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Strategic Planning Process Highlight: The Internal Assessment

An important component of any strategic plan is an accurate internal assessment of the organization. It combines data analysis with qualitative information and analysis to formulate an accurate profile of the historical performance.  Along with the external assessment, it establishes the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and identifies competitive advantages and disadvantages that serve as a springboard to strategic planning activities.  The internal assessment has five main components:

1.     Review role statements and organizational framework

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Complete a high-level review to determine whether the organization does as it says it will do in terms of its mission, vision, and value statements and whether its structure and processes allow it to achieve its purpose and business aims.  The review includes an assessment of program development and financial performance, as well as review of the governance and management structures.

2.     Analyze characteristics and utilization trends

Inventory and profile the top programs and services of an organization, (top 75 to 80 percent as measured by volume or financial contribution). Each should have a profile that includes capacity, volumes, and key resource attributes for the past three to five years.  Profiling low-volume or poorly performing programs and services may also be worthwhile as a prelude to considering downsizing or divestiture.

3.     Conduct primary market research

Market research has two primary purposes: (1) to gather pertinent information on the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and its competitors and (2) to involve organization leadership constructively and broadly early in the strategic planning process.  Begin with a review of any primary market research from within the past one to three years, and initiate any additional interviews and surveys as needed (targets typically include board members, physicians, other health professionals, upper and middle management staff, and employees).

4.     Analyze other critical resources

Resource analysis generally focuses on facilities, equipment, and staff to identify major assets and liabilities.  Comparison to industry norms and competitors is appropriate.

5.     Analyze financial performance and position

Profile the financial performance of the organization for the past three to five years and compare to industry norms and competitors. If the organization has already prepared future financial projections for the next three to five years, these should be included in the analysis.

The product of the internal assessment should be a high-level summary of the conclusions made as a result of the analysis, with modest narration/highlighting of key points and a minimal amount of charts and tables, (considerable detail may be supplied in supporting documents). This summary will allow multiple stakeholders to quickly and easily understand the current state of the organization, creating a solid foundation for subsequent strategy development.