Chicago State University

The Planning Cycle

Dear PME Facilitator,

In an attempt to provide you the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed in your role as a PME Facilitator, the PME Steering Committee is trying a new approach in training. At regular intervals throughout the year, you will receive an email with a "nugget" of information about the PME process. We simply ask that you review the information and answer the questions at the end. You are also encouraged to share the information provided with your unit.

The first "nugget" is provided below. Your response to the questions would be appreciated by XXXX.

"If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending,

we could better judge what to do, and how to do it." – Abraham Lincoln

Strategic Planning Cycle


The planning cycle begins with understanding the mission or purpose of your unit. What exactly is it that you do for the organization? Why does the organization support your unit through the provision of various resources? If your unit wasn't here, what would the organization be missing? The answers to these questions help understand the true purpose of your unit. Once this is understood, you should be able to write a clear statement that declares the core purpose of your unit. Remember, the mission normally does not change over time and will be reviewed at the beginning of each planning cycle.


Once you have reviewed the mission, the next step is to determine the goals that your unit needs to achieve in order to accomplish its mission. These are typically broad statements describing the important aspects or functions of the unit. The goals demonstrate to unit employees and the rest of the organization how your unit will go about achieving its mission. Typically, a unit will have about three goal statements. Goal statements are usually static but may fluctuate over time as environment changes.

Desired Outcomes

As you understand your unit's mission and goals, you should also be able to articulate the desired outcomes your unit has on the organization. These are stated in terms of learning and program outcomes. It is important to think about what impact you have on the organization, customers, clients, students, and public. After interacting with your unit what will they be able to know, think, or do. These desired interactions will be your learning outcomes. The other side looks at the desired outcomes of the unit itself. What will it need to do or how will it need to perform to be considered effective or successful based on its mission and goals. These statements are the program outcomes.

Learning and program outcomes, like goals, are fairly static changing only when a major shift occurs in the environment. Both should be stated in measurable terms that are easily observable or assessed.


At this point in the planning cycle, you should have a clear understanding of why your unit exists, what it is supposed to achieve, the impact that it will have within the organization, and what it means to be successful or effective. Now you need to take the time to assess where the unit is currently in terms of being able to meet the stated goals and outcomes and what needs to be done to move the unit forward. These will be the strategies or tasks that your unit will undertake in the future.

Under each goal, list the desired strategies. These written strategies are referred to as objectives. The objective statements are written so that the strategies are observable and measurable. They should also be achievable within a specified time frame. Typically, each goal will have one to three objectives that that need to be completed either in the immediate future or throughout the next few years. Within each planning cycle, the objectives are reviewed and as some are accomplished, other objectives are created to continue to move the organization forward towards its stated goals.

It is also important that these objectives are discussed and monitored with the unit and progress on their achievement documented. This will help keep the unit focused on the priorities set and not get off track. It also helps if you can assign objectives to specific staff members. This allows for better planning of staff time and adds accountability.

A related, but extremely important, aspect is to determine any budgetary impacts your plans have. If you need additional funding, it is important to remember the budget cycle of the organization. New money at CSU is requested two years out. The only funding available for immediate or short-term access is through reallocation of funds, which may or may not exist.

Targets and Measures

Part of the planning process involves developing the targets for success and how they will be measured. For each learning and program outcome, the unit should develop at least one assessment instrument. This will allow the unit to determine the degree to which they met the outcome. The assessment instrument can be a variety of things – simple counts of work completed, percentages of people serviced, number of graduates, scores on national tests, etc. The instrument just needs to gauge the achievement of the expected results.

For each assessment instrument, you will need to set a criteria for success. This is simply an indicator of what the units feels in necessary to achieve on each assessment in order to be considered successful or effective. The criteria can be as simple as having a certain percentage of people served or showing an improvement over previous terms.


At the end of the planning cycle, typically at the end of the academic or fiscal year, the unit should review and document their progress on their objectives and their performance according to the established assessment instruments and criteria. A discussion should ensue about what went well, what was accomplished, what still needs to be done, what changes need to be made, etc. This is a time of reflection and introspection.

With input from the entire unit, the goals, objectives, outcomes, and assessments should be reviewed and updated as needed for the following year. A revised plan should be developed and tasks assigned accordingly.

If done over time, the unit should realize improved efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, allowing staff to be more productive and satisfied.


Item Definitely Somewhat Unable to Determine Not Really Definitely Not

Does your unit have a clear mission statement?


Does your unit have goals that plainly support the mission?


Can you explain the impact your unit has on the organization?


Do you colleagues assist in the development of the unit’s PME plan.


Were you able to assess the effectiveness of your unit based on the assessments established in your plan?


Has the PME planning process been helpful to your unit?



What is one question you have about the PME process, terms, or forms? We will use your questions to develop an FAQ for the university.

Other comments and suggestions: