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Home > MUSC Strategic Planning > Planning Keystones > Planning Keystones

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Planning Keystones








Continuity of Strategic Plan

Setting the Course

Excellence is the Keystone to Our Success

Excellence in all three of our missions, education, research and clinical service, is paramount to achieving the goals stated in three of the four specific focus areas described in this Strategic Plan.



An essential component of any working, contemporary strategic plan is one that assures its “continuity.”  Many strategic plans become out-of-date and neglected over time.  To avoid these shortcomings, the work groups emphasized a need to have the plan reviewed and progress assessed annually.  If the recommended changes in any section, but particularly in the Five Year Goals or in Special Focus Areas, are approved, then the past year’s strategic plan will be replaced by the new five year strategic plan with a name change to reflect the year of its implementation.  To best meet this need for a rolling five year plan, the plan should be fully integrated into appropriate existing annual planning and budgeting process cycles of MUSC.  This year’s Plan will the third edition of the “living document”, and the following processes and their respective timelines were recommended initially to help ensure the desired outcome.  Because of annual budget and reporting cycles, the second year was the first time that revised goals were actually linked to the Budget Hearings as originally planned.  In addition, progress on achieving the objectives established for each of the four Strategic Plan Initiatives will be a focus for this year's review.

Review of Five Year Goals



The general process for reviewing and recommending changes to the existing Strategic Plan’s Five year Goals is initiated in late spring of each year and in concert with Central Administration’s process of establishing its annual report on MUSC Accomplishments and Goals.  The goals for the coming year are submitted concurrent with the budget request and serve two primary purposes.  First, the budget requests should mirror the continuing multiyear goals and new initiative goals.  Accomplishments related to the previous year's goals are also presented.  Hence, the setting of goals, the review of accomplishments, and the budget requests are an integral part of the annual budget hearings.  Second, these goals serve as the initial set of college and support service goals and are combined with those drafted in May and June by top Unviersity officials.  These goals are reviewed extensively and once approved by the Board of Trustees, they set priorities for the upcoming year as well as reports accomplishments of the past year in context of the priorities set for that period.  The items in the draft report are reviewed at a July President's Retreat and subsequently finalized by the President's Council for presentation to the Board of Trustees at its August meeting for final approval.

Review of Special Strategic Focus Areas



In a similar manner, the general process for reviewing and recommending changes to the Special Strategic Focus Areas will also be conducted annually and in a time frame which precedes the review of the Five Year Goals. The Strategic Planning Executive Committee, which includes Special Strategic Focus Area Working Group chairs, will be presented a progress report on each focus area along with recommended changes for the Committee to consider with recommendations being forwarded to top University officials as they deliberate the Five Year Goals. Major considerations by the Committee may involve the continuation of, or alterations in, existing focus areas as well any new areas recommended for inclusion and new work groups.

Linking Strategic Plan to Budgeting



The University just completed the second year of an ambitious initiative to combine strategic planning with budget development.  The heart of this is the “Goals & Accomplishments Planning Package (GAPP)” which is included with and completed as part of the annual budget development process for every institutional unit.

GAPP is the foundation for a process conceived to establish a “living”, comprehensive, and budget-related Strategic Plan for the Medical University and its affiliates.  The information generated is used in drafting the University Annual Report, in modifying the content of the rolling University Strategic Plan, and in compiling the yearly President’s Report of major goals and accomplishments to the University Board, S. C. Legislature, and the public.  Another intentional and related outcome is the validity of results inherent from engaging a wide segment of the enterprise in establishing institutional priorities.  Ultimately, these priorities drive the allocation of resources and leadership decisions.

Linking budgets to strategic plans, while common in the corporate sector, has proven difficult in higher education.  A previous survey by MUSC of the 125 AAMC schools concluded that only Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine actually linked budgeting and planning.  The "Northwestern Model" is the basis for the three-year implementation plan now underway at MUSC.

