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Planning Processes & Calendars


Planning is a systematic and organized effort to envision how to reach institutional goals. This effort includes thinking about what needs to be done (activities and tasks); who does what (roles and responsibilities); when has to be done (timeline); and what are the resources needed (budget). 

Integrated planning (IP) is an approach to planning that builds on relationships, aligns the institution, and is all-inclusive.  It engages all stakeholders of the institution—all areas, units/divisions, and programs; faculty, students, staff, alumni and external partners—to work together toward a common vision.  Integrated planning aligns the plans of the College both vertically (from the mission/vision to on-the-ground operations) and horizontally (across areas, units, divisions, programs, and offices).  It engages all of the institution’s areas of operations (academic affairs, student services, finance, HR, IT, communications, etc.).

Integrated planning will help the College achieve our mission more effectively. It builds consensus on priorities and moves the entire College towards the same vision through clear goals and objectives.  It also aligns the resources necessary to achieve our goals and objectives.


In general, developing a plan involves six steps.

Step One – External landscape scan

List all of your clients/stakeholders.  Who do you serve either directly or indirectly (e.g., other ECC areas/units/division/program, donors, specific demographic of students, etc)?  Who are the other organizations/institutions competing for the same attention of the same donors or students?  After identifying clients/stakeholders/organizations/institutions, assess the external landscape in which we operate. 

How have needs of your clients/stakeholders changed since the last planning cycle?  How have changes in the external environment made it more difficult to achieve our mission and vision?  How have the demographics of our key clients/stakeholders changed?  Has the way other organizations or institutions operate changed? 

A comprehensive external landscape scan should have both a static and a dynamic aspect.  In a static sense, what is the external environment as it exists now?  In a dynamic sense, judging from historical trends and utilizing collective expertise, how could policies or the environment shift in the future?   Analyses of the external landscape provides insight into your opportunities and threats.

Step Two – Internal context scan

List the unique roles and responsibilities of your area, unit, division or program.  Review internal performance data and reflect on the things that were done well and challenges that you faced.  Given what has gone well and the challenges that your area, unit, division or program has faced, what are your strengths and what are some opportunities for improvement?

Step Three  SWOT

The SWOT analysis gives an overview of our internal and external contexts. Given your strengths and the changes in the external environment, what are the new opportunities for our institution or your area, unit, division or program?  Given our weaknesses and the changes in the external environment, what additional risks, liabilities, and threats should we be mindful of?  Implications drawn from the SWOT analysis will help inform new goals and objectives.

Step Four  Goals and Objectives

Goals and objectives define what you would like to accomplish by the end of the plan’s implementation period.  Given our internal and external contexts and framed by the SWOT analysis and our Institutional Goals and Annual Objective—and subsequently the goals and objectives of the areas or units/division—articulate clear and measurable goals and objectives. 

A goal is a long-range, broad statement that expresses desired results.  Where do we want to be in the next few years?  Goals provide the framework for determining specific objectives and performance indicators or accomplishments. 

Objectives are short-term, action-oriented statements that defines what must be done in order to achieve the desired goal.  They describe specific actions with tangible, measurable outcomes.  What necessary steps are needed for the goals to be achieved?  As an action-oriented statement, an objective should start with a word such as: improve, increase, reduce, decrease, enhance, strengthen or grow to reflect progress towards the desired result.

In addition to using a SWOT analysis to determine goals and objectives, review the progress of the last plan (see Step 6 – Assessment).  Were all goals and objectives from the existing plans successfully achieved?   If any of the goals or objectives have not been fully achieved yet, are they still relevant and critical given the changes to the external environment?  If a goal or objective has not been fully completed yet (either due to budget constraints or changes to the external landscape), the implementation timeline could be extended and implementation of the goal or objective could continue through the next planning cycle.  However, in order to continue implementing the same objective, it must still be fully aligned to other existing plans and it must still be relevant and critical given changes to the external environment.

In general, objectives should be S.M.A.R.T. (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound).  A good objective should answer: How much? By when? Actional objectives must be bound by both a baseline and a target. What is the current state and what can each area, unit, division, or program reasonably achieve in the next year to help ECC achieve its Institutional Goals? Objectives may be quantified by one of the following metrics:

  • Time – e.g., a decrease in time required to provide a service
  • Dollars – e.g., a decrease in cost or increase in funding
  • Percentages – e.g., a decrease in time to fulfill a service or increase in student/staff satisfaction
  • Numerical Counts
  • A specific accomplishment (instance used to demonstrate that an objective has been carried into effect (e.g. a document, the installation of a software, etc.)

It is recommended that each area, unit, division or program should have no more than 3-6 objectives. If too few, some units/divisions may struggle to align with area objectives. If too many, it may be difficult to achieve all of them since the activities across the area may lack focus to have great impact. Each unit or division should align to one or more area objectives.  Each program objective should align to one or more of the unit/division’s objectives.


Performance Indicators

To articulate the appropriate performance indicator to support each objective, first think more broadly and abstract terms. 

Given your objective, what is the:

  • CURRENT STATE:  This is a narrative statement associated with the starting point or current reality.​
  • FUTURE STATE:  This is a narrative statement describing an interim point on the way to the final destination.​
  • END STATE:  This is a narrative statement associated with our ideal future or goal of our objective​
  • MEASURE:  A quantity that results from taking a measurement of something.  Measures are derived from the nature of the objectives themselves. 
  • PERFORMANCE INDICATOR/METRIC:  Metrics are measures applied to a purpose, like an intended change over time.  Metrics include the what, the how often, the how, and the who. When articulating a metric, clarify the following:
  1. Data –What exactly is being collected? Does it involve one measure or is it a ratio? Develop very specific definitions of the data elements required by the measure(s).
  2. Frequency –When does measurement lend itself to more measurement, i.e. how often would you expect to see change? This leads to a natural data collection cycle.
  3. Collection –Who is responsible for taking the measures? How do they do it? What instruments are used? How is data organized and stored?
  4. Reporting –Who is responsible for the analytics required by the measures to turn the data into information and eventually knowledge?
  5. Tracking –When data, information, and knowledge are created, stored, and organized, who is responsible for analyzing trends, effectiveness of progress toward the goals of the objective, holding managers accountable, etc.
  • TARGET:  A target establishes the degree of change needed to accomplish an objective.  

Step Five  Mapping

Mapping objectives ensures vertical and horizontal alignment between all plans at all levels of the institution.  In short, the goals, objectives and activities of all entities at El Camino should to contribute to the goals and objectives of the higher level entity. 

After a set of goals and objectives have been established by each area or unit/division or program, alignment reviews are needed to ensure that the goals and objectives of each program supports the goals and objectives of the unit/division; the goals and objectives of the unit/division support the objectives of the area; and the area’s objectives ultimately support the goals and objectives of the institution.  Alignment reviews also helps ensure that the metrics and targets align with the goals and objectives. 

Step Six  Assessment

Towards the end of a plan’s implementation period and as part of development of a new plan, there must be a review of existing plans to asses how well we have done against achieving the goals in the existing plan.  How much progress has been made and have the goals, objectives, and activities?  What has helped achieve our objectives?  What challenges made us fall short?  What did we learn about ourselves and the environment along the way? 

If the goals, objectives or activities have not been achieved, why did this happen and what changes are needed?  Were the metrics appropriate and were the targets reasonable?  Were there conflicting priorities or misaligned objectives?  (i.e., Were the goals and objectives aligned within each unit?  Were the goals and objectives of the units aligned to the area objectives?)   What cultural or operational changes would help achieve set goals and objectives in the future?


