Below are six suggested components supportive of meeting CARF strategic integrated planning standards.

1.  A written strategic plan.  As per standard #3 in the strategic planning standards. Its gotta be written folks!

2. A strategic plan that is reflective of what the surveyors are seeing and hearing during the survey. As opposed to something that was completed just prior to, and for the survey. After the surveyors spend a few days with you, your staff, and persons served, they will have a sense of what your planning documents should contain.

3. A strategic plan that is reflective of all elements involved in operating a successful business. As required by standard #1 in the strategic planning standards.

Elements include:

  • Expectations of Persons Served: The plan should be reflective of, and influenced by what you know about the needs of the person you serve.
  • Expectations of other Stakeholders: Same as above for all other stakeholders.
  • Competitive Environment: How are you planning to handle what is happening, and/or is projected to happen, in your targeted market. What is your plan to keep up, move ahead, or stay ahead of your competitors?
  • Financial Opportunities: What markets, revenue sources, services, etc., present opportunities for increased financial growth? What are your priorities in this area and how are you going to pursue them?
  • Financial Threats: Your risk management plan should assist with identifying financial threats. In addition, regulatory and legislative issues typically are at the top of the list in this area (and again, should be present in your risk management process).
  • Organizational Capabilities: Where are you in terms of needed human resources, your physical plant, technology, etc., to realize future growth and prosperity?
  • Service Area Needs: Do you know what the needs are of the population within your service area? How do you obtain this information and, once obtained, how are you going to use it strategically?
  • Demographics of the Service Area: How have you obtained this? Through local school enrollment statistics, review of United Way disbursements, state statistics related to your service population, census statistics, etc.?
  • Relationships with External Stakeholders: What relationships are vital to the survival and growth of your business? What potential relationships may be necessary to support you in terms of what you know about changing business/regulatory conditions?
  • Regulatory Environment: This area encompasses many of the other areas under consideration (financial threats, external stakeholders, competitive environment, etc.). The national health care act passed in 2010 would be a primary example of what would be critical to consider in nearly every decision that goes into your strategic plan.
  • Legislative Environment: Funding, changes in priorities, rules, regulations, laws, etc.

4. A strategic plan that recognizes the importance of rapid advances in technology. The plan should reflect an understanding of current and future technology (especially in the area of communication and record keeping technology) and how it may support the organization and persons served, within the plans’ goals and priorities.

5. A strategic plan that has been reviewed and updated. If you are preparing for your first survey, you are required to apply the standards for six months prior the survey. So, if  you are beginning the process of preparing for accreditation and do not have a written strategic plan, consider drafting a strategic plan early in the process by identifying all informal, or unwritten, strategic plans and documenting them in a structured format (goals, objectives to support the overall goals, targets for meeting goals). Then, just prior to the CARF survey, review, revise, and update your plan based on your original goals and all the input and performance information you have been collecting and reviewing in your application of standards, along with consideration of the 11 elements noted in #3 above.

6. A strategic plan communicated to stakeholders in a manner resulting in some level of understanding of the  plan by employees, persons served, and other stakeholders. The actual plan does not have to be distributed (although that may be required of public not-for-profits); however, it would be expected that people who have a “stake” in your organization’s success have an idea of where you are planning to go in the future. Communicate your organization’s intentions/plans. With the exception of maybe the more enlightened adherents of eastern philosophies, most folks tend to increase their buy-in of a journey if they have an awareness of the planned destination