What is a tactical plan?
Tactical plans break-down an organization’s goals and needs for a short period of time, usually 12 to 18 months. They can work as a support to an overall strategic plan (three to five year goals) or they can work as a catalyst to get an organization’s board on-track to tackle major issues that need to be handled before a strategic plan is considered.
Many organizations don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed by all the seemingly immediate and urgent items on their to-do list. Tactical plans lay out a clear strategy by breaking down goals into manageable actions with realistic expectations and outcomes.
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All tactical plans should have the following items:
- Goal (relating to the issues at hand)
- Projects needed to accomplish that goal
- Description of what needs to occur (i.e. action steps)
- Owner (person responsible for management of each action step and/or project)
- Due date
- Expected outcome
A tactical plan will have several goals under which there will be one or more projects. The projects will hold a multitude of action steps. Each goal, project and action step will have an owner, or person responsible to carry out the task, along with a projected due date. Finally, the main goal will have an expected outcome which should be evaluated throughout the process and, absolutely, at the end of the overall exercise.
By breaking down the big-bad scary issues at hand for an organization into these parameters, a board is able to feel in control of their organization once again. Each action step accomplished brings them closer to the end goal, building trust and enthusiasm for building a better, smarter, more efficient organization that can focus on their programming and mission.
Why tactical plans matter
Organizations work to fulfill their stated mission, but real-life and the daily-grind of basic logistics like overhead, programming, and volunteer recruitment can add up and become overwhelming, halting the gears of progress.
Many people throw a great deal of weight behind strategic plans. A strategic plan is a document used to communicate the organization’s long-term goals looking three to five years out, the actions (in big terms) that are needed to achieve those goals and other critical elements needed in support of the goals stated.
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A tactical plan sets specific short-term actions and plans regarding the organization’s basic functioning for the next 12 to 18 months: board, committee, finances and programming and can be the key to making organizational progress with or without a strategic plan. A tactical plan is vital for the overall health and happy running of an organization. It gives a clear path to those involved: board members, committee members, volunteers and constituents. Tactical plans allow organizations to see the progress they are making and feel encouraged and empowered to accomplish more.
For smaller organizations, ones working with only one or two professional non-profit staff or, as is most common: working with only volunteer board members, a tactical plan is a great way of clearing up logjams and worries by putting the most immediate concerns down, plotted out with actions needed, responsible parties, due dates and expected outcomes.