In its capacity as management consultant over the last 3 decades, IDEAS has done strategic planning with a variety of organizations including microfinance institutions (MFIs). The planning process starts with a diagnostic and often uses a number of the evaluation techniques that are listed in other parts of this web site. For example, if IDEAS has done an impact evaluation on an MFI it would use the information gathered and the analysis to help the MFI create a strategic plan to improve their level of impact. When IDEAS uses market research as prelude to strategic planning, it then uses the results to help the organization plan how to take advantage of niche markets that were discovered during that research. Another technique that IDEAS uses for gathering information prior to strategic planning is the balanced scorecard. Data is gathered during initial workshops with the organization. For more information about the tools IDEAS uses for evaluation and strategic planning, see Toolkits and Links.
IDEAS does strategic planning for networks containing multiple organizations as well as for individual organizations. For example, FINCA International hired IDEAS to do strategic planning for a 5-year period with its affiliates throughout Latin America from Mexico to Ecuador. IDEAS worked with each management team to identify key lessons learned during the previous 5 years and elements they wanted to focus on during the next 5 years. A series of workshops was held with field staff, the leaders of branch offices and central office staff. Using a format negotiated with the network, IDEAS analyzed all of the data plus secondary data about the country and industry competitors. They then drafted a plan that was presented to management for its input and suggested changes. Finally, IDEAS worked to harmonize the first year’s operational plan with the overall strategic plan format and framework.
Strategic planning must be defined individually with each organization, as each has different requirements. As with evaluation, IDEAS prefers a highly participatory strategic planning process that involves the organization’s staff and board. That ensures that they “own” the final plan and feel good about implementing it over the next 3 to 5 years. For additional information about strategic planning services, please contact IDEAS.