Developing a Community Strategic Plan Steps 8-10: Action Plans and Implementation
Moving from the planning phase to implementation takes the same amount of collaboration and diligence as the previous phases – if not more so. Creating a realistic action plan with measurable goals and outcomes is pivotal to your community’s success in implementation. During this phase, it is important to accurately and regularly report on outcome measures and readjust your action plans based on this data if needed – the ability to course-correct during this phase is driven by accuracy in measurement. The following three steps will help guide the third and final phase of plan development and implementation.
8. Create an Action Plan and Identify Resources for Implementation
Invite action – with action plans that include specific steps, timelines and parties. Some key elements in this process include
- Creating an Implementation Leadership Council that mirrors the Planning Leadership Council and can include stakeholders from that group. Many communities have appointed a Community Champion, usually a highly visible, credible community leader (often from the private sector) to serve as the public face of the Community Plan’s implementation to serve as the Chair of the Implementation Leadership Council
- Ensuring that the Implementation Leadership Council has an integrated and collaborative relationship with the Continuum of Care (CoC) and its leadership. Many communities have developed a single organization that integrates these two groups to ensure seamless coordination and collaboration
- Having (if possible) a dedicated support person (either full-time or part-time) is essential to plan implementation success. Private sector and philanthropic partners have been supportive in providing resources for such positions, and many communities have seen more success with this individual to help guide the plan implementation
9. Announce and Publicize the Plan
Include a public relations/ communications strategy in your action plan to disseminate information on plan progress for education and advocacy purposes. Included in this communications strategy is the encouragement of participating stakeholders and organizations to actively promote the plan.
Plans should be publicly endorsed and announced by the Mayor/County Executive, Continuum of Care leadership and others to ensure maximum visibility. This should be announced with a special press conference with the Leadership Councils (Teams) and other community stakeholders. Leverage print, TV and radio media to maximize press coverage of this event in particular while also keeping these contacts for future events or announcements as you see results.
10. Implement the Plan and Regularly Report
During any plan implementation, it is important to identify roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and transparency during plan activities. Each provider should regularly report their outcomes and measures to the Leadership Council according to HEARTH Act regulations. These measures include
- Length of time homeless;
- Recidivism (subsequent return to homelessness);
- Access/coverage (thoroughness in reaching persons who are homeless); and
- Overall reduction in number of persons who experience homelessness.
You may also choose to take population-specific measures based on the four subpopulations outlined in Opening Doors and your community plan. The Leadership Council should then report these outcomes to the community.
Use the Plan to guide activities during implementation via community partners and service providers, but recognize also that it is a living document and should be updated as situations change. Encourage ongoing community and stakeholder input to determine what’s working and what can be revised based on their experiences and needs.
Continue also to stay informed of what’s going on in other communities. What’s working for them? Could your community benefit from adapting their practices?