30, 2006 with specific goals.  Goals will be achieved through the documenation of action steps which will include identification of responsible party, timeline(s) and metrics reflecting the completion of the action step.  The report will also include identicatin of resources required to implement the various action steps.

J. Other information (e.g., publicity, sponsor or champion, etc.):

The completion of the strategic plan is a Board of Trustees mandate.

Last Action Project Update: 2006-09-12


A. Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.

The action project kicked off on schedule, December 1, 2005.  A Strategic Planning Committee was formed. With the assistance of an outside consultant we have reaffirmed out Mission statement, completed an extensive environmental scan from which we performed the SWOT analysis and determined the mandates for our services.  From this gathering of information, we defined our key strategic initiatives. Only after identifying our strategic initiatives did we develop our Vision statement.  

We are currently in the final stages of completing actions steps to carry out those initiatives.  We are also drafting the final report and preparing for the rolling out of the strategic plan to the USM community.  Final board approval of the strategic plan is expected in late October.

Our original completion date of June 30, 2006 has been postponed to October 31, 2006.  The additional time was necessary once we identified Allied Health as our new niche. We had a steep learning curve.

B. Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.

The Committee is chaired by a member of USM’s Board of Trustees and includes two additional board members, the Administrative Council (USM’s executive management team) and representatives from faculty and professional staff.  The Committee has and continues to meet on a regular basis to review work completed to date.  

Results of USM’s extensive environmental scan were shared  and processed with the entire USM community  for a full day in January. The next day entire university community from the president to the enviromental service staff went through a full day SWOT process. The input and buy-in gained by this two day process has been very valuable.   In addition, the USM community was involved in the narrowing of the individual SWOT items into a manageable number of key areas for further analysis through an electronic survey.

The Board of Trustees and the USM community have been receiving regular updates, generally at the completion of each major stage, on the progress of the strategic plan.

C. Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.

We are in the final stages of reviewing the action steps necessary to implement the strategic initiatives.  Our next step is to complete the strategic plan report and make a formal presentation to the Board of Trustees on October 27, 2206 and request their approval. Once approved by the Board, this project will be declared complete. The next action projects will come from the strategic plan.  We will then provide regular reports to the Board and the university community on the progress of strategic plan implementation.

D. Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.

We found forming a Strategic Planning Committee with representatives from all segments of the university to be an effective practice.  Such representation was important to obtain a broader perspective and to achieve “buy in” across all segments.

We also found involving the entire university community in the SWOT analysis to be an effective practice.  Again, we were able to obtain a broad perspective as we determined our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  In addition, the community had a clear understanding of where the university finds itself today and we begin to address the challenges of the future.  We believe this will aid the community in understanding the direction the strategic plan will take USM. There was a very strong overall call from the community for focus. In order to ensure we picked the right focus, we put off developing a vision statement until we had identified our key initiatives. There are only two. This allowed creative thinking to happen and did not result in a plan that simple said “Do the same old things, but better.”

E. What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?

As we complete the action steps we feel are necessary to implement our strategic initiatives, there remains concern as to whether the steps defined to date are too broad or too specific.  Also, there are concerns as to whether the action steps are strategic or merely operational in nature.  The committee continues to review and refine these steps to address these concerns.

F. If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help to stimulate progress on this action project, explain your need(s) here and tell us who to contact and when?