Planning: Where are we going?


Using your SWOT, identify critical success factors, including barriers. This will facilitate efficient goal setting, enabling you to create a handful of short and long-term goals. Aim for turning opportunities into programs and overcoming weaknesses by using strengths. Don’t waste time worrying about factors that cannot be controlled. Instead, address them creatively.

Identify Goals

Keep in mind the SMART method of goal setting, and make all goals and objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action - Oriented/Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timed 

Next, identify the strategies to reach those goals. Which strategies align best with your values, staff and budget? What tactics will you employ and how will you evaluate your progress? Goals can be adjusted. Keep an open mind and hold yourself accountable for revisiting your goals.

These same methods can be adapted to working with your athletes when setting their personal goals.

Operational planning (current fiscal year)

Annual operational plans are essential management tools in applying resources to activities. Operational plans will assist club leaders with accurate financial forecasting and assessment of performance relative to goals in all areas of the club.

There are two important aspects of planning an operations budget. The core budget is the budget for current expenses, as distinct from financial transactions or permanent improvements. The core budget also pertains to essential allocations that maintain and sustain continuity in the club structure. Initiatives are new projects, equipment or staff that will serve to improve the club’s performance, but require a request for new funding.

Club activities (core budget or operating budgets)

After the statement of club goals, the next section of a club plan addresses the club activities necessary to achieve club goals. It is here that a description of programs, staffing actions and other club activities are presented and discussed. An activity is any action undertaken using currently funded resources that directly support the achievement of club goals.

The range of activities that a club may undertake can vary considerably. Such actions as hiring additional staff, buying computers, writing and distributing a training manual, fleshing out an athletic pipeline or developing an improved marketing plan can all be classified as activities, as long as they are in direct support of club goals and can be accomplished within current funding.

Club leaders should be careful to avoid pursuing activities that do not require additional funding, but are not in support of goals.

Club initiatives (capital budget)

Initiatives are new actions that would make programs more effective and successful but cannot be provided for within available resources. Individual program initiatives compete for any additional company resources, so it is essential that each initiative be prioritized and described in detail. The detail of each initiative should include, as a minimum, the following:

  1. The dollars required to fund the initiative, including any out-year funding that might be required.
  2. A description of how the initiative will enhance achievement of the club’s goals.
  3. If the initiative describes a new goal, include a description of the new goal and the activities required to support the achievement of the goal.

Long term planning (five-year strategic plan)

Strategic business planning is a process of mapping out how a club can successfully achieve the goals set by the club. Five-year strategic plans embrace visionary thinking and planning in order to provide long-term financial planning while carefully assessing capital investments. Your five-year strategic plan is a living document that must be updated periodically on the basis of past and current performance and estimates of availability of future year resources.

USSA clubs aspire to improve athletic performance, increase membership, raise funds, attract and retain volunteers, develop coaches and officials, enhance facilities and maintain good financial and governance management practices.


The strategies likely will be expressed in high-level conceptual terms and priorities. In addition to developing action plans, the implementation phase involves identifying the required resources and putting into place necessary changes. Implementation requires identifying, for each strategic objective in both your operational and capital budgets and plans, the following details:

  • What? (Is the strategic objective, and how does it support the mission?)
  • Who? (Is responsible?)
  • How? (Is this going to be implemented?)
  • When? (Are progress benchmarks going to be reached?)
  • How much? (Money or other resources will this take?)

Control and accountability

Once implemented, the results of the strategy need to be measured and evaluated, with changes made as required to keep the plan on track. Control systems (such as a clear what, who, how, when and how much model) should be developed and implemented to facilitate this monitoring. Standards of performance are set, the actual performance measured and appropriate action taken to ensure success. These key performance indicators must always be measurable!


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