• ACET, Inc.

Evaluation and Strategic Planning


SWOT, SOAR, or PESTEL?

Evaluation and strategic planning go hand in hand. Some organizations already have a strategic plan and ask ACET, Inc., to build an evaluation plan from that. Other agencies use evaluation findings to develop a strategic plan.


No matter how your organization does this, evaluation findings can inform the next cycle of your strategic plan. Strategic planning expert John Bryson makes the case of understanding the dynamics of strategic planning.[1] In reviewing three common models, we highlight the pros and cons of each:

Strategic Plan Model: SWOT—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats


Advantages

• It’s the most well-known, traditional model.

• It’s easy to use.

• It helps to condense a lot of data into a manageable framework.


Disadvantages

• It may be difficult to discern what’s relevant and what’s not.

• It can become a tactical checklist without critical analysis.

• It engages only the leadership of an organization.

Strategic Plan Model: SOAR—Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results


Advantages

• It’s a strength-based, appreciative-inquiry approach.

• It engages members from all levels of an organization.

• It focuses on the future and the vision of the organization.


Disadvantages

• It may ignore weaknesses and threats.

• It may be biased toward what an organization can do rather than identifying problems.

• It does not consider what’s happening in the marketplace.

Strategic Plan Model: PESTEL*—Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Environmental, Legal


Advantages

• It provides a broad framework to analyze outside forces.

• It’s an easy way to gather extensive information from a number of categories.

• It gives helpful insight into your organization’s macro environment.


Disadvantages

• It may take longer to analyze since it examines 6 major categories instead of 4.

• It needs to be updated more regularly due to the changing aspects of the categories.

• It may focus too much on the external forces of an organization rather than a blend of internal and external forces.


Which strategic plan approach do you use? (Or do you use another model?) Some organizations use two models to complement each other.


If you’re interested in having ACET create an evaluation that informs your strategic plan, please contact us at info@acetinc.com. We offer a free initial consultation!


*Note: Some organizations call this PESTEL, PESTLE, or PEST. All are variations of each other.

[1] Bryson, John M. (2018). Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. Fifth Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing.

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