The Value of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the process organizations use to define a vision for the future and to create a roadmap to get there.

For the Administration & Finance Division (AFD), it will help focus our efforts as a division and increase our impact and ability to support Cal Poly’s mission. With Cal Poly’s draft strategic plan as a guide, our strategic plan will help AFD:

  • remain viable and effective amid constant change within the university
  • align every department and staff level within the division
  • create the conditions for the division to thrive
  • identify and pursue specific measures of success

Share Your Input

This effort will only be successful if we have broad-level participation. It requires synergy and shared purpose so that we can all agree – as a division – where we are heading and how we will get there. In this spirit, we urge you to contribute your thoughts and opinions about AFD and its future.

Throughout the process we will launch several important surveys. Our first one will be available toward the end of March and a link will be sent to everyone. If you’re unable to attend a live session, this will be a great way to share your point of view.

You can also share your comments with the core planning team, your department representative or any member of senior leadership.


The First AFD Strategic Planning Session

On March 17 we held the first AFD strategic planning session. The goal of this initial meeting was to document the external trends that will affect AFD’s operational environment over the next few years. To validate and prioritize these trends, we need your perspective. Please take a few minutes to offer your views. Thank you in advance for your time.

Take the Survey Now

Upcoming Sessions You Can Participate In

If at all possible, please consider attending one or more of the upcoming strategic planning sessions:

Friday, April 14

Vision, Mission & Values | Challenges, Opportunities & Priorities

  • Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Location: Building 21, Room 105A

Lunch will be provided

Friday, May 5

Strategic Directions

  • Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Location: Building 21, Room 105A

Lunch will be provided

Once your RSVP is received, the session will be added to your calendar.

AFD Strategic Planning FAQ

  • What is a strategic plan?

    Strategic planning is the process organizations use to define a vision for the future and to create a roadmap to get there. The AFD strategic plan will address:

    • Why AFD exists (its mission, vision, values)
    • Who AFD serves
    • Where AFD plans to head
    • How AFD will get to its desired destination
    • When AFD will get to its desired destination
  • Why does AFD need a strategic plan? What is the value?

    As a division of Cal Poly, it is important for AFD to reflect on its performance and set goals for the future. The strategic plan will help AFD:

    • remain viable and effective amid constant change within the university
    • align every department and staff level within the division
    • create the conditions for the division to thrive
    • identify and pursue specific measures of success
  • When will the strategic planning process take place? And finish?

    The strategic planning process is already underway, with the official launch period starting in March. The planning stage will run through April and May with a finalized AFD strategic plan framework (in the form of a written product) due for completion by May 31. The final 3-year plan will also include a Year-One Action Plan, which will map out specific steps to be taken in the year ahead. This overall AFD strategic plan framework will provide a model for individual AFD departments to use in pursuing and/or finalizing their own strategic plans.

    Following the AFD framework, each department will develop its own strategic plan to include a purpose statement, challenges and opportunities, strategic directions, a Year-One Action Plan, and measures of success. These department plans will be due for completion by the end of summer.

  • How will the strategic plan be developed?

    To develop a strategic plan for AFD, we will first assess AFD in its present state. We will do this by examining current challenges and opportunities within the division. This information will provide us with a good idea of what we want to accomplish, which will form the context for the strategic plan. We will ask questions including:

    • What are the emerging trends affecting AFD now and into the future?
    • What are our guiding vision, mission and values?
    • What is AFD doing well? What could AFD be doing better?
    • What are some common challenges, opportunities and roadblocks within AFD?
    • What should our strategic priorities be over the next three years?
    • How will we measure our success?
  • Who will be involved in the strategic planning process?

    An outside specialist, Jesse Sostrin, has been hired to support the AFD effort and challenge our thinking. He will provide oversight and direction on the plan; however, AFD staff will be responsible for carrying out the process and executing key tasks. To guide the overall effort, AFD established a Core Planning Team, comprised of four AFD team members—Cody VanDorn, Staci Shoals, Kelly Azel and Lori Serna. Other diverse contributors include:

    • Department Representatives Team – this group will comprise AFD staff members who represent diverse levels, responsibilities and functions across AFD’s various departments
    • AFD Senior Leadership Team – leaders will serve as models for the process, contributing insights, support and leadership throughout the process
    • University stakeholders including students, faculty and representatives from other university divisions will play a key role in the process; they will participate in sessions and/or focus groups to offer a broader university perspective; President Armstrong’s draft strategic plan for Cal Poly will provide additional context for the plan
  • How will AFD communicate about the plan to the division?

    We will maintain ongoing communication with AFD about the process and will periodically update a web page to provide information and news about the strategic plan.

  • What if I only have knowledge in one area of AFD? What do I have to offer?

    All AFD employees are vital to the success of the strategic plan and all input is valuable. The strategic planning process relies heavily on diverse perspectives and feedback – from all levels of the organization. We urge you to contribute your thoughts and opinions about AFD and its future. You can share your comments with your department representative, any member of senior leadership, or with a member of the core planning team.

  • How committed is AFD to implementing the strategic plan to move our division forward?

    AFD is strongly committed to the strategic planning process. It will help focus our efforts as a division and increase AFD’s impact and ability to support Cal Poly’s mission. We are already doing incredibly meaningful work as a division – but we want to do even more. The strategic plan will map out simplified processes that will help us accomplish more in less time.

Strategic Planning Timeline

timeline_desktopActively pursue strategic directions.Follow steps of Year-One Action Plan.Pursue/finalize department plans, based on AFD’s strategic plan framework. ImplementBeyondMay 2017Establish Year-One Action Plan and related metrics.Gather staff feedback.Prepare plan for presentation / publication.Finalize and distribute final 3-year plan to stakeholders.FinalizeMay 2017Confirm AFD vision / mission / principles / values.Identify aspirations and opportunities within AFD.Facilitate sessions to clarify challenges and promote change.Identify 4-6 primary strategic directions with related objectives and measures of success.Perform needs assessment; identify obstacles to change; refine strategies.Strategic consultation and support for individual departments. PlanApril 2017Strategic planning leadership team formed; roles and expectations clarified. Process announced, participation invited and key dates confirmed. Internal assessment performed to establish context for planning. External assessment performed to identify trends and conditions influencing AFD.LaunchMarch 2017
timeline_mobileActively pursue strategic directions.Follow steps of Year-One Action Plan.Pursue/finalize department plans, based on AFD’s strategic plan framework. ImplementBeyondMay 2017Establish Year-One Action Plan and related metrics.Gather staff feedback.Prepare plan for presentation / publication.Finalize and distribute final 3-year plan to stakeholders.FinalizeMay 2017Confirm AFD vision / mission / principles / values.Identify aspirations and opportunities within AFD.Facilitate sessions to clarify challenges and promote change.Identify 4-6 primary strategic directions with related objectives and measures of success.Perform needs assessment; identify obstacles to change; refine strategies.Strategic consultation and support for individual departments. PlanApril 2017Strategic planning leadership team formed; roles and expectations clarified. Process announced, participation invited and key dates confirmed. Internal assessment performed to establish context for planning. External assessment performed to identify trends and conditions influencing AFD.LaunchMarch 2017


Core Planning Team

This group will facilitate key tasks, communicate progress and ensure success throughout the strategic planning process.


Senior AFD Leadership Team

Senior leaders will serve as models for the process, contributing insights and support.

Department Representatives Team

This group is comprised of AFD staff members who represent diverse levels, responsibilities and functions across AFD’s various departments.

Planning Documents

AFD Snapshot

The AFD Snapshot provides background on the Administration & Finance Division and its role within the university. The purpose of the document is to establish context for the strategic planning process.