Thursday, 23 October 2014

Webinar: forward planning

I'm a bit behind with blog posts, but getting caught up again now. Back in June I joined a forward planning webinar put on by The National Archives.

This lasted about an hour, and was a good way of finding out more about forward planning for archives, particularly as I could "attend" it from the comfort of my own office without incurring any travel costs or having to take time away from work.

We started off by testing out the webinar voting buttons by comparing how much progress participants so far had made with forward planning. Some of the reasons we might not be looking into it at the moment were: no time, no budget, things change too fast, organisation is too small BUT the emphasis was really on using our resources wisely, which means forward planning is essential. In times of uncertainty a forward plan is a useful advocacy tool to show the capabilities of your service and that your resources are used well, as well as how you are contributing to wider corporate priorities.

The essential (but flexible) ingredients of a forward plan are:
  1. Mission
  2. Review and evaluation of previous plan(s)
  3. Analysis of internal and external environment in which service exists
  4. Stakeholder consultation and analysis of views
  5. Strategic aims
  6. Specific objectives beneath each strategic aim
  7. Action plan(s)
  8. Resource plan(s)
  9. Date plan(s) will be reviewed
As far as timescales go, it is good practice to plan in detail for the next year

Guidelines for writing the plan:

  • Keep it simple
  • Focus on highlights
  • Include things that haven't happened (and why)
  • If you have no previous plan, review the previous couple of years.


Use SWOT or PESTLE analysis to determine the factors affecting your service.

Aims, objectives, actions and resources

What people and budget are needed to meet the archive's objectives and deliver the plan?

Who will write the plan?

  • Don't write it alone - another pair of eyes is always useful!
  • Have someone in a co-ordinating role to oversee the content
  • Include a range of perspectives from within the organisation
  • Compare notes with colleagues in other services.

Once you have a plan:

Use it-

  • to plan work loads
  • identify grants
  • monitor progress
  • to know how well you're doing
  • to make the case for new resources

Renew it-

  • don't let the plan die
  • revisit each year's aims and objectives
  • make sure your plan moves with time

Consulting with users and volunteers?

  • Don't ask too many questions - keep it targetted.
  • Ask quite specific questions, not "what could we do better".

Forward planning resources

Forward planning resources on TNA.
Collections Trust

I found the webinar very reassuring, as it helped me get a handle on what I need to do to create a forward plan. It was also good to be told that it doesn't have to be 110% perfect in order to be put in for the Archives Accreditation standard!

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