Durham’s Got It! A New Strategic Plan, A New System for Managing It

“Since implementing the strategic plan, there’s been more of a collaborative effort. We’ve seen better communication between departments, a stronger partnership with the county, and more opportunities to engage with our residents.”

The City of Durham, NC has blossomed into a model city, but for years, it operated without a strategic plan.

However, during the economic downturn and with budgets squeezed, Durham’s city manager, Thomas Bonfield, convinced elected officials that the time was right to commence the strategic planning process. Multiple teams worked together to gather input from employees and constituents, and to define the city’s core products, services, customers, and strategic goals.

From Plan To Action

Once the citywide plan was in place, leaders needed a way to manage it and ensure accountability. They appointed a goal champion and a vice chair to own each goal. These individuals met with Strategic Plan Project Manager Jay Reinstein every two weeks to check plan milestones and progress on initiatives.

In addition, strategy execution required the participation of every city department. Eight departments were selected to pilot departmental strategic plans, identifying objectives, measures, and initiatives that aligned to the city’s strategic goals.

Putting A Premium On Performance Measurement

But Durham also needed a system for managing performance data—not only to track progress but also to communicate and maintain alignment. Above all, the city’s leaders needed a way to communicate to its residents. ClearPoint was implemented to help Durham address these needs.

Durham has long reported its departmental budget measures to the public through its budget document posted on the city’s website. With the advent of its strategic plan and ClearPoint system, Durham has taken transparency to a new level: publishing comprehensive strategic performance measures for all of its goals online, in dashboard form.

Enabling City/County Partnership

While municipal and county governments typically struggle to communicate and collaborate, the city and county strategic plans have fostered newfound cooperation. The partnership enables the two governments to pool resources, reduce or eliminate duplication of effort, and deliver a higher level of service to Durham residents.

With data now driving decision making, “it’s all about results,” Reinstein says. Thanks to leaders and a staff who are “focused and passionate about making Durham a great place to live, work, and play” the city’s strategic plan continues to keep the organization moving in the right direction.


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