Why a HOA Strategic Plan is Key to Your Homeowners Association
Your HOA's strategic plan is a high-level planning tool and document designed to capture your organization's values and goals while providing direction and motivation to your members. Ideally, the HOA board drafts the strategic plan through a progressive series of planning sessions. Once the plan is ready, the HOA board can share it with the greater HOA community and gather feedback. Finally, the association implements the plan, matching volunteers to specific projects. To keep the strategic plan fresh and relevant, the board should revisit and revise the plan at least once a year.
The development of your HOA strategic plan will come together through a series of highly collaborative sessions with your fellow board members. To ensure the most organized plan, aim to complete a new stage of the plan during each subsequent meeting, and agree to a specific agenda at the outset of each session. Roughly speaking, you will want to devote the first two or three sessions to establishing your HOA's overall purpose and vision. To help focus the discussion, it's often a good idea to use trusted strategic planning tools. One of the most widely-adopted tools used by strategic planners is SWOT analysis. Planners generally draw a square matrix with four squares filled with their organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (hence, SWOT).
Your mission and vision statements
Your initial two or three planning sessions should culminate in strong mission and vision statements. While your mission statement defines your purpose as an HOA, your vision statement defines how you envision fulfilling that purpose. You can think of these two statements as the banners for your HOA. They should be both meaningful and memorable, serving to guide and inspire the greater HOA community.
The master list
Now that your mission and vision statements have defined the overall values and direction of your plan, it's time to shift your attention to the tactical details. For this second series of planning sessions, you will want to focus on creating a master list of specific tactical goals for your HOA. Then attach a specific project or action plan to each goal. At this stage, some planners make use of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. to remember to keep their organization's goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-constrained.
Once the board has completed the master list of goals and projects, it's time to prioritize them. The prioritization should reflect the values you expressed in your mission and vision statements. With a prioritized list of goals and projects in hand, you are now ready to write an initial draft of your strategic plan.
Sharing your plan
Once the draft of your HOA's strategic plan is complete, it's time for the entire association to look it over and weigh in. You may distribute copies by email; post the plan to your HOA group or message board online; distribute hard copies to each member; place a copy in a shared area of the community, such as a clubhouse; or all of the above. However, once you've shared your plan with the greater group, it's a good idea to call a community meeting to gather direct feedback. This will also provide a venue to work out who's ready to volunteer for the various prioritized projects that will bring the plan to fruition.
Monitoring and revising
As the weeks and months pass, don't forget to monitor your plan's progress closely and keep the momentum up. To breathe new life into your HOA's strategic plan, be sure to schedule a session to review and revise it with your fellow board members at least once a year. If there are any significant changes, redistribute the updated strategic plan to the greater HOA community. Then call for an association meeting to gather fresh feedback and match volunteers to any new projects.
The virtue of having a plan
A strategic plan is a useful way to organize and communicate your HOA's mission, vision, goals, and tasks. However, to ensure you have a coherent and compelling plan, it's important to take the time to meet with your fellow board members in a series of productive planning sessions. Your meetings should provide ample time to perform a SWOT analysis; write up a meaningful and memorable mission and vision statements; and create a master list of prioritized, SMART goals and projects. Once your HOA's strategic plan is ready, share it with the greater HOA community, gather feedback and match volunteers to specific projects. Finally, don't forget to monitor those projects against the goals set out in your plan, and revise it at least once a year.