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Posted on: March 8, 2017

Strategic Plan keeps City goals on track, moving toward success

Strategic Plan

As DeKalb’s Community Development Director, Jo Ellen Charlton’s days are long and busy. In eight hours, she might spend time writing memos, preparing meeting agendas, talking to developers and fielding phone calls.


But in between these tasks, Charlton also has the big picture in mind: How do these tasks and duties contribute to the City’s 2025 Strategic Plan?


“In all the things that we work on, we have to ensure they are working toward the goals and objectives laid out in the Strategic Plan,” Charlton said. “If we aren’t working toward those goals, then we aren’t doing what the community has told us is most important to them.”


Charlton’s not the only staff member who thinks each day about how her actions align with the Strategic Plan. In fact, each Director worked throughout 2016 to align their Department’s activities with the Strategic Plan.


“Everything the Public Works Department does is being analyzed to ensure it meets those goals,” said Public Works Director Tim Holdeman. “This process is key to our success.”


In the second half of 2016, a formalized tracking program allowed the City to begin reporting on the progress of each Strategic Plan vision so all community members can follow along.


Since July 2016, Strategic Plan activities have been recorded and updated in project management software called AchieveIt.


“Instead of each Department keeping track of their activities separately, this software allows the City to see what others are working on, receive reminders and show what progress has been made throughout the year,” Charlton said. “It really formalizes our commitment to the Strategic Plan efforts and keeps us on task.”


At its Committee of the Whole Meeting last Monday, the City Council discussed the FY2016.5 Strategic Plan update. The update included all activities and achievements from that budget year, which ran from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.


“This is an important reminder to the Council and community of all the progress we are making toward our Strategic Plan visions,” said Mayor John Rey after the meeting.


Although tracking activities is important for accountability to the public, Staff members like Charlton and Administrative Assistant Natalie Nelson also use the tracking activities to motivate their day-to-day work. Each Department is required to provide detailed activity updates, and Nelson is responsible for gathering those updates from all Community Development Staff members.  


“Seeing the progress each staff person is making not only keeps us on track, but it serves as a daily reminder of what goals we are working toward as a City,” said Natalie Nelson, Community Development Administrative Assistant.


Although the City executes the actions necessary to achieve the Strategic Plan visions, those visions were created by the City Council and extensively informed by input from the community. In 2016, more than 400 community members participated in outreach activities to discuss their priorities for DeKalb and provide ideas.


“The community input is what makes the Strategic Plan a true community document,” said Rey.


The specific progress made so far on Strategic Plan Goals can be found on the Strategic Plan section of the City’s website. This section is updated each quarter with a progress report.


But big picture improvements can be expected for the Strategic Plan as well.


“We are looking at additional ways we can measure success,” said City Manager Anne Marie Gaura. “Of course, we are always open to comments from the community as the Strategic Plan evolves.”


Interested in seeing what specific updates were discussed by the City Council on Monday, February 27? Check the City’s Facebook page this week to see what items are highlighted in the FY2016.5 update.

Strategic Plan Updates on the City's Website
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