The first year focused on establishing the strategic goals for our academic and major administrative units.  Year two, just completed, focused on expansion to the remaining administrative units, articulation of completely new goals, delineation between goal-specific and goal-unrelated accomplishments, limiting numbers of goals submitted to a practical planning quantity, and establishing priority of strategic goals at both unit and University/Authority levels.  In the final year, budget allocations for the subsequent fiscal year will be based on a historic funding of existing programs, satisfactory accomplishments in meeting stated goals, and on winning the approval of new initiatives.  This planning and budgeting co-processes will be under continual refinement to better fit the nuances of our governance system, management styles, and the organizational structure.  Success in this area will be critically important in building the rational and consensus for major initiatives and advances at MUSC.

The annual eight month process of GAPP starts at the departmental or unit levels and proceeds to the very highest University levels.  The following timeline was observed for the FY 2006-2007 Planning and Operational Budget:

Mid February

Budget Analysts contact assigned units to discuss the Fiscal year 2007 Budget Process

Late FebruaryDistribute Planning and Budget package to Colleges and Departments
Mid MarchCapital Budget package due back to Budget & Control Analysis Office
End of MarchGAPP package due to Planning and Operational Budget package due to Budget & Analysis Office
March - AprilAnalysis of budget packages by the Budget & Analysis Office
Late April - Early May

Budget Hearings

Early MayDevelopment of Budget Presentation by the Budget & Analysis
Mid MayBudget Presentation review by the Cheif Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance and Administration
Mid MayPresentation of draft Fiscal Year 2007 Budget to the President
Late MayBudget Presentation review by the Univeristy Budget Committee
JunePresentation of draft Fiscal Year 2007 Budget to trhe Board of Trustees for tentative approval
Early JulyStarategic Plan reviewed at President's Retreat
Mid JulyFinal Strategic Plan modifications presented to President's Council

The following chart provides a process overview:

The Medical University of South Carolina exists in a volatile environment that includes State budgetary challenges, rapidly advancing technologies in health care and education, continually growing consumer expectations, constant regulatory changes, and even the environmental threats of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados posed by a low-lying coastal campus.

The most significant challenge faced is budgetary—specifically, the steadily dwindling budget portion drawn from State funding as well as the rapidly slowing growth to relevant programs of Federal support such as the National Institutes of Health. This has resulted in work started to prepare a financial plan which supports our strategic initiatives; eliminate unbudgeted deficit spending and develop long-term plans to retire old deficit accounts; develop time-line for reducing deferred maintenance by 30%; conduct feasibility study to replace campus; and implement an Enterprise Resource Planning System.

Leadership and Responsibility

At least annually, University leaders set short and long term goals for upcoming periods as well as compile significant accomplishments resulting from prior set goals and objectives.  These are derived from a wide array of both formal and informal sources that include the budgeting process, regular meetings of senior leadership (including the Deans’ Council and President’s Council), input from Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, special studies and plans (i.e., Hospital Replacement), open meetings with faculty and staff (Town Halls), and external forces requiring accommodation (i.e., available State funds, changing Federal rules/regulations, and local/national economies).  All ultimately stem from the periodically updated University vision and value statements.

These goals/accomplishments are compiled and drafted each July by senior leaders, and finalized each August by the University Board of Trustees.  They then are assimilated into the University Strategic Plan as well as used in the Board’s annual performance evaluation of the University President who, in turn, uses unit goals/accomplishments in the annual performance evaluations of the Vice Presidents and Provost.  They are also widely disseminated internally (i.e., Board minutes, Town Meetings, web pages, and campus publications including the weekly newspaper, CATALYST) and externally (i.e., media releases/interviews, annual reports, presentations to Legislature and Commission on Higher Education).  The updated versions are also the basis for annual legislative priorities set by the University.

While these remain the major frame of reference for critical decisions and follow up communications by senior leaders, the University also stays alert for unexpected opportunities that fall within Mission parameters, developing and processing these in a timely manner for Board ratification when appropriate.  From time to time the key University leadership schedules a special retreat meeting with the Trustees to deal with goals and objectives in even more depth as well as insure that all parties are fully knowledgeable and in accord.  The most recent of these was held this past June.

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