Tools and Templates

RAPID has compiled tools that you may find useful in your organizational strategic planning and improvement efforts. The tools are often times applicable to many different situations, but are organized according to phase you are working on (see above graphic on Continuous Process Improvement).

Additional Resources

Transforming a large, complex, organization requires well planned change efforts. Effective change management occurs at institutional, work group, and individual levels. The following handout discusses several change models: Managing Change Handout

The language of process improvement and organizational development is specific, so we are providing a Glossary of Terms for your use: Glossary

  • Assess the Organization
    An organization must evaluate its core services, goals and measures of success on a consistent basis in order to ensure employee and customer needs are being met, that decisions are made with overarching strategic goals in mind and that the organization's practices, work and culture are aligned with its mission, vision and values.
    • Value Chain Analysis is a strategic prioritization tool that you can use to discover how you can create the greatest possible value for your stakeholders.
    • SWOT analysis is a tool you can use to assess internal strengths and weaknesses and external threats and opportunities. A writeable template for your use is here.
    • PEST Analysis is a tool you can use to understand the external political, economic, socio-cultural and technological environment in which you operate. A writeable template for your use is here.
    • Critical Success Factors is a tool you can use to identify the things that really matter in order to be successful.
    • Criticality Analysis is a tool you can use in quality planning.

  • Create the Strategy
    Strategic Planning is conducted to drive the organization’s future course. The planning process normally begins at the executive level and cascades throughout the organization, resulting in a strategic plan. Plans incorporate what the organization will do and achieve, how it will accomplish growth, and often includes a framework for assessing achievement. Strategic planning articulates these component pieces: mission, vision (long-term change), values, goals, objectives, and strategies.

  • Implement the Plan
    Implementing the strategies created in the prior step requires commitment to continuous process improvement and involves staff at all levels. A variety of tools can be utilized to help identify, analyze and prioritize goals and directions aligned with the organization's strategic mission, vision and high-level goals.
    • Increasing organizational effectiveness requires that you OVER-communicate. Use every existing communication vehicle to get your vision and improvement programs out and shared on a continual basis. Lead the charge and educate through initial and on-going communications at all levels. A writeable form showing communications plan best practices is found here. The Implementing Communications Tool has tips on determining who will communicate what to whom, when and how often. A writeable Communications Form is found here.
    • An organization's policies arise out of goals and objectives and reflect the rules governing the implementation of an organization's processes. Well-written policies communicate clear expectations of the organization. The Policy Template can assist you in writing policies for your organization. A blank writeable policy form for your use can be found here.
    • Project Management Tools
      • What is a Project? A project is defined by its attributes, which are distinct from those of ongoing operations. Projects have the following features:
        • They are temporary in nature, and have a defined beginning and a defined end.
        • They exist to create a product or service that has not existed in this form before; in this sense, projects are unique.
        • They have a defined outcome and defined deliverables designed to meet specific goals.
        • They follow a planned, organized approach.
        • They generally have a specific budget.
        • They have measures of success that determine how well they have met the preset goals.
        • They usually involve a team of people, often from several different work groups.
        • They end when the goals have been achieved, or if the project is canceled for any reason.
      • What is a Project Charter? The project charter is a formal document authorizing the project and the project manager. It is a statement of the scope, objectives and participants in a project and serves as a reference of authority for the future of the project. It is generally a short document that refers to more detailed documents such as specifications, etc.
      • The purpose of the project charter is to document the following:
        • Reasons for undertaking the project
        • The project's objectives and constraints
        • Directions concerning the solution being pursued
        • The names and project titles of the primary stakeholders
        • In-scope and out-of-scope elements of the project
        • High-level risks and assumptions
        • Project benefits and measures of success/targets
        • Project deliverables and timelines
        • Constraints and dependencies
        • Resources needed/assigned; high-level budget and spending authority
      • The project charter has three primary purposes:
        • To authorize the project - it should have the executive sponsor's signature as authorization
        • To serve as a stakeholder sales document for the project, for presentations, and utilization should other priorities attempt to allocate resources already allocated to the project
        • To serve as a focal point throughout the life of the project, for example, in scope management
      • The project charter is owned by the project's executive sponsor and gives the project manager the authority to manage the project according to the delineated scope, time budget and other factors. The executive sponsor must approve in writing, changes to any of the parameters on the project charter.
      • The project charter that RAPID utilizes with its clients is here
      • If the workgroup is engaging the services of RAPID, after the project is agreed upon by the executive sponsor, the RAPID consultant and the executive sponsor jointly fill out and sign a Consulting Agreement Form (also called a Statement of Work) in order to authorize RAPID services.
      • Project Portfolio Administration:
      • Group participation and process tools:
        • Brainstorming is a popular tool that helps you generate many new, creative ideas.
        • Reverse Brainstorming is another tool to generate more creative ideas by asking how the problem could be created.
        • Green-Lighting is a form of structured brainstorming.
        • Starbursting is a type of brainstorming that generates questions rather than answers. A writeable Starbursting template for your use is here.
        • An Affinity Diagram is a useful tool for organizing ideas into common themes.
        • The Stepladder Technique is a useful tool for group decision-making.
        • The Delphi Technique is a voting technique used to narrow the results of a brainstorming session and is effective for controversial issues or when a team cannot come to an agreement.
        • Multi-Voting is an alternative to, and is similar to the Delphi Technique.
        • Mind MapsTM is a powerful note taking technique that stresses relationships between concepts and their relative importance.
        • Process Mapping Flow Charts diagram how steps work in a process as a way to understand and improve the process.
        • Stakeholder Analysis is a methodology for building stakeholder support for projects.
      • Problem solving tools:

  • Measure Your Success
    Ongoing measurement is an essential part of the improvement process. The results of implementing the plan must be measured in order to evaluate the degree to which the plan and its implementation have been successful. Ongoing measurement is also essential to continue to monitor effectiveness and as a part of continuous improvement. Evaluate effectiveness by measuring facts and results. Avoid qualitative statements requiring reader’s interpretation. Good measurements help organizations quickly improve.

  • Evaluate, Adjust and Sustain Success - maintaining a culture of continuous improvement
    Changing and improving an organization is not a one-time project. It is a dynamic, continuous process that requires time and attention. Once the strategic plan is written, more effective processes are in place, and/or cost cutting measures have been taken, the work of sustaining, normalizing, measuring, motivating and communicating must continue. All of the tools presented in the other sections are relevant in this effort as well. It is vital to keep re-evaluating and reassessing; measurement should occur at least annually. Sustaining success requires continual monitoring, measuring and improvement.