Strategic planning practices at plan international Kenya
The purpose of this study was to determine the strategic planning practices at Plan International, Kenya Office (Plan Kenya) and the factors that influence such practices. The study was done through a case study of Plan Kenya. Plan Kenya is a branch of Plan International Inc., which according to the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act, 1990, is an international NGO. There were 5,461 NGOs as at August 2008 registered by the NGO Co-ordination Board and the number was growing at a rate of 400 per annum. All these NGOs depend on the donations for their survival. This has created stiff competition for donations from foreign governments, corporate and individual donors. In order to improve competitiveness, NGOs are becoming more organized in the way they conduct business. Strategic planning practices are being adopted by NGOs as a demonstration of good planning practices and accountability. The study found out that strategic planning practices are applied consistently at Plan Kenya through the performance of all the five critical components. The five critical components in strategic planning are; the formulation of vision and mission statements, performing situation analysis, evaluation and making strategic choices, implementation of strategies and evaluation and control of strategy implementation. Plan Kenya performs all the four of the five in great in a much formalized way. However, the vision and mission statements are formulated by the parent organization for implementation by all Plan International offices worldwide. The whole process is well documented in the internal documents. There are number factors that influence the strategic planning at Plan Kenya. Those found to have greater influence are; Control by the parent organization, the donor requirements and emerging approaches to development, the prevailing political environment and the strategic teams’ professional interests and their development inclination. It is recommended that the organization place more emphasis on factors that improve on the end result and be conscious of the strategic planning practices which may result in less than strategic choices. The study found the recommendations discussed in the following as key to strategic planning practices at Plan Kenya. The time taken and the resources allocated to the process may be reduced without affecting the strategic planning outcomes adversely. The time taken to complete the last two strategic planning processes ranged between one and half year to two years. This is excessive given the life of the strategic plan is only five years. Equally, the “participatory” situation analysis and evaluation is very involving and costly and contribute to the long time taken to complete the strategic planning process. The study recommends that a smaller team take the process through and only share the draft strategic choices with the larger team for discussion. The influence brought about by the strategic team due to the personal interest and professional inclination can be moderated by the involvement of an independent consultant and by conscious awareness by the strategic team to guard against the undue influence. The study recommends that the final product be audited before approval to ensure that any adverse influence is moderated before the approval of the final strategic plans. The influence by the donor, the parent organization and the political environment are inherent. However, it is recommended that the strategic team purposely ignore the influence of the three parties in the initial stages of strategic planning process and only consider them after making the strategic choices. The final product can then be moderated to take care of the donors’ interest, parent organization control and the prevailing political situation. This process has a greater chance of having choices closer to being strategic than otherwise. The study observed that there was a high staff turnover at the on-set of structure review process. Plan Kenya is a great follower of “structure follows strategy” principle fronted by Chandler (1962) and involves staff in the exercise. Despite, the transparency and the sharing of the process, stress builds up on staff due to the uncertainties of whether their positions would be declared redundant. Most of the staff who are unable to wait for the final product, and usually the most qualified look for jobs elsewhere and exit the organization. The study recommends that the process of strategic planning and structure review be shortened to minimize stress and anxiety on staff.