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Every Successful Organization has a Plan, Bufe Says
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 7:00 AM

Every successful organization has a plan and knows where it is heading in the future. Credit unions are no different. According to Credit Union Resources’ Howard Bufe, strategic planning gives an organization a road map to follow. In the following Q&A, Bufe shares with Leaguer readers his insight on strategic planning.

Question: Why is strategic planning so important for credit unions?

Bufe: Strategic planning is a critical component of the success of the credit union.  It’s time set aside for the visionaries to stop and focus on the future of the credit union and identify the things they need to address, discuss growth strategies and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Question: What should a credit union expect to get out of strategic planning?

Bufe: The outcome of a strategic planning session is three to five strategic initiatives of focus for the credit union to define objectives and formulate strategies to accomplish the initiatives.

Question: How often should a credit union conduct strategic planning?

Bufe: Depending on the size and or the complexity of the credit union will determine how often they would conduct a formal planning session, anywhere from one to three years.  It’s important to realize that you may not conduct a formal session every year, but you should review it for relevance on an annual basis.  Monitor it on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the credit union.

Question: Who should be involved in the process?

Bufe: Typically the board and senior staff are involved in the actual planning session, but it’s important to incorporate input from all levels of staff to gain important and potential game changing thoughts and ideas.  The plan should be drilled down to all levels of staff to gain buy-in.

Question: What is the difference between a balanced scorecard and a traditional strategic planning session?

Bufe: The balanced scorecard focuses on four perspectives: 1) knowledge and growth perspective, 2) internal processes perspective, 3) member perspective, and 4) financial perspective.

Traditional planning identifies three to five key areas or strategic initiatives to strategically move the credit union in the direction desired by the visionaries.

Question: How does a credit union determine which is more appropriate for their organization?

Bufe: Both work great for any asset size credit union.  Balanced scorecard will be more labor intensive up front but reaps great rewards.

Question: How common is it for a credit union to use someone internally to facilitate the strategic planning session, and what are the pros and cons of using an internal person?

Bufe: It is fairly common for someone internally to conduct the planning session. Someone internally is more aware of the personality and inter-workings of the credit union, although it can be limiting having someone internally facilitate the session due to internal politics and it limits the ability of the internal facilitator to fully participate in the session.

Question: What are the top three benefits of bringing in an external person to conduct a credit union’s strategic planning session?

Bufe: External facilitator can bring fresh ideas to the session, broach topics that may be sensitive and allows all internal personnel to fully participate in the session.

Question: What can a credit union expect to pay to bring in someone to facilitate a strategic planning session?

Bufe: Cost is based on asset size and complexity of the credit union along with the length and location of the session (i.e. travel expense).  It’s important for credit unions to realize there are resources available to assist with cost, including a grant from the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation.

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