APWA Book Review

It's Your Move: Strategic Planning for Public Works Agencies
88 pp * 2007 * APWA * William A. Sterling, P.E. * CD-ROM included

The best way to predict your future is to create it. While we cannot control the future, we can help shape it. Strategic planning is a process that will help an organization create its future.

This publication is intended as a starting point for public works managers on strategic planning and resources that may help managers move forward on using this management tool. Strategic planning has been in the private sector for the past few decades. It has been applied in some local governments and state agencies as well. To gain the most useful results, it is necessary to understand the dynamic of developing and applying successful strategic planning programs in a local government organization.

The intended audience of this publication includes public works managers, public works directors, city engineers, and city/county managers. References are made to resources that can potentially be tapped to support a strategic planning effort. The approach and level of detail may vary depending on the goals of the organization and the size of the community, but the information provided in this document gives a common frame of reference for what strategic planning is about, how it relates to other management tools, and how this information may be used by managers of public works programs.

This publication is committed to providing the public works manager with the means to:

  • Manage resources available to the city or region more effectively
  • Set resource management goals by looking at alternatives of providing municipal services
  • Develop a strategic plan to help manage resources.

Public works agencies face many of the same challenges of agencies of yesterday, except the problems are now more complex, costly and regulated. Agencies are trying to cope with doing "more with less," while maintaining productivity and effectiveness.

This book provides a framework for public works professionals to develop a sense of mission, a vision for the future, reporting systems, operational procedures, operating plans and strategic planning documents.

This publication covers:

Challenges Facing Public Works and Agencies - The top ten list of challenges faced by public works agencies is reviewed.

Defining the Terms - Definitions are provided for the terms of strategic planning, performance measurement and benchmarking (among others) and indications are given on how they may be relevant to public works through the use of examples and references available on this topic.

Introduction to Strategic Planning - Covers what strategic planning is, why agencies need strategic planning, elements to be included in the strategic plan, the need for periodic review and modification and the benefits are.

Mission, Vision, and Values Statement - The agency's mission statement is a concise description of the fundamental purpose for which the agency exists. The agency's vision statement describes the vision of the agency's leadership. The entire strategic plan starts with and must consistently relate to the vision statement. The agency's values define how employees should carry out the mission of the agency. They are the culture of the organization.

Performance Measurements - Performance measurements are a key element in determining how well the agency is performing. This section discusses conducting performance measurements, getting started and types of benchmarking.

Levels of Service - Definition of levels of service, capability, categories of services, establishing service levels and period review are discussed in this chapter.

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness - While both efficiency and effectiveness are important, effectiveness is the more important of the two. This section discusses the differences between the two terms.

Organization Goals/Objectives/Action Items - Outlining the goals, objectives and action items in the strategic plan follows no set format in communities. The format should be one that will help inform residents and other stakeholders of what is expected and the progress being made.

Strategic Planning Process - Strategic planning is a process by which an organization attempts to control its destiny rather than allowing future events to do so. This section covers strategic planning, strategic management, total quality management, how to get started, benefits, costs, process, completing the written plan and implementing the plan.

In general, an agency seeking to improve the quality of its program and operations will go through an improvement process that is somehow tied to strategic initiatives. This publication deals with one topic—strategic planning—and how it can prove useful to a public agency.

To obtain your copy, please call the APWA Bookstore at (800) 848-APWA, ext. 5254. Or, for more information on purchasing this publication and other American Public Works Association books, please visit the APWA Bookstore online at www.apwa.net/bookstore.