Along side each objective will be a key performance indicator (KPI).  Performance indicators are critical to track the progress of strategic plans towards an intended result.  Each KPI should have a target to show that the objective has been met. 

There are two types of performance indicators: leading and lagging indicators.

Lagging indicators are used to track progress towards achieving a set of  objectives, however, they are usually difficult to measure directly and are not easily actionable.   For El Camino College, the lagging indicators for our institutional goals are:

  1. Degree completion
  2. Certificate completion
  3. Transfer to CSU or UC
  4. Unit accumulation
  5. Student's annual earnings
  6. Student's living wage attainment
  7. Job in field of study

Leading indicators are used to track the actions necessary to achieve a set of  objectives. For El Camino College, leading indicators provide information about the progress of students.  They are actionable because they provide a window of opportunity for the College to act.  The leading indicators for El Camino’s Institutional Goals are:

  1. Transfer-level English and Math Completion:
    Percent of students who complete Transfer-level English and Math within first year
  2. Course Withdrawal
    Percent of students who withdraw from one or more courses during the academic year
  3. Two-Term Retention
    Percent of students enrolled in Fall and following Spring
  4. 30+ Units
    Percent of students completing 30+ units within first year
  5. Average Number of Degree Applicable Units
    Average number of degree applicable units earned during first year
  6. Employable Skill Attainment
    Percent of students who successfully complete a Career Education course designed to teach employable skills

Although historically ECC has used Institutional Effectiveness Outcomes (IEOs) to track the progress of institutional goals, in accordance to ECC's integrated planning approach, the College currently tracks progress of institutional goals through leading and lagging indicators. 

Institutional Effective Outcomes (IEOs) documents


Nuventive is the online planning platform where all annual goals, objectives, and performance indicators and targets are documented, mapped and tracked. Objectives should cascade down from the institution to areas to units/programs and to programs. The relationships between these objectives can be documented and mapped within Nuventive. Any new budget request can also be documented in Nuventive and mapped to an objective to inform the review and approval of budget requests.

For FY2021-22, ECC will introduce a new version of Nuventive.  The primary change in the new Nuventive Improve platform is the inclusion of goals, objectives, performance indicators & targets, actions and resources.  This will allow greater transparency and alignment of the priorities across all ECC entities.  It will also more clearly connect the annual planning and budgeting processes.

However, to better manage the scope of change, the new Nuventive Improve platform will first be piloted in three out of the five areas:

  • Administrative Services, Human Resources, President’s Office areas will participate in the pilot for FY2021-22 planning which starts September 2020
  • Student Services and Academic Affairs areas will continue to use the existing Nuventive platform until September 2021 when FY2022-23 annual planning begins

All Areas will use new Nuventive Improve platform for the FY2022-23 planning process which begins in September 2021.

In this transition year, the Academic Affairs and Student Services areas will not be asked to enter additional information such as goal and objectives into the existing Nuventive platform.  However, please note the reflection and thought behind the planning process where the goals and objectives are defined is still an important exercise as it will inform the budgeting process where budget requests are  prioritized.  Managers should still meet with their teams offline to discuss their annual goals and objectives before budget requests are submitted. 

To access Nuventive:

Open Nuventive (Existing)

Open Nuventive (New Version for Pilot)


The planning and budgeting process at ECC has been redesigned to strengthen the link between planning and budgeting and to improve communication within the planning and budgeting processes.

For the FY2021-22 Planning and Budgeting process, the Administrative Services, Human Resources and President's Office will transition to a new process. In this new process, beginning the budget process earlier will provide the opportunity to reflect on resource allocation and budget requests while developing annual plans. This new process will also use standard scoring rubrics for budget prioritization to ensure the approval of budget requests are made in a transparent and clear way.

FY2021-22, the Academic and Student Services areas will continue existing processes. However, like the other areas participating in the roll-out of the new process, these two areas will also begin the budgeting process earlier than in previous years.

2021-22 Planning and Budgeting Calendars