Developing a Goal and Plan
Prior to starting any activity or event, it is essential to plan correctly. A bit of work at the start will save a lot of work later and could prevent the whole project from failing. Creating a project goal and project plan are important aspects of the planning process.
To establish a project goal, answer the following questions:
- What is the overall purpose of the project?
- Who is it aimed at?
- Is the project linked to overall goals of the organisation? How?
- How do you know there is a need for this project?
Having answers to these questions will help with applying for funding, gathering support from others or getting approval from a board to run the activity.
A common way to check your goal is to ask if it is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely). That means asking yourself the following questions and changing your goals so they are:
- Specific – Is what you’re looking to achieve clear?
- Measurable – Is there a clear way to measure success? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
- Actionable – Is there a clear series of steps to take to reach your goal?
- Realistic – Is it possible to reach this goal considering the resources available to your team?
- Timely – When will the goal be accomplished?
It is also beneficial to ask if the goal is detailed enough so that someone who isn’t a part of your team would know what needs to be done and how.
Once the goal has been identified as SMART, it’s time to start planning how to achieve it. The next step is to break it down into parts. Ask yourself:
- Exactly how will the objective be achieved?
- What tasks should be done?
- Who could do them?
- Does the project add to other work done in the community? If so, how can we link to the other work?
- What extra skills will the project team need to do these activities? Where can you find people with these skills?
- Who will do it? What resources are needed?
- When will it start? When will it end? When will each activity need to be done, including preparation and evaluation of the program?
- How is it going?
- How will it be measured?
- How will you know if you have met your goals?
- If you do the activity again, how will you know if you have done it better?
Once you have thought through and answered these questions, you should be ready to start putting the plan into action.
Your local council goes through a similar planning process to make sure that there are enough services in their area. They look at statistics and conduct surveys to find out what the needs of their area are, they then put it all together in a ‘social plan’. You can use your council’s social plan to find out what the needs of your community are and what the council thinks there is a need for.
Council websites usually have information about the council’s social plan. The following link will help you find your council’s website if it is located in Australia – www.alga.asn.au
Accountability and Teamwork
Organising bodies often have a weekly team meeting where issues are discussed and plans are made. Team meetings should be chaired and recorded to make them as short and effective as possible. Team meetings will ensure that the activity is planned and managed as effectively as possible, see the Running Meetings section for more details.
In these meetings, the following are discussed:
- Achievements – What the worker has done each day in the past week.
- Activities – What the worker plans to do each day in the next week.
Next week’s plans can then be reviewed at the next meeting and if everything was done as planned, the worker can show that the plans have been achieved or can discuss why they haven’t and perhaps add them to this week’s plans/activities.
A timeline, side by side with the meeting minutes or boardwalk reports, helps plan activities over a longer period. The following download features a sample plan (second tab) of a timeline for a group organising a ‘Reclaim the Night Street March’.
6 Month Planner (39 KB)
You’ll notice that individual tasks, taken from the planning meeting minutes, are listed in the left margin (the yellow section). To the right is the timeline, with columns for each week. Next to each individual task is a grey line, beginning in the week that the task is due to start and ending in the week that the task is due to end. It is easy for both the worker and the team leader to see what tasks are due now, what is coming up and what should have been completed. In this example, the two red lines show today’s date, so we can see that it is week 3.
The planner (first tab) has space for you to plan activities or events over a period of 6 months and it includes full instructions. The planner creates the timeline for you if you enter the dates. Alternatively, you can print off a blank one and fill it in.
Keeping Track of Resources
Any organisation that wants to use its resources responsibly must make sure to keep good track of them. When planning activities or events it is important to identify what will be needed. Resources include:
A good management system for equipment and vehicles would make sure that they are maintained systematically to protect from damage or loss, potentially reducing maintenance and operation costs. The management system should also record which assets the organisation currently owns, any maintenance the equipment has had and when it is due to be replaced. When new equipment is purchased, a maintenance schedule should be organised before it is used. Manuals should be checked to see what regular maintenance, if any, is suggested by the manufacturer and warranty forms should be filled in, posted and recorded.
A maintenance schedule is a planned way of making sure that the equipment is looked after properly. The schedule could include things like:
- Weekly cleaning of the phone/fax.
- Six monthly servicing of the vehicle.
- Monthly oiling of sports equipment.
- Six monthly changing of smoke alarm batteries.
Whatever maintenance is needed, someone needs to be responsible for making sure it happens. This person needs to have some sort of diary to record into the future when these things will happen, they should not rely on their memory. Most administrative staff and many youth service teams have a diary system to record when maintenance needs to happen or if the service is printing weekly boardwalk forms or team meeting agendas a long way in advance, this could also be used as a reminder to do the maintenance.
As well as maintaining equipment, the organisation should keep track of what equipment it owns. Most organisations keep a short record for each of the valuable things it owns (one page or so) in a folder called an asset register. A simple asset register records basic information such as:
- Whether repairs are covered by a warranty.
- Whether maintenance is overdue.
- If it has been repaired a number of times (in which case it might be worth replacing it).
- How much it costs (this is useful for the accountant for tax purposes).
- Where to get it repaired.
- Where the instruction manual is kept.
This sample asset register can make it easier to keep track of these issues.
Assets Register (102 KB)
Organisations usually have a policy that says which things need to be recorded in the asset register (often anything over $100 in value) so that they don’t end up with a page for every stapler.