Creating a new municipal Balanced Scorecard and strategic plan is no simple task—but when citizens are the focal point in the planning process, the finished product can shine. We talked with Adrienne Royals, the senior analyst for the city of Germantown, Tennessee, to learn more about how the city developed its “Germantown 2030” strategic plan—and what other you can learn from this municipal Balanced Scorecard example.
How did you decide to implement a new strategic plan?
Germantown’s city administrator determined that creating a new strategic plan was critical, as our “Germantown 2020” strategic plan was over 10 years old and the assumptions were outdated. With the full support of the mayor and the Board of Mayor and Alderman, the process for developing a new strategic plan began in January 2015.
Who was involved in developing the Germantown 2030 plan?
The city administrator and his assistant spent months researching planning processes to come up with an overall framework for developing the new plan. Alongside the budget and performance team, the city administrator then “poked holes” in the framework and brainstormed. The focus was always that the process should place high importance on citizen input.
After this, a year-long plan for strategic development was laid out. Those involved determined every step and meeting throughout that year to ensure the strategy would be a priority, and shared this development process with the department heads. The city administrator made it clear that the department heads would play a large role in facilitating the strategic development meetings in their specific key performance area (or KPA).
How did you gather citizen input?
Throughout 2015, city administration facilitated a group of 30 steering committee members through development of the Germantown 2030 strategic plan. Hours upon hours of meetings later, a clear vision for the Germantown of 2030 emerged.
Close to 200 residents gathered for a town hall meeting to unveil the vision. Working in small groups, residents, business owners, and stakeholders brainstormed about specific parts of the vision statement. They added details to the steering committee work and provided helpful input for the task forces that would be responsible for the next level of work.
The next phase of the process engaged another 100 residents who worked to develop action plans and performance measures around nine key performance areas. In total, members of the community invested approximately 2,000 hours in the Germantown Forward 2030 plan.
Did you also know from the beginning that you’d be developing a public-facing community dashboard?
Yes. Germantown’s city administrator wanted the public to be able to see the strategic plan—particularly since they’d been so involved and given so much feedback. The goal is to continue improving our transparency with citizens so they could see the progression toward their goals for the City.
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How do you keep your strategic plan up to date?
We found that Balanced Scorecard software is the best way to keep up with our quarterly reporting. Those involved in the strategy can enter their data quarterly, and the city administrator can easily pull up all the data in one place. And since our community dashboard is linked to our software, we only have to add information in one place.
What benefits have you seen since implementing Germantown 2030?
For one, our strategic plan brings focus to the decision-making process. Additionally, it makes budgeting simple, as we know what programs and initiatives are tied to the strategy (and thus need funding). The same goes from an operational standpoint: We are able to clearly see what we need to accomplish operationally because it’s linked to the strategy.
What advice would you give municipalities developing a new strategic plan?
First, you absolutely need to have a plan. Even if it’s not fun or glamorous, it’s critical; the best thing we did was develop and execute a strategic planning process from the very beginning. For example, knowing the topic of every strategy meeting ahead of time will prevent the conversation from derailing.
Second, you have to realize that community ownership is very important to this process. Our citizen steering committee took pride and ownership in the strategic plan—which translated to a more accepted strategic plan overall. You can’t push a plan down your citizens’ throats—it needs to be something they want.
A big thanks to Adrienne Royals of Germantown, Tennessee, for discussing Germantown 2030 with us! If this municipal Balanced Scorecard example interests you in giving your city a leg up with a community dashboard, check out this free design template to get you